SLAF'S No 1 Flying Training Wing marks 71st anniversary | Daily News

SLAF'S No 1 Flying Training Wing marks 71st anniversary

“Cradle of Military Aviators”, No 1 Flying Training Wing has stepped into its 71st year of proud service to the Motherland on September 1, 2022. The inception of the prestigious and premier flying school of the Royal Ceylon Air Force was marked on September 1, 1951 as the “Flying Wing” at the then Royal Ceylon Air Force station Katunayake. Since its inception the wing has been at the forefront in grooming young and enthusiastic men and women to become fully realized military pilots.

In 1951, four Canadian DHC-1 Chipmunk aircraft were inducted for flying duties. With the addition of 5 more Chipmunk aircraft and 3 British Airspeed Oxford aircraft were inducted in the years 1952 and 1953 respectively to supplement the flying capacity of the Flying Wing.

In 1954, six British Balliol aircraft were inducted to enhance the wing training capacity. With the induction of Balliols, the Flying Wing which only catered the requirement of Basic Flying was able to provide Advance Flying training which made a notable change in the flying operations in the wing. In 1955 two new aircraft were inducted. Namely, Scottish Prestwick Pioneer and DH 104 Dove built in the UK. In 1959, RCyAF Flying Wing became the first flying squadron to operate jet powered aircraft with the addition of 12 British Hunting Jet Provost aircraft, thereby the wing stepped into a new era in flying.

In 1963, the Flying Training school was shifted to China Bay which was a better airfield for training purposes. In 1970, 6 American Cessna 150 aircraft were inducted to conduct flying training as the Chipmunks were phased out. In 1984, three new aircraft types were inducted for both training and operational requirements. Hence, three Siai Marchetti Warrior aircraft, three Siai Marchetti 260TP aircraft and 3 Cessna 337 Sky Master aircraft were added.

In 1988, due to the declined security situation in the East, the No 1 Flying Training Wing was relocated to SLAF Base Anuradhapura. In 1992, Argentinian IA 58 Pucara aircraft joined the wing to enhance the operational capability of the SLAF. On March 1, 2000, the No 1 Flying Training Wing was awarded with President’s Colours by then president Chandrika Bandaranayake Kumaratunga. In 2001, the FTW aircraft fleet was expanded with the induction of six Chinese PT-6 aircraft to be used as an “Ab-initio” trainer. October 22, 2007 was a day to forget for all members of the Flying Training Wing and SLAF Base Anuradhapura as the LTTEs carried out a surprise attack on the hangar. The attack destroyed three PT-6 aircraft and one K-8 aircraft in the fleet of the FTW. After the Humanitarian Conflict, the FTW was shifted back to China Bay on January 1, 2009. In April 2010, No 14 Squadron which operated Chinese built K-8 aircraft was also merged to the No 1 FTW. In 2018, six more PT-6 aircraft were purchased to further enhance the flying training capability of the wing.

Sri Lanka Air Force Commander Air Marshal S.K. Pathirana served as a Qualified Flying Instructor during 1999 and was a pillar of knowledge and strength to many young aspiring pilots of the Air Force. The first Commanding Officer of the wing was Flt Lt Norman Lush of the Royal Air Force and presently Wing Commander IS Mallawaarachchi commands the FTW as the 33rd Commanding Officer.

The wing operates three aircraft platforms at present, C-150 and PT-6 for Basic Flying training while K-8 aircraft are used for Advanced and Fighter Conversion Training. Other than providing flying training for cadets, the wing also caters with Flying Instructor Training and Basic Air Traffic Control Courses as well. More than 350 pilots have successfully completed their basic flying training and passed out from this prestigious institution. No 1 FTW has been the cradle of military aviators in Sri Lanka for 71 years, since its inception and the wing boasts of grooming many exemplary and extraordinary individuals to protect the skies of our Motherland. It has met with all the standards expected from a flying training establishment for decades and will continue to do so for the generations to come.



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