University of London Air Squadron

University of London LogoUniversity of London Air Squadron

The University of London Air Squadron, often abbreviated to ULAS, forms part of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and provides a wide range of training for students of the University of London and affiliated universities.

Notable members

Kirsty Stewart The first female pilot of the RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team
Ronald Pitts Crick A pioneer of British eye surgery
Malcolm Muir A test pilot for both Rolls-Royce and for deHavilland
Norman Todd The Captain of the first British Airways Concorde flight
Patrick Wells A Second World War RAF pilot who flew during the Battle of Britain
Geoffrey Page A fighter pilot who was shot down during the battle of Britain, badly burned, and a founding member of the Guinea Pig Club
Tudor Owen Notable judge and Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators
Colin Chapman The founder of Lotus Cars
John Grandy Adjutant to the squadron 1937–1939 and Chief of the Air Staff 1967–1971

Present day

University Air Squadrons offer basic flying instruction, leadership and adventurous training to undergraduates and graduates and encourage members to take up a career as an officer in one of the branches of the Royal Air Force, although there is no obligation to join the Royal Air Force upon graduation.

Most members of ULAS hold the title of officer cadet, which carries the privileges of a commissioned officer, but the rank of an airman. Senior members such as the senior student and flight commanders are granted commissions in the RAF Volunteer Reserve, with the rank of acting pilot officer. The commanding officer is a squadron leader beneath whom serve a chief flying instructor (CFI), chief ground instructor (CGI), ground training instructor (GTI) as well as other flying instructors, a civilian adjutant and civilian administrative staff.

ULAS recruits once a year in late September and visits a number of the larger freshers fares at University of London establishments, as well as other affiliated universities. Normally ULAS looks to recruit between 35 and 45 members and accepts around 2700 initial interviewees, 400 paper applications and 80 applicants for the final stage of interviews.

Officer Cadets are required to attend a minimum of one training night a week during full term, which is usually a lecture by a guest speaker on an aspect of the Royal Air Force or another military unit. In addition, cadets are expected to attend camps during the Easter and Summer holidays. These include flying, leadership and field craft camps, adventurous training, and sporting events. The University of London Air Squadron also partakes in a number of ceremonial events in and around the City of London, such as the University of London’s Foundation Day, Remembrance Sunday and in 2012 the unveiling of the RAF Bomber Command Memorial at Hyde Park Corner.

In addition to the standard military training and sporting fixtures carried out on a year-round basis, the squadron hosts a number of social events throughout the year in the form of the winter and spring balls and the dining in night for squadron personnel, the annual dinner for honoured guests and the wine and cheese evening for the parents and tutors of squadron personnel.

Currently, ULAS is based at RAF Wittering and operates the Grob Tutor T Mk 1s from Monday to Friday during term time.