RAF College Cranwell is a thriving RAF Station in the heart of Lincolnshire with a long and distinguished history dating back to its foundations as a Royal Navy Training Establishment in 1916. It was the world’s first Air Academy and today, it continues to select and train the next generation of officers and aircrew. It is also home to No 3 Flying Training School which delivers the elementary flying training for fixed wing and multiengine student pilots from the RAF and Royal Navy, No 6 Flying Training School which oversees all University Air Squadrons in universities across the UK and the Tedder Leadership Academy.

RAF College Cranwell is also home to a broad range of Supported Force Elements including RAF Recruitment and Selection, Headquarters Air Cadets, Central Flying School, The Air Warfare School and the Band of the RAF College.

We Nurture the Winged


Group Captain Dr Joanne Campbell OBE RAF (Air Ops Systems – Flt Ops)

Group Captain Dr Campbell joined her first unit, RAF Leeming in Jan 2000 as a Station Operations Officer.  Following an Out-of-Area to the Falklands, she was posted to Ascot Operations as an Ascot Ops controller, initially at Strike Cmd and then to RAF Brize Norton when the ITOC was established.  During this tour, she was selected for Outer Office duties as Aide-de-Camp to Commander-in-Chief Strike Cmd in 2004.  Upon promotion in 2006 to Squadron Leader she joined J5, PJHQ on the EU and NATO desk.  Selected for command she was posted to RAF Waddington as Squadron Leader Ops.  Leaving Waddington for another Out-of-Area, Campbell was sent to Mussana, Oman as the COS 902EAW following its initial move from Seeb to RAFO Mussana.  From Mussana she was selected to be MA to Command Secretary PJHQ and Joint Forces Command Director Resources & Policy.  Promoted to Wing Commander and selected for ACSC in September 2012, on completion of the course she was awarded a Comdt Commendation and a Cormorant Fellowship for academic achievement. She followed ACSC with a tour at the Air Warfare Centre as COS Support.  In April 2016, she took command of RAF Scampton and latterly was promoted to Group Captain as Director Battlespace Management Support within the Space and BM FHQ. She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List Jun 2019. Selected for RCDS, she completed the course in Jul 2020.  Following RCDS, Campbell was temporarily assigned as Deputy Head of the Rapid Capabilities Office. She took command of RAF Cranwell in Jan 2021.   

Campbell lives in Lincolnshire, she is married to Keith and has one son.  She is a CAS Portal Fellow, having completed her PhD with Kings College London.

Who's based here

Where we parent


  • 1918 - Flying training began at RAF Cranwell with the formation of the RAF.
  • 1920 - The RAF College was established at RAF Cranwell.
  • 1934 - College Hall opened
  • 1941 - The first Gloster Whittle Jet (E28/39) flew from RAF Cranwell under great secrecy. 
  • 1960s - Technical training, previously undertaken at RAF Henlow merged with training at RAF Cranwell. 
  • 1971 - Prince Charles started his RAF flying training at RAF Cranwell on the jet Provost.


Sir Hugh Trenchard (first Chief of the Air Staff) established the RAF College at RAF Cranwell on 5 February 1920. This assisted with the consolidation of the RAF’s position as a single and independent Service. 

The foundation stone was laid on 29 April 1929 by Lady Maud Hoare, wife of Secretary of State for Air. 

Sir Frank Whittle became a Flight Cadet in 1926 and TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was stationed at Cranwell from 1925 to 1926 as Aircraftman Second Class TE Shaw.

During the 1930s the College Hall Officers' Mess was completed (1933) and College Hall was opened in 1934 by the then Prince of Wales, Prince Edward. Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader was also a Flight Cadet at Cranwell during the 1930s.

During World War Two, Hermann Goering ordered the Luftwaffe not to bomb the College as he wanted it as his headquarters when Germany won the War.

In the 1950s the peal of bells were added to College Hall. The bells were given by Shell Petroleum Company and play the retreat each evening as the ensign is lowered, in honour of the 477 former Cadets who were killed in action during World War Two.

Many types of training aircraft operated at Cranwell over the years including the SE8, Tiger Moth, Gladiator, Bulldog and DH Chipmunk.

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