The Station

Note the airspace above and around RAF Northolt will soon be changing. 

RAF Northolt in west London is used by both military and civilian aircraft and is home to units from all three Armed Services and the Ministry of Defence. 

RAF Northolt plays an important royal role with both 32 (The Royal) Squadron and 63 Squadron RAF Regiment (Queen’s Colour Squadron) based on the Station. 

2,000 service personnel (from all 3 Armed Forces), civil servants, and contractors work at RAF Northolt.


Group Captain Toria McPhaden ADC MA(Oxon) MCIPD RAF

Group Captain McPhaden is a Personnel (Support) Officer.  She joined the RAF in 2002 having graduated from the University of Oxford.  Early tours included a period at the RAF Infrastructure Branch where she was the Requirements Manager for Project MoD Estates London (MoDEL) which focussed on the £200 million re-development of RAF Northolt.  Later, McPhaden managed broader programming and governance work in support of Planning Round options and infrastructure policy development.

Promoted to Squadron Leader in 2009, she was assigned to RAF Leuchars as Officer Commanding Station Services Squadron.  Her focus during this tour was delivering the infrastructure programme to enable the Station to transition from Tornado F3 to Typhoon operations in October 2010.  In addition, she planned and implemented the changes to catering delivery required to support the introduction of the super-CRL contract.

In December 2010 McPhaden moved to support Commander-in-Chief (CINC) Air as his Deputy Personal Staff Officer and latterly, his Personal Staff Officer.  On the Commander-in-Chief's retirement and adoption of a single 4-star RAF structure in 2012, she transferred to work for the Chief of the Air Staff to lead his Headquarters AIR office.

Promoted to Wing Commander, McPhaden was a student on Advanced Command and Staff Course 17.   Following this, she spent several years with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, providing Infra support for key capability programmes and basing and infrastructure advice to implement Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 measures.  Latterly, McPhaden was seconded to write Infrastructure Policy on behalf of all Top Level Budgets to support the delegation of infrastructure funding from Defence Infrastructure Organisation.

McPhaden was Officer Commanding Base Support Wing at RAF Benson from 2017 – 2019 and again navigated significant catering change through the introduction of HESTIA and PAYD to RAF Benson.  Her tour focussed on delivering a wide-ranging programme of projects to improve the lived experience and health and wellbeing for personnel, as well as addressing some significant infrastructure issues.

McPhaden left Benson in 2019 on promotion to Group Captain as Head of Reward for the RAF.  She takes up post as Station Commander RAF Northolt in July 2021.

Who's based here

Key dates

  • 1915 - Opened as Royal Flying Corps' Military School, Ruislip.
  • 1940 - The Station plays a key role in defending the UK during the Battle of Britain and was home to Polish fighter Squadrons.
  • 1946 - RAF Northolt acts as London Airport during the construction of Heathrow.
  • 1954 - Reverts to sole military use.
  • 1995 - 32 (The Royal) Squadron is formed and moves to RAF Northolt and remains the home of UK Government and VIP transport to this day.
  • 2012 - RAF Northolt becomes a fighter station again during the Olympics, home to four Typhoon fighter aircraft.

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