The Station

RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall is a No 22 (Training) Group Station that provides a platform for future and current operations in the south west.  The Station is home to the Defence Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract (SERE) Training Organisation (known as DSTO), and supports the Remote Radar Head at Portreath – part of the air defence system for the UK.

All Services are represented at RAF St Mawgan, and DSTO trains around 5,000 personnel from around Defence each year to prepare them for operations overseas.

As a hub of activity in the south west, RAF St Mawgan supports or employs around 3,000 personnel across the region, including Regulars, Reserves, and RAF Air Cadets.

Be watchful


Wing Commander Marshall Kinnear

Wing Commander Kinnear graduated from Initial Officer Training at the RAF College Cranwell and completed his Operations Support (Flight Operations) training at RAF Shawbury in 1998. Following a selection of Air Operations related appointments as a junior officer including: Operations Officer at RAF Coltishall; Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre Controller at RAF Kinloss; Operations Officer at RAF Mount Pleasant (Falkland Islands); Brigade Air Liaison Officer for 1 Mechanized Brigade; RAF Mountain Rescue Service Flight Commander at RAF Valley; Operations Officer at Kandahar Airfield (Afghanistan) and Operations Officer at MOD Boscombe Down (Aircraft Test and Evaluation Centre), he was promoted to Squadron Leader and assumed Command of the Mountain Rescue Service at RAF Valley in March 2009.

In March 2011, he moved into a staff appointment within the Ministry of Defence, coordinating Defence Engagement activity across the network of Defence Attachés in Europe and Central Asia and the Senior Military Representatives within the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union. He deployed to Bahrain in January 2013 to assume Command of 'C' Flight, 901 Expeditionary Air Wing, supporting 32 (The Royal) Squadron operations, facilitating Key Leadership Engagement across the Middle East and Afghanistan. In September 2013, he assumed Command of Operations Support Squadron at RAF Marham, supporting Tornado Force operations in Nigeria and Syria, and preparations for Lightning II.

Following selection for promotion to Wing Commander, and completion of Advanced Staff Training at the Australian Command and Staff College, he graduated with a Masters in Military and Defence Studies from the Australian National University in December 2016. He deployed to Headquarters United States Central Command in Tampa, Florida in April 2017 to fulfil a strategic planning role in the Central Gulf Branch of the J5 Plans Directorate covering operations in the Middle East. In September 2018, he was assigned to the Test, Evaluation and Special Tasks Group within the Military Aviation Authority at MOD Abbey Wood, a role that involved the development of regulations for novel and contentious aviation activity and included the coordination of flying display regulation and assurance within the Defence Air Environment.

Who's based here

Key dates

  • 1943 - Station opened, used by US Army Air Force for ferry operations in World War Two.
  • 1947 - The station drew down to care and maintenance, used to house Polish displaced persons.
  • 1951 - The station reopened, operating Lancasters at the School of Maritime Reconnaissance.
  • 1996 - Sea King Operational Conversion Unit formed, supporting Search and Rescue Operations in the UK.
  • 2008 - Runway sold to Cornwall council to become Cornwall Airport Newquay.
  • 2015 - 505 (Wessex) Squardon (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) is created.


Trebelzue was commandeered as a satellite field for RAF St Eval in 1941, but transferred to Ferry Command to be an Overseas Aircraft Despatch Unit. The runways proved inadequate, and new runways to the east were constructed, with the name “RAF St Mawgan” adopted on 23 February 1943.

It its first year, RAF St Mawgan despatched 1179 United States Army Air Force aircraft to North Africa, making use of the “biggest runway in the country” according to Flight Lieutenant Anthony Mortimer, Air Traffic Controller at the time.

In 1944 a new Instrument Landing System was installed by the Americans, the first of its type to be in operation in the United Kingdom, with aircraft movements up to 16110 that year. The end of the war in 1945 saw the station draw down to care and maintenance by 1947.

St Mawgan reopened in 1951 operating Lancasters as the School of Maritime Reconnaissance.  Air Sea Rescue operations first took place in 1956, with Whirlwind helicopters. Lancaster operations ended in 1956, to be replaced by Shackletons and then Nimrods in 1970, the world’s first jet maritime patrol aircraft.

Nimrod operations continued until 1992, when the School of Combat Survival and Rescue moved in, now the Defence SERE Training Organisation.

The Sea King Operational Conversion Unit was formed in 1996, supporting 22 Squadron Search and Rescue HQ. A Joint Maritime Facility was opened in 1995 with the United States Navy, and No 1 Squadron RAF Regiment arrived from Laarbruch in 1999.

The Station drew down again in 2008, with the runway being sold to Cornwall County Council, becoming Cornwall Airport Newquay. Recent arrivals of No 505 Squadron (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) and Royal Military Police personnel have seen an increase in use of the site, and St Mawgan continues to parent RAF personnel across the southwest region.

Connect with RAF St Mawgan