View Full Version : RAF Little Rissington: The CFS Years 1946-1976 - Bagshaw, Deacon, Pollock & Thomas

Richard Flagg
06-02-2012, 16:24

RAF Little Rissington Ė The Central Flying School Years 1946-1976 by Roy Bagshaw, Ray Deacon, Alan Pollock & Malcolm Thomas
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd; First EditionUpdated_Month1|0 edition (15 Jun 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1844153819
ISBN-13: 978-1844153817

Reviewed by Peter Howarth in Airfield Review 133

Although first published in 2006 and initially reviewed in AR 113, this fine book is still available and is definitely worth a second look for those who missed it first time round. As the title suggests, it concentrates on the residency of the Central Flying School over a thirty year period and covers its operations, aircraft and personnel in great detail. However other residents at Little Rissington are not forgotten, nor are the details of the airfield construction, development and facilities that are woven into the text.

A preliminary chapter covers its construction and use up to the end of the Second World War. The airfield was shared in wartime by No.6 Service Flying Training School (later No.6 P(AFU)) and No.8 Maintenance Unit which used many of the hangars dispersed around the airfield for aircraft storage and modifications. The origins of the CFS are covered in another chapter before the core of the book starts with this unitís arrival at Little Rissington on 7 May 1946. The story is told on a year-by-year basis, backed up by many first-hand accounts from airmen, ground staff and civilians including more than its fair share of amusing anecdotes.

Within the narrative there is much of interest to the airfield enthusiast, beyond the basic operation story of the airfield. Improvement and maintenance work on the various facilities such as the runways, Aircraft Servicing Platforms, the new tower built in 1962 and even NAAFI improvements are all covered, whilst the use of various Relief Landing Grounds such as Aston Down and Kemble by CFS detachments is also covered.

Sadly by 1976 it had been decided that Little Rissington was surplus to requirements and so the CFS moved out on 12 April 1976, most sections going to Cranwell. Further chapters cover the various CFS aerobatic teams (including the Red Arrows of course), the role of the ground crew on the station, the various facilities on the communal and domestic sites, memorials and gate guardians. A brief chapter covers post-CFS use by the Army and the USAF, plus commercial use of the site. Further appendices provide lists of aircraft present and accidents.

The book is extremely well written and is laid out in small sections which makes it easy to read or dip into. Itís also very well illustrated and contains a number of plans and aerial photographs of the airfield. Overall this book can be highly recommended.

13-02-2012, 21:20
I'm about a quarter way through this as I post, but reading about the exploits of the early 50's Meteor pilots sends shivers up my spine. How any of them survived (and there were certainly plenty of them!) is a mystery.
Single engine aerobatics, forced landing practice with both engines shut down, 180 degree low level turnbacks after simulated engine failure after take off, inverted spins.. etc etc.. A beer in the mess before the afternoon's flying programme...

Those CFS guys were good, and their workload was relentless... kudos.

(Also fascinated to see some names I recognise.)

Will post a fuller review in due course.

14-02-2012, 08:25
Am I right to presume that Alan Pollock, one of the co-authors, is THE Alan Pollock (of Tower Bridge fame)? His story in his own words is written up in a book of anecdotes called "Out of the Blue" which was published last year.