The University of London Air Squadron exists as a training unit within the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves, and primarily provides basic flying training, force development and adventurous training to undergraduate students at universities within London and the surrounding areas. The main role of the squadron is to provide a taste of life in the service and give experience to its members so that they can make an informed decision on whether to take up a career as an officer in one of the many branches the RAF has to offer.
Members are expected to attend training nights, usually on a weekly basis, as well as attending several annual training camps at various RAF bases within the UK. Flying training is conducted on the Grob 115E ‘Tutor’, a modern carbon-fibre aircraft. The core flying syllabus of 31 sorties loosely follows that of RAF Elementary Flying Training and students generally fly ten to fifteen hours per year. Students can also progress to the ‘advanced’ syllabus during which they will be trained to do solo aerobatics, solo close-formation and solo low-level navigation.
Flying training is supplemented with ground training, force development training and adventurous training both in this country and abroad. Members are considered part of the RAF Volunteer Reserve and most students hold the rank of Officer Cadet, which has the status and privileges of an Officer. Some may obtain commissions in the RAF Volunteer Reserve, in the rank of Acting Pilot Officer. Medicine and Dentistry students, on obtaining a Cadetship, are commissioned into the RAF in the rank of Pilot Officer.
The University of London Air Squadron was formed in September 1935. We took up our first headquarters at Exhibition Road in South Kensington.
With the outbreak of war in 1939 the squadron was disbanded, but was reformed in April 1941 for university students whom had volunteered for aircrew duties.
After the war had ended, the University Air Squadron system reformed within No 54 Group and transfered over to No 3 EFTS at RAF Biggin Hill flying de Havilland Tiger Moths.
The University of London Air Squadron was awarded the Rex Waite memorial trophy for outstanding acts of charity carried out over the year in support of the Jon Egging Trust, including raising £15,000. ULAS was the first UAS to be awarded the Rex Waite Trophy. In 2015, ULAS squadron members raised £54,000 for charity which is a number unprecedented in UAS history.