GDHFF student with glider

Discover our charity

The Royal Air Squadron Charity

The Royal Air Squadron charity is the charitable arm of the Royal Air Squadron, offering scholarships and funding to encourage flying aptitude, professional knowledge and ambition

The Charity encourages keen, ambitious young adults and the less experienced to develop their flying aptitude, professional knowledge and qualifications through the provision of scholarships and focused funding. The Charity supports planned individual development on fixed wing aircraft, gliders, microlights and for military sport parachuting. With close links to the Flying Services, it also supports the Air Cadet Organisation.


The Charity supports a variety of aviation related activities through funds developed from assets and the generosity of Royal Air Squadron members. These include trophies and awards for air cadets in the UK and abroad; Royal Naval gliding courses; flying instructor courses with the British Gliding Association, British Microlight Flying Association and Royal Air Force Sport Aircraft; pilot engineer flying scholarships at the University of Hertfordshire; and military sport parachuting team development. The Charity also manages the Sir John Thomson Spirit of Aviation Initiative with inner-city schools and the Air Cadet Organisation in Bristol. Future plans include assisting with post-graduate flight handling courses and air engineering apprentice training.

GDHFF student sitting in aircraft
SAC Ryan Green standing in front of an aircraft

Supporting the Flying Services

We are proud to support the Fleet Air Arm Officers Association Gliding Scholarship Programme and the Royal Air Force Sport Aircraft novice aerobatics competition. We also support the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Sport Parachute Association, the Army Parachute Association and in the future, the Royal Air Force Sport Parachute Association with team and competition training. We also support the Royal Air Force Air Cadet Organisation top-performing individual and school team trophy competitions, providing funding for air-related activity and an Arkwright STEM Scholarship.

International reach

The Charity sponsors an international exchange of Air Cadets with Ukraine, although this is currently on hold. We also support Air Cadet awards in Estonia, South Africa and with the United States Air Force. None of this could be undertaken without the valuable and greatly appreciated support and sponsorship of Royal Air Squadron members.

International Air Cadet standing in front of model aircraft

Want to know more or make a donation? Get in touch below

Contact the Charity


Air Marshal Sir Ian Macfadyen KCVO CB OBE

Vice Presidents

Air Chief Marshal Sir John Allison KCB CBE RAF


Sir Charles Masefield


Air Commodore Julian Stinton - Chairman

Jonathan Elwes FCA Mark Coreth

Guy Cregeen (Honorary Secretary) Tim Clark

Peter Fernandes Dr The Hon Gilbert Greenall CBE

Sponsorships and Opportunities

Named after Air Chief Marshal Sir John Thomson KCB CBE AFC who died in 1994

We seek students each year from the Bristol area who demonstrate a keen interest in aviation in whatever form. They must come from the Year 10 school group. The selection process, undertaken with the help of members of the British Model Flying Association, takes place during November at a Bristol school, followed by a second date in February of the following year at the Bristol Aerospace Museum. We will then select 4 candidates for gliding and flying courses.
Each successful candidate will attend a 5-day gliding course at the Cotswold Gliding Club (Aston Down) either in the Spring or Summer holidays following the second selection day.
The following year each candidate will fly up to 10 hours in a light aircraft with the Kemble Flying Club, again in the Sping and Summer holidays. An exceptional student may be offered further flying.

How are students selected?

The candidates are selected by their schools from various backgrounds. There is no gender or ethnic differentiation. Generally, the candidates have faced significant challenges at school or at home. 'Spirit of Aviation' offers them a chance to experience something they would never imagine they could access. The aim is not to produce pilots but to introduce people to the world of aviation and science and help young people with difficult issues to overcome their problems, and thus grow in confidence and self-esteem.

Royal Air Force Qualified Flying Instructors (QFI) must qualify as civilian/CAA-accredited Flying Instructors (FI) to practice. The Charity supports cross-over traninig for selected QFIs and plans to expand this scheme to the aerobatics instructor qualification.

Gliding Scholarships are run with the British Gliding Association (BGA) and in conjunction with the Fleet Air Arm Officers Association (FAA OA.) Over a dozen BGA Instructor Scholarships are awarded each year, enabling the fast-tracking of junior, but ambitious glider pilots to their gliding instructor qualification.
Six FAA OA Scholarships are awarded annually and are open to all who demonstrate an interest in naval flying. Students usually go solo during their course. Royal Air Squadron members assist with some flying and cross-country navigation. The programme is currently on hold and is relocating to RNAS Culdrose.

The Charity awards four scholarships to selected British Microlight Flying Association members on completion of their flying instructor qualification. Four flexi-wing microlight instructors are in training at present, but this initiative could be developed to 3-axis microlights in future.

The University of Hertfordshire offers a degree course in Aerospace Engineering with Flying Studies. The Charity has presented Geoffrey de Havilland Pilot Engineering scholarships to support the Flying Studies phase since 2007, providing funds to help gain an instrument rating.