Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron

Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron
Founded 1941
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Role Officer Training, Ab Initio Flying Training,
Part of 6 FTS
Garrison/HQ RAF Leeming
Nickname(s) NUAS
Motto(s) Latin: Dat Scientia Alas
"Knowledge Gives Wings"
Aircraft Grob Tutor T1
Sqn Ldr Keith Dickerson RAF

Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron (NUAS, /nˈæs/) is a unit of the Royal Air Force which provides basic flying training, adventurous training and personal development skills to undergraduate students of the University of Durham, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumbria University, Sunderland University and Teesside University. The idea behind all University Air Squadrons is to allow potential RAF officers to experience life in service and to allow them to decide whether they are suited to it. There is no obligation to join up, unless a bursary is successfully applied for. NUAS is parented by RAF Leeming where it flies Grob Tutor aircraft. NUAS Town Headquarters (THQ) are in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

Training nights are held on Tuesday evenings at NUAS THQ, and are compulsory for Officer Cadets. Christmas (Freshers' Camp), Easter and Summer Training periods, each of a week long, are held at RAF Leeming to further the development of members through flying, adventurous training, sport and force development.


NUAS began life in 1941 as Durham University Air Squadron, operating Tiger Moths from RAF Woolsington (now Newcastle International Airport). It moved to RAF Ouston in 1974 and re-equipped with Chipmunk T10s. The name was changed to Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron in 1963 when Newcastle University was established, and following a move to RAF Leeming in 1974 it converted to the Bulldog TMK1.[1]

Affiliated Units

NUAS parents 11 Air Experience Flight with which it shares aircraft to allow local cadet units the chance to experience flying.


University Air Squadron Scottish Aviation Bulldog at RAF Cottesmore in 2000

Students follow a modified form of the Elementary Flying Syllabus covering the basics of flight up to solo navigation exercises. Students that complete this initial syllabus can then progress to the Advanced Flying Syllabus and learn formation flying, aerobatics, and low level navigation skills. Each student is officially allocated 10 hours of flying training each year, though occasionally some flyers exceed this amount. Some individuals apply for a PPL from their flying experience on the UAS.

The flying aspect of NUAS is overseen by the Commanding Officer (OC NUAS) and the Chief Flying Instructor (CFI), both of which are RAF Qualified Flying Instructors (QFIs). Additional Instructors are sometimes available on flying Training Periods.

All flying is based at RAF Leeming where the Grob Tutor is used as the instructional aircraft. Previous types operated were the de Havilland Chipmunk and Scottish Aviation Bulldog.

Adventurous Training

NUAS participates in many forms of adventurous training (AT), including climbing, canoeing, kayaking, mountaineering, sailing, ski touring and mountain biking. The squadron's Ground Training Instructor (GTI) facilitates many of the above activities, but most activities and exercises are organised by students - either individually, or in small groups.

NUAS relies heavily on student instructors for adventurous training (AT). Qualifications can be gained by attending a Joint Services Adventure Training (JSAT) course,[2] which is usually free. Students attending will be taught the necessary techniques for successful and safe instruction in their chosen discipline, and can then lead others on AT.


NUAS competes in many inter-UAS and inter-service competitions, and occasionally provides an RAF presence at major sporting fixtures.


Students can join NUAS in any year at university, provided they have two complete years remaining on their course, and usually stay for two years, provided their attitude and commitment are good. Students from the Universities of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside may apply to join, but due to time and personnel constraints, NUAS only attends some of these universities' Fresher's Fairs. Students who are deemed an asset may be invited to continue their careers with NUAS and stay for a further year, subject to them remaining in university and remaining committed to joining the RAF. After completing the joining process a successful student would be attested and become a member of the Volunteer Reserve.


Once attested, students have to pass a medical and a fitness test (The Royal Air Force Fitness Test). While general good fitness will improve anyone's quality of life, NUAS requires a minimum standard. Males should aim for at least a 9.10 on the bleep test, 20 press ups and 36 sit ups. While these are the minimum standards for joining, individuals who are fitter tend to benefit more from UAS membership.


Bursaries are available for most branches and can be applied for before joining (conferring automatic UAS membership) or after joining a UAS. The current system gives a successful candidate £6,000 over the course of their degree. The application process consists of an informal chat with UAS staff or an interview at a career office, for UAS members and non-members respectively. If successful an invitation for selection at the OASC may follow. Successful applicants will be expected to be an example on their squadron and must join the RAF on completion of their degrees, or return all bursary monies.


The Commanding Officer (OC NUAS) has overall responsibility, supported by the Adjutant who oversees administrative tasks and is supported by office staff at the squadron's town headquarters. The student body has a Senior Student, usually an Acting Pilot Officer (APO) who is essentially heads up the student body, and aside from the extra commitment organising activities, he or she acts as a liaison to the permanent staff. The Senior Student is supported by a Deputy Senior Student and two Flight Commanders, again APOs, who oversee the two student flights and participate in the running of the squadron.

They are assisted by an executive committee which is chosen from the student body each year.

Former Commanding Officers

2008-2012 Sqn Ldr Lee Toomey

2012-2013 Sqn Ldr Damon Middleton

2014-2016 Sqn Ldr Graham Edwards

Former Senior Students

2008/2009 Andy De Gier

2009/2010 Jon Eddison

2010/2011 Jess Sibley

2011/2012 Ajvir Sandhu

2012/2013 Andrew MacDonald

2013/2014 Luke Cushen

2014/2015 Tom J. Newell

2015/2016 Holly Scutt

See also


  1. here, RAF Details. "RAF - Northumbrian Universities Air Squadron". Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  2. JSAT Courses

External links

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