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Birmingham University Air Squadron was formed on 3 May 1941, providing pre-entry training to undergraduates who were joining the RAF to fight in the Second World War. Its first intake started initial officer training in October 1942.

The Squadron first flew de Havilland Tiger Moth Mk 2s, British biplanes operated by the Royal Air Force as training aircraft. The first flights of UBAS students were in October 1946 at RAF Castle Bromwich, to the north-east of Birmingham.

Tiger Moth

Reequipped with the de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk T10 in July 1950, Birmingham University Air Squadron was also renamed to UBAS: the University of Birmingham Air Squadron, on 15 October 1951.

With RAF Castle Bromwich set to close, UBAS relocated to RAF Shawbury in March 1958 along with their Chipmunks. These aircraft would see another 25 years of flying until they were replaced by the Scottish Aviation Bulldog T1 in June 1975.

RAF Shawbury was becoming more crowded with after basic and advanced helicopter training moved there in 1976, and so UBAS were “temporarily” moved to RAF Cosford in March 1978. The Squadron hasn’t moved since!

After 26 years in the skies above the West Midlands, the fleet of Bulldogs were retired in 2001 and were replaced with the Grob G-115E Tutor. In November 2009 the Grob 115E’s were partly replaced with the higher specification Grob 115 EA.

The University of Birmingham Air Squadron is based at RAF Cosford, the home of technical training for the Royal Air Force. Its students study at Aston, Birmingham, Birmingham Central, Coventry, Keele, Staffordshire, Harper Adams, Worcester, Warwick and Wolverhampton Universities.