In 1951, the same year that the Royal Ceylon Air Force was born, on the 1st of September the No 1 Flight of the Royal Ceylon Air Forcewas established at Royal Ceylon Air Force Base Katunayeke with DHC – 1 Chipmunk aircraft as the basic trainer in order to conduct flying training of the Royal Ceylon Air Force. After a period of 12 years, the Flying Training School of the Royal Ceylon Air Force was shifted to Royal Ceylon Air Force Base China Bay in 1963.In course of time as the Air Force Academy was established, the Flying Training School was inducted into the Air Force Academy as No. 01 Flying Training Wing(No.1 FTW).
At the very beginning the No 1 Flying Training Wing was equipped with DHC – 1 chipmunk trainers & as they were phased out in 1985 , Cessna 150s and in 1991, SiaiMarchetti SF260Ws were inducted for the purpose of carrying out basic flying training. Ten years later, in 2001, the Chinese built basic trainer Nanchang CJ-6 which is also known as PT – 6 was introduced for basic flying training at No 1 Flying Training Wing.
The No 1 Flying Training Wing was shifted from China Bay to Sri Lanka Air Force Base Anuradhpura on 11th August 1988 due to security situation in China Bay. The wing remained and continued to function at Sri Lanka Air Force Base Anuradhapura until year 2009 when it was shifted back to its original home in China Bay. The wing bore the major brunt of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) attack on Sri Lanka Air Force Base Anuradhpura. However the Wing was able to recommence flying training within 10 days due to the hard work and commitment of its members. The Wing returned to Sri Lanka Air Force Academy China Bay on 1st of January 2009.
The No 1 Flying Training Wing not only carried out flying training, it also was actively involved in the air campaign against the LTTE too. From the beginning of the Elam War up to year 2000 the No 1 Flying Training Wing played an active role in providing close air support to the Sri Lanka Army. For this purpose the SF260TP SiaiMarchetti and IA – 58 Pucara ground attack aircraft were utilized extensively. During the course of war against the terrorists, two brave sons of the wing were killed in Action. These brave and outstanding aviators are late Squadron Leader P Abeyweeragunawardhana and Squadron Leader DFDS Perera. Their names are immortalized in the list of war heroes of Sri Lanka.
The No 1 Flying Training Wing also lost two of its instructors during the course of providing flight instruction, namely, late Wing Commander CC Rathnapala and Flt Lt BGIL Muthukumarana. Further, Officer Cadet IWMCB Illangakon was a student on one of the ill-fated aircraft.
On- April 2010 the No 14 Advanced Flying Training Squadron was absorbed into the No. 01 Flying Training Wing. Today we are the largest formation of the Sri Lanka Air Force. Since 1963 the No 01 Flying Training Wing has been able to train more than 300 pilots & 70 Air Traffic Controllers to serve our motherland.
We are proud to state that during 4th Elam war, it was the pilots that passed out from this esteemed establishment who provided the security forces with the decisive edge to annihilate the terrorists. In these operations, the role of Sri Lanka Air Force pilots and air traffic control officers was remarkable and their accuracy of target acquisition & operational success was very high. The foundations laid at the “cradle of military aviators” had indeed been very strong and firm. The success of the sons of No. 01 lying Training Wing in their role against the LTTE still continues to amaze the world.
Today looking back in retrospect it is clear that the No. 01 Flying Training Wing has played a key role in the functioning of an efficient and professional Sri Lanka Air Force which led to receive President’s Colours in 2001. This glorious journey will continue and the No 01 Flying Training Wing will continue to train the finest quality aviation professionals in the world, to serve the Sri Lanka Air Force to achieve its future endeavours.