SLAF History : Setting Things-up
On 15th January 1971, the No. 1 RCyAF Trade Training School, Katunayake, came into being to provide formal training for Officers and Aircraftsmen in their branch or trade. The School also organized and conducted all trade testing and preparation of syllabi for all trades other than Signals, Electronics and Radar. This formation consisted of three main wings Planning and Control, Instructional and Examination. No. 4 Helicopter Squadron received independent Unit status from 15th January 1971, and continued to provide VIP transport, reconnaissance flights, cargo flights, Air/Sea and Jungle Rescue flights, CASEVAC and other operational flights with its Bell Jet Ranger helicopters.

The No. 1 Flying Training School which went to China Bay in 1963, was re-established with effect from 15th January 1971 to undertake ab-initio and advanced flying training of students to wings standard. It also handled the training of qualified pilots to Flying Instructor category, and the standardisation of Flying Instructors and Pilots of the RCyAF. On the 15th of March 1971, RCyAF, Diyatalawa was renamed RCyAF Ground Combat and Recruit Training Unit, Diyatalawa. The unit handles all initial training courses for Officers, Airmen, Cadets, Volunteer Airmen and Volunteer Officers

Trouble Looms

Hardly three months into his command, Commander Mendis was summoned by telephone to Temple Trees where the Prime Minister, the Hon Sirimavo Bandaranaike announced the outbreak of a Southern-led insurgency in the island. This was the first serious internal threat faced by Ceylon.
The dawn of 5th April 1971, was as beautiful and serene as any sunrise in Colombo in April. Unfortunately, a few Police officers manning a police station in the deep South were never to see that sunrise. They were the victims of the first onslaught by the insurgents. In Colombo, peacefully unaware of the dastardly attack at Wellawaya, a conference of Commanding Officers was being held at Air Force Headquarters, when the Commander of the Air Force was summoned to the Ministry of Defence.

Intelligence reports had indicated the existence of an underground movement and the Special Branch of the Ceylon Police was on their trail. An Emergency had been declared two weeks earlier, and several caches of hand bombs, uniforms and explosive material had been unearthed by combined Police/Army action. However, no one believed, even at noon of the 5th April, that the day of reckoning had come. After all, it was only one Police station that had been attacked, and that too, 150 miles away from Colombo.
The Commanding Officers conference, peacefully discussing the organisational changes introduced recently, turned into a briefing on security measures to be adopted in the event of a deterioration of national security. What role would the Air Force be called upon to play and what forces did it have under command to meet it? We knew what we had to do, but the real question was, What did we have to do it with?
ශ්‍රී ලංකා ගුවන් හමුදාව
ගුවනේ ආරක්‍ෂකයෝ
National Defence College
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