Report of General Monthly Meeting

The Army Air Corps
A talk given by Corporal Greg Smith of the Corps on 14th March 2017

Corporal Greg Smith of the Corps gave a presentation on the history and tasks of the Corps to a meeting of U3A members on Tuesday 14th March.

We learnt that the Corps is now celebrating its diamond jubilee since formation in September 1947, when the army took control of a handful of ageing observation and light liaison aircraft from the RAF, and the modern Army Air Corps was born. Support was provided on an ad hoc basis by the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, while pilots were drawn from across the army, but largely from the Royal Artillery and survivors from the recently disbanded Glider Pilots Regiment. There was a separation from the Parachute Regiment who to the fury of the AAC kept the cherished maroon Beret. The AAC adopted a light blue Beret.

From this inauspicious start there was an increasing reliance on helicopters - initially as observation platforms but progressively as highly effective offensive weapons systems. The tasks now undertaken by the Corps relate not only to warfare but to geographical mapping and mapping the weather.

Currently the Corps headquarters and museum is at Middle Wallop in the Test Valley, but it has bases elsewhere in the country. The Corps form about 2% of the army and has about 2,000 personnel including 80 women. Not all personnel become pilots, as ground crew, communicators and signallers are also required. The Corps is the only service that trains N.C.O’s as pilots so many transfer from other parts of the army in order to fly. Most of the aircraft used by the corps are helicopters, and we were given a history of many types.

The Corps has a long and distinguished history of operations in Europe and in the rest of the world from November 1942 until today.

The Prince of Wales is the Commander in Chief of the Corps and the two princes have also undergone helicopter training at Middle Wallop.

Ann Rich