The History of 625 VGS

1950s and 1960s

625 Volunteer Gliding Squadron was founded at RAF South Cerney in August 1958 operating five winch launched gliders. Some Instructors, (including the first Officer Commanding, Flt Lt Ivor E Moss RAF VR(T)) came from No. 83 Gliding Squadron, which was founded in May 1944 at Moreton Valance, moved to Aston Down on the 13 October 1946, and later suspended.

When first formed, the Gliding Squadron's HQ was a small wooden hut. At the time, RAF South Cerney was used for Officer Cadet Training with Chipmunks using the airfield for Basic training. In 1966 the Officer Cadet Training was moved from South Cerney and the camp was used mainly for extra accommodation for RAF Fairford. Following this, messing for cadets involved a daily return journey of 16 miles to RAF Fairford.

As with the gliding squadron today, Staff Cadets played a large part in the running of the squadron and later went on to become instructors or join the RAF. The current OC, CFI, and adjutant are all ex Flight Staff Cadets as are many of the adult staff currently serving on the squadron.

A temporary move of the squadron took place in the summer of 1966 to RAF Kemble (7 miles away) while the World Gliding Championships used South Cerney. The HQ of the gliding squadron also moved around this time into the old control tower, providing overnight accommodation for cadets as well as office space.


No 29 Regt RCT took over the camp in 1972, with the gliding squadron remaining in the control tower. In September 1978 the Gliding squadron was converted to the Venture Mk2 motor glider and was equipped with two aircraft. Cadets were not sent solo in the Venture until 1979, when the aircraft was cleared for cadet solo flight. A third Venture was supplied the squadron in 1980.


In April 1985 the squadron converted to the Viking conventional glider over a two week course at South Cerney. This was after all U/Ts, (nearly all of which had not flown in conventional gliders before) were taken by the OC 625 VGS to 645 VGS at Catterick for a conversion course to fly the Viking and drive the winch.

Since the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) came to Fairford in approximately 1985 625 VGS have supported the event with static aircraft, only having a short break when the RIAT moved for two years, 2000/2001 for the runway at Fairford to be resurfaced.

Summer of 1986 brought the World Aerobatic Championships to South Cerney with a result that 625 staff deployed to both 622 (Upavon) and 621 (Weston) for three weeks.

In 1987 our HQ was taken over for several weeks by a film crew who filmed 'A Piece of Cake'.

The squadron began sending detachments to Portmoak airfield in Perth and Kinross, Scotland in the summer of 1988. This allowed staff to experience other types of gliding conditions such as ridge soaring and wave soaring.

It was during 1988 that the Air Cadet fleet of Vikings developed Spigot problems and we were among a few VGSs that went on detachment to Swanton Morley for 10 days in the summer.


In 1992, RAF Hullavington was to close. It was decided that the Chipmunks from 3 AEF would go to RAF Colerne and the Silver Stars Parachute team would move into South Cerney, leaving 625 VGS without a home. It was decided that 625 VGS would go to RAF Kemble as a stop gap while a new home was found. The last flight for 625 VGS at South Cerney took place in July, flown by Sqn Ldr Philip Tancell RAF VR(T) and the CFI, Flt Lt Richard Bowyer RAF VR(T).

With the closure of RAF Kemble getting ever closer, 625 VGS was moved to RAF Hullavington on the 9th December 1992. No gliding took place by 625 VGS at Hullavington until the February 1993 when Sqn Ldr Albert Johnson from ACCGS flew with Sqn Ldr Philip Tancell OC 625 VGS. The RAF moved out soon after 625 VGS moved in with a hand over in April 1993 to the 9 Supply Regt (Army), who are still the current landlords of the camp.

July 1993 marked the arrival of 621 VGS from RAF Locking, after nearly 40 years operating there due to a land developer taking over their airfield. Both 625 VGS and 621 VGS still operate together at Hullavington flying mirror circuits and providing hundreds of cadets with gliding each year.

The Inter Service Gliding Competitions were held at Hullavington during 1999. 625 and 621 VGS supplied ground support for the Air Cadet entries into the comp.

In 1999 the squadron came joint first with 621 VGS, to win the Sir Arthur Marshall Trophy. This was the first time that two VGSs had tied for 1st place and was a splendid effort from a small team of staff that year.

2000 to 2013

Foot and Mouth spread across the UK from January 2001, and from February 28th until the 1st June both 625 and 621 were forced to glide elsewhere as a farm was infected within 10 miles of Hullavington airfield. A number of staff from 625 went to 626 VGS (Predannack) from the 13th - 22nd April to help with their continuous course. A great time was had by all, with lots of soaring, all students completing and the staff being introduced to Rum & Shrub, a traditional drink for 626 VGS staff.

New rules for military aviation came into force in 2013. One of these rules was that there could only be one OC Flying at an airfield. With that, the decision was made by OC CGS to amalgamate 621 VGS and 625 VGS into one squadron under the 621 VGS title. The 625 VGS title remains and, when an airfield is found, the squadron can be reformed.

Officer Commanding 625 VGS

There were three commanding officers during the history of 625 VGS. In 2012, Flt Lt Andy Rigsby RAF VR(T) took over as Acting Commanding Officer until the two squadrons at Hullavington were amalgamated.

1958 to 1969 - Flt Lt Ivor E Moss RAF VR(T)
1969 to 1983 - Sqn Ldr Antony Boylan RAF VR(T)
1983 to 2012 - Sqn Ldr Philip Tancell RAF VR(T)