Establishment of RAAF Base Wagga Wagga

31 Jul 1940

The origins of the Base are traced back to May 1939 when Prime Minister Robert Menzies announced that Forest Hill would become the site of the RAAF’s new flying school (No. 2 Service Flying Training School). RAAF Station Forest Hill was part of the larger Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS) in the Riverina, which in turn was part of a network of flying training across the Commonwealth.  The Riverina units comprised of 10EFTS at Temora, 1 Air Observer School at Cootamundra, 5SFTS at Uranquinty, 7SFTS at Deniliquin and 8EFTS at Narrandera. RAAF Base Wagga is the only Base from the impressive Riverina war effort still operational today. In 1942, Headquarters No2 Training Group was established at Romano’s Commercial Hotel in Wagga Wagga to co-ordinate Riverina flying training and the Riverine Club was seconded for messing facilities.

RAAF Station Forest Hill was commissioned on 31 July 1940. The base was formally renamed as ‘RAAF Base Wagga’ in 1952 to more closely align the base’s activities with the City of Wagga Wagga. In 1961, the local council granted the base the Freedom of the City, an honour which has been regularly exercised since the honour was first granted.

When flying operations at the base were discontinued in the last few years of the war, the base became home to No 5 Aircraft Depot, a maintenance unit. At war’s end, the hangars and associated technical equipment were passed to the RAAF’s Ground Training School, formed on the base in March 1946; on 01 December 1952, the unit would be renamed as the RAAF School of Technical Training, a name it still bears. RAAFSTT is acknowledged as the oldest continuous training unit within the RAAF graduating trained aircraft technical personnel to the Australian Defence Force and other nations since 1948.

Much of the base’s wartime infrastructure still exists; much is also still in daily use. Key wartime facilities still intact on the base include:

  • the original brick guardhouse and dwarf gates on the highway
  • two large brick hangars
  • one large steel hangar
  • a semi-circular spray of 13 Bellman ‘temporary’ hangars, believed to be the largest number of Bellman hangars in one location in the world
  • the original 1940s Officers’ Mess, still replete with open fire
  • the parade ground
  • a 25 metre firing range
  • a brick ‘stop butt’ facility into which aircraft weaponry could be test-fired safely.

In January 1999, Ground Training Wing was established at RAAF Wagga. Following the movement of RAAF College to the base in 2008, the two units briefly amalgamated as RAAF College, before again being established as separate entities. In January 2019, following a review of training delivery across Air Force, Ground Academy was formed from RAAF College and Ground Training Wing to provide oversight of all Air Force-managed ground training.

Today, Wagga is the home of Headquarters Ground Academy, covering induction training, initial and postgraduate employment training and postgraduate education. The combined responsibilities extends to 12 RAAF locations and two Army bases, offering 256 different training courses, with about 4,000 graduates per year. The RAAF Wagga component of the Ground Academy comprises approximately 1200 ADF (student and permanent staff), civilians, and contractors, all working towards achieving the highest quality graduate and post-graduate ground training for Air Force, Army and Navy.

In addition to the technical training, RAAF Base Wagga continues to remain an integral part of Air Force’s force generation and sustainment activities. Ground Academy is generating the necessary personnel and skills needed to conduct and sustain successful contemporary operations by delivering:

  • initial military training through No 1 Recruit Training Unit (1RTU)
  • initial and post-initial employment training for Air Force members specialising in logistics and personnel capability management through the RAAF School of Administration and Logistics (RAAFSALT)
  • post-graduate education across enlisted personnel and officers through the School of Postgraduate Studies (SPS)

RAAF Base Wagga is committed to designing, developing and delivering tri-service graduate and post-graduate training for all ranks. The base regularly welcomes overseas visitors and students under the Defence Cooperation Program and is recognised both nationally and internationally for its training excellence.

Related base

  • RAAF Base Wagga