In 1944, the Empire Air Navigation School at RAF Shawbury acquired a Lancaster Mk 1 for long-range navigation training and named it ‘Aries’.
In December 1944, Aries 1 completed the first RAF round-the-world flight, flying 36,000 NM in 202 hours, halving the previous record time.
Today, navigation training is still continued at RAF Shawbury by the Defence Helicopter Flying School, as part of the rotary element of the UK Military Flying Training System. Trainee aircrew are now trained in a fleet of 29 H135 ’Juno’ and 3 H145 ‘Jupiter’ Airbus helicopters fitted with glass cockpit technology and advanced touchscreen avionics.
And, on 13 December 2019, RAF Shawbury staged a special event to name a Juno helicopter ‘Aries’ to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of that Aries 1 record breaking flight.
Station Commander Gp Capt Chris Mullen commented: ‘This has been a wonderful opportunity to remember, with our Defence partners, the heritage of RAF Shawbury; today, we are reinstating a long-standing tradition on the 75th Anniversary of this round-the-world flight landing back at RAF Shawbury.’