On 23 March, Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant, Commander-in Chief Air Command  visited RAF Coningby to present the Stainforth Trophy.

This was the first time RAF Coningsby had been awarded the Trophy, a significant accolade and one which recognises the considerable efforts made by all station personnel and the excellent partnerships the Station has with industry.

This article describes the origins of the Stainforth Trophy and the history of the late Wing Commander George Stainforth AFC RAF, after whom the trophy is named.  It also summarises the key parts of the citation which Air Chief Marshall Bryant
made to station during the
presentation ceremony.


George Stainforth joined the Royal Air Force on 15 March 1923 and whilst serving with the High Speed Flight of the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, played a key role when the Schneider Trophy was successfully retained and won outright.  On 10 September 1929, George Stainforth became the holder of the world air speed record with a speed of 336.3 mph, increasing it to 407.5 mph on 29 September 1931, being the first man in the world to exceed 400 mph in an aircraft.  He was awarded the Air Force Cross on 09 October 1931.  Subsequent tours of duty saw George Stainforth promoted to Wing Commander and serve on active duty during the 2WW.  It was whilst serving in the Middle East on 27 September 1942 that George Stainforth was killed whilst piloting a Beaufighter at Gharib, near the Gulf of Suez.

George Stainforth was a highly skilled aviator, an excellent flying instructor and a brave and experienced operational pilot.  He was also a first class pistol and rifle shot and a dedicated airman of great vision who spent much of his time working on developments to aircraft and weapons which he hoped would serve to increase the effectiveness of the aircraft that he flew. The Stainforth Trophy is awarded annually by the Commander-in-Chief Air Command to the station within the Command whose overall performance in the preceding calendar year has contributed the most towards the delivery of air power.



2011 was a momentous year for RAF Coningsby and the Typhoon Force, a year of ‘firsts’ which saw the Typhoon achieve significant milestones and Station personnel rise to their challenges.  Operationally, the Station concurrently met its enduring tasks of Quick Reaction Alert South and the Falkland Islands whilst deploying Force Elements to Italy at short notice, generating combat air power on Op ELLAMY for over 6 months where Typhoon saw combat for the first time as a multi-role platform. Concurrently, Typhoon Force growth and support to exports continued at maximum effort.  Front Line sqns, OCU and TESs all contributed to capability development and training in the UK and overseas enabling the development of critical mission systems.  On home soil, partnership arrangements with BAES through the Typhoon Availability Service contract generated exponential improvements to maintenance processes.

Production and support of Typhoon Tranche 2 aircraft at RAF Coningsby allowed RAF Leuchars to take on full responsibility for Quick Reaction Alert North with Typhoon.  RAF Coningsby also played a pivotal strategic engagement role as the strongest of Typhoon advocates to overseas Government and Defence representatives in support UK exports, as well as delivering training to the Royal Saudi Air Force.  The BBMF delivered a hugely successful display season, the highlight of which was the fly-past of Buckingham Palace to celebrate the
Royal wedding.


The Station’s support for Op ELLAMY was exceptional. On 17 March 2011, the Station was directed to prepare Typhoon as part of the UK’s contribution to NATO’s Op UNIFIED PROTECTOR to enforce UNSCR 1973.  Following considerable efforts and dedication by personnel across the Station, 12 Typhoon were ready to deploy within 48 hours of being tasked.  On 20 March, 10 aircraft and 182 personnel deployed to Gioia del Colle (GDC) in Southern Italy as Force Elements, the HQ element of 906 EAW and as Typhoon SMEs to coalition HQs in Ramstein and Poggio.  The scale and tempo of the initial deployment, to relatively basic operating facilities, with a platform that had not previously deployed to an operational theatre outside the Falkland Islands was a magnificent achievement by Station personnel.  Less than 24 hours after arriving in theatre, Typhoon flew its first operational mission over Libya, providing immediate and essential protection to the Libyan people.  Roulements by 3(F) Sqn in Jun and XI Sqn in Sep ensured unbroken operational tempo over the 6-month deployment period with Typhoon flying missions every single day whilst deployed. The campaign  also saw the first operational use of Typhoon in an Air to Surface role, the launch of the first Typhoon-only Deliberate Targeting package, integration with ISTAR/AAR assets from the RAF and coalition partners, as well as the highly successful Typhoon/Tornado GR4 mixed formations as the default fighting unit.  The transition to multi-role early in the campaign saw Typhoon Force personnel regenerate a dormant capability within 5-days and execute the role with great restraint, professionalism and sophistication.

Support to Operations

The scale and impressive nature of the Station’s support to operations was achieved through the professionalism and commitment of personnel whose skill, capacity and agility were critical.  The initial deployment to Op ELLAMY saw 150 personnel CCS trained by the Regiment Flt in a 48 hour period; concurrent fitness testing, medical checks and admin prep ensured the Typhoon Force deployed well inside funded or mandated readiness profiles. Throughout, aircraft and personnel were roulemented without any need to limit the scale or number of operational missions and Industry and RAF colleagues at RAF Coningsby generated a significant surge in available flying hours.  All personnel deployed on Operations were supported by a proactive and dedicated Community Support Team which worked tirelessly to deliver tailored welfare provision.

The pace of training and development continued unabated as the Station generated pilots and ground crew to support Typhoon Growth and allow the stand-up of 6 Sqn at RAF Leuchars.  The Front Line sqns, 29(R) Sqn, 17(R) Sqn and 41(R) Sqn all contributed to multi-role and air-to-air training in the UK and overseas, notably the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course held in UAE in October.  Overseas Exercises saw the Typhoon and Tornado conduct joint Air Defence, Offensive Support and multi-role missions in combat scenarios.  In April, 3(F) and XI Sqn were able to declare all Sqn pilots Combat Ready ADX, a significant milestone.

Surety of 24/7 availability of airfield support of Quick Reaction Alert has been paramount.  During one of the harshest winters on record, the outstanding efforts of the Airfield Support MT (ASMT) team led to RAF Coningsby being the only airfield in the whole of the UK that did not close at any stage.  This achievement was specifically recognised in the Houses of Parliament.  In freezing conditions, the ASMT team cleared around 5000 tonnes of snow from the runway over the winter period enabling Air Defence of UK airspace to be guaranteed.

Lodger Unit Activity

17(R) and 41(R) Sqns contributed to the growth of Typhoon and Tornado capability through various test and evaluation trials.  The year also marked the official formation of 17(R) Sqn at RAF Coningsby and the 95th Anniversary of 41(R) Sqn. A new Sqn Standard was presented to 41(R) Sqn in Sep and members travelled to France to celebrate its historical links with St Omer. Following work-up training in 2010, 7 Force Protection Wg HQ deployed to Afghanistan to provide Force Protection at Kandahar Airfield.  The Wing commanded nearly 1000 personnel from 13 different NATO and coalition countries in support of air operations at the busiest single runway airfield in the world.  It also conducted joint patrolling duties with Afghan Armed Forces personnel to involve, aid and reassure the local population and was the last UK Force Protection unit at Kandahar Air Field before responsibility was handed over to US Forces.

Wider Engagement

The Stn continued its vital engagement role across strategic, regional and local levels.  The summer witnessed another highly successful display season with 990 appearances at over 700 events by BBMF aircraft.  On 29 April, 2 Typhoons, 2 GR4s and the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane of BBMF participated in a fly-past of Buckingham Palace to celebrate the wedding of HRH Prince William to Catherine; the estimated audience of 2 billion provided global exposure for the RAF.  Ethos and heritage was marked with personnel participating in Remembrance Day Parades at Boston and Coningsby whilst the Station was represented on Armed Forces Day at a Wreath laying ceremony in Cleethorpes.  The Station maintained its support of local services providing a day care nursery and innumerable community events for service and other local families. Charity support undertaken by Station personnel raised £36,000 for local and national good causes in addition to over £80,000 raised jointly by the BBMF and RAFAT in Sep through a charity bike ride.

Visits and Honours and Awards

RAF Coningsby was involved in numerous high profile events in 2011 ranging from parades, ceremonies, displays, public relation engagements, ATC and CCF placements and work experience programmes for secondary school pupils. Separate to the Station, BBMF hosted 333 visits and received 32,792 members of the public as visitors. Furthermore, 132 Formal Visit Instructions were issued, seeing the Station host numerous UK and overseas dignitaries.  The bravery, dedication and outstanding professionalism of Station personnel was marked through a plethora of Honours and Awards which are summarised below:


• 65 Operational Service Medals for Afghanistan.

• 3 Iraq Campaign Medals.

• 41 Long Service and Good Conduct Medals awarded.

• 12 Long Service and Good Conduct Medals with Clasp.

• 4 Imperial Service Medals were awarded to Mrs Talbor,

Mr Hogg, Mr Bird and Mr

Roberts – all from Catering Flight.

• 5 FOD Awareness Awards – awarded to personnel from GEF, 29(R) Sqn, 17(R) Sqn & 41(R) Sqn

• 8 Flight Safety Awards awarded
across the Station – Cpl Evans (SEF), Cpl Marshall and
Chf Tech Roberts (41(R) Sqn,
Cpl Wojnar (XI Sqn), Mr Shaw
(ATC), SAC Hurford (3 Sqn), SAC
Smith (29 Sqn), SAC Moore (17(R) Sqn).

• 2 Green Endorsement Flight Safety Awards were awarded to Sqn Ldr Smith (BBMF) and Sqn Ldr Joel (XI Sqn).

Sporting Achievements

RAF Coningsby had a very successful sporting year with strong individual and team performances highlighting the competitive spirit and positive attitude to health and fitness. In addition, station personnel dedicated their time to running a multitude of sports clubs and were active in raising considerable amounts of money for good causes via sporting activities. In addition to many personnel representing the RAF at Inter-Service Championships, the following earned success at the National level:

–  Boxing: SAC Watson (MT) won the ABA National Championships (Novice) at the 71 KG weight category and SAC Antoine (GEF) represented the Combined Services at the Royal Albert Hall on 7 Oct 11.

–  Ten-Pin Bowling: Cpl Jaap (GSS) was a member of the RAF representative team that played Wales at the Commonwealth Games Training Camp.

–  Climbing: Flt Lt Harth (ELW) represented the RAF at the European Climbing Championships.

–  Downhill Ice Cross (combines the sports of Speed Skating, Ice Hockey and Ski Cross):

Cpl Chris Hodgson (17(R) Sqn) entered the UK Redbull Crashed Ice Qualifiers in Dec 2011 and qualified in second place therefore gaining his place in the UK’s 3 man team to compete in the 2012 World Series.

–  Rugby League:  The Station team won the RAF Rugby League Challenge Cup for the second successive year against RAF Leeming in a bruising and entertaining final played with excellent sportsmanship by both sets of players.

–  Football:  The Station 1st team were Runners-Up in the RAF Football Challenge Cup Plate Competition.  The Station 2nd team were Lincs League Division 2 Winners.

–  Cross Country Running:  The Stn team achieved 3rd place in the men’s Lincolnshire Cross Country League.



RAF Coningsby delivered unrivalled Air Power excellence in 2011.  The rapid deployment to Op ELLAMY and subsequent delivery of complex, diverse missions safely and with impeccable restraint and decision making at all levels showcased the Typhoon Force’s agility, adaptability and capability in delivering combat air power.  At home, the herculean efforts of Station personnel, their energy, can-do approach and professionalism in challenging circumstances and their absolute commitment to operational support as well as QRA and FISC were inspirational.  Typhoon and the personnel of RAF Coningsby came of age in 2011, cementing their position at the forefront of today’s combat air power delivery whilst developing the capabilities
for tomorrow.