50 years ago this week: Friday, August 25, 1961

ACKLINGTON Royal Air Force Station has been given a new lease of life – as Northumberland’s first Flying Training Centre – and its latest role is expected to benefit business folk in the area as well as cutting down unemployment in the area.

For civilians will be needed to work in the officers’, sergeants’ and airmen’s messes and as drivers, clerks and in skilled technical jobs. The jobs available will be advertised.

At a press conference, Group Captain F.W.M Jenson, the station commandant, warned that the reduction in the unemployement figure would be on a limited scale, probably amounting to about 100.

Since the departure in November and the subsequent disbandment of 66 Squadron – the last of the fighter aircraft to be based there – the station has been non-operational.

Now student pilots not only from the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth but also from certain selected countries will be undergoing a 36-week basic training course at Acklington before moving to an advanced school.

Men for instance, like 21-year-old Simon Kassis, from Beirut, and his 24-year-old countryman, A Hamadian, who hails from a village two miles from the Lebanese capital.

Both were hard at work in one of the classrooms for theory as well practical is part of the school curriculum. The average age of the trainee is 22.