The Central Landing School was established at RAF Ringway airfield near Manchester on 21st June 1940 as a result of Prime Minister Churchill’s direction to create a corps of parachutists. It was initially commanded by Squadron Leader LA Strange RAF and designed primarily as a parachute training school and experimentation centre.
On 19th September the School was expanded into the Central Landing Establishment RAF, divided into a Parachute Training school, a Technical unit and a Glider Training Squadron. The tasks were to train parachute troops, glider pilots and aircrew for airborne operations, develop the tactical handling of airborne troops, carry out technical research and recommend requirements.
The Central Landing Establishment was renamed as the Airborne Forces Establishment in September 1941. Its Headquarters, Technical Development Unit and Experimental Flight were merged into the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment in February 1942, and relocated to Sherburn-in-Elmet a few months later.