Leading aircraftman

Leading aircraftman (LAC) or leading aircraftwoman (LACW)[1][2][3] is a junior rank in some air forces, between aircraftman and senior aircraftman and having a NATO rank code of OR-2. The rank badge is a horizontal two-bladed propeller.

The rank originated in the Royal Air Force, when it was formed in 1918. It replaced the Royal Flying Corps rank of air mechanic 1st class (which wore the same badge). It was only a trade classification until 1 January 1951, when it became a rank, although it is non-supervisory.

Leading aircraftman is also a rank in the Royal Australian Air Force (which uses a single chevron rather than a propeller device), Royal New Zealand Air Force, Indian Air Force, Ghana Air Force and the Sri Lanka Air Force, and until 1968 was a rank in the Royal Canadian Air Force. Leading air cadet (LAC) in the New Zealand Air Training Corps also uses the propeller badge. It is not technically a rank (although many units regard it as a very junior NCO rank), and may be awarded to cadets who have attended a minimum of thirty parades, or completed one year in a unit. The rank is generally awarded to those cadets who show obvious leadership skill.

OR1 RAF Leading Aircraftman
Rank badge of a Royal Air Force Leading Aircraftman
RAF Leading Aircraftman as it appears on Dress Uniform
Rank badge of an Indian Air Force Leading Aircraftman


  1. ^ RAF Distinguishing Insignia
  2. ^ RAF website
  3. ^ The spellings "aircraftsman" and "aircraftswoman", despite being occasionally seen even in official documents, are incorrect in any air force.

See also


Aircraftman (AC) or aircraftwoman (ACW) is the lowest rank in the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the air forces of several other Commonwealth countries. In RAF slang, aircraftmen are sometimes called "erks".Aircraftman ranks below leading aircraftman and has a NATO rank code of OR-1. It is now a training rank only and no airmen in productive service hold this rank. Aircraftmen do not wear any rank insignia.

Australian Defence Force ranks

The Australian Defence Force's (ADF) ranks of officers and enlisted personnel in each of its three service branches of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), the Australian Army, and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) inherited their rank structures from their British counterparts. The insignia used to identify these ranks are also generally similar to those used in the British Armed Forces.

The following tables show the "equivalent rank and classifications" for the three services, as defined in the ADF Pay and Conditions Manual. "Equivalent rank" means the corresponding rank set out under Regulation 8 of the Defence Force Regulations 1952.

Christ Church, Ottershaw

Christ Church, Ottershaw is a Church of England church on Guildford Road in the village of Ottershaw in the Runnymede district of Surrey, England, about 20 miles south-west of London. Grade II listed, it was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott (1811–78).Sir Edward Colebrooke (1813–90), who came to live in Ottershaw in 1859, built a chapel on his estate in 1863 as a memorial to his deceased son and heir. Later this became the village church.

The church, one of the few polychromatic brick churches designed by Scott, retains most of its original features. A tower, the gift of Edward Gibb, was added in 1885 and new parish rooms in the 1990s.The nave and chancel windows, designed by Charles Eamer Kempe (1837–1907), contain several examples of Kempe's signature, a tiny wheatsheaf. They were installed in 1901, replacing the original plain glass. Kempe also designed the altar piece. Installed in 1901, it was made by the Sussex-based firm Norman and Burt and incorporates wooden figures carved in Oberammergau, in Bavaria, Germany.

Two Commonwealth servicemen of World War II – Leading Aircraftman George Barnett of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (who died on 17 October 1943) and Corporal Alexander Cook of the Worcestershire Regiment (who died on 21 September 1947) – are buried in the churchyard.

Comparative air force enlisted ranks of Asia

Rank comparison chart of air forces of Asian states.

Comparative air force enlisted ranks of the Commonwealth

Rank comparison chart of air forces of Commonwealth of Nations states.

Dennis Burkinshaw

Dennis Harold Burkinshaw (1918 - 2013) was the diocesan secretary for the Diocese of Grahamstown from 1961 - 1971. Admitted to the Order of Simon of Cyrene for his service to the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. Appointed as a Leading aircraftman n World War II.

Harry Archibald

Harry Grenfell Archibald (September 21, 1910 – September 1965) was a Canadian politician, foreman and seaman. He was born in Wynot, Saskatchewan. He was elected to the House of Commons of Canada in 1945 as a member of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation for the riding of Skeena.

A sympathiser of Trotskyism, Archibald was a covert member of the Revolutionary Workers' Party during part of his term in Parliament.

He was defeated in the elections of 1949 and 1953. Between 1943 and 1945, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Leading Aircraftman.

Karl Gravell

Leading Aircraftman Karl Mander Gravell, GC was posthumously

awarded the George Cross, the highest British

(and Commonwealth) award for bravery out of combat. The decoration was awarded for the heroism he showed on the 10 November 1941 in Calgary, Alberta.

LAC Gravell was on a training flight when the Tiger Moth aircraft he was flying in suffered mechanical failure and crashed in flames. Gravell managed to get clear but despite his

serious injuries - he had lost an eye and was badly burned - he dived back into the inferno with his own clothes still on fire in a vain effort to rescue the pilot. He was pulled from the wreckage but later died from his grievous burns.

Born in Sweden in 1922, he moved to Canada with his family in 1937 and became a naturalized Canadian citizen in July of that year. The aspiring air gunner had joined the Royal Canadian Air Force on 15 March 1941 from his adopted home town of Vancouver, British Columbia. After completing his depot training, he had been posted to No. 2 Wireless School in Calgary.The following citation was published in the London Gazette on the 11 June 1942:

"In November, 1941, a training aircraft crashed and immediately burst into flames. Leading Aircraftman Gravell, who was under training as a wireless air gunner, managed to extricate himself from the wreckage and get clear. In spite of the intense shock caused by the loss of one eye and severe burns, suffered at the time of the crash, Leading Aircraftman Gravell's first and only thought was for the welfare of his pilot. The pilot was still in the aircraft and Gravell ignoring his own serious injuries and the fact that his clothes were ablaze attempted to get back to the flaming wreckage to pull him clear. He had barely reached the aircraft when he was dragged away and rolled on the ground to extinguish the flames which had, by this time, completely enveloped his clothing. Leading Aircraftman Gravell subsequently died from his burns. Had he not considered his pilot before his own safety and had he immediately proceeded to extinguish the flames on his own clothing, he would probably not have lost his life."

LAC Gravell is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver. A monument to the bravery of Gravell and the schoolteacher, Mrs. Frances Walsh, who pulled him from the wreckage, stands near the site of the crash, on the north-east corner of the intersection of Range Road 25 and Big Hill Springs Road east of Airdrie. Mrs. Walsh was awarded the George Medal for her heroism .

Kenneth Spooner

Leading Aircraftman Kenneth Gerald Spooner, GC (Smith Falls, Ontario, 24 Apr 1922–14 May 1943) was posthumously awarded the George Cross for the self-sacrifice he showed in saving the lives of three comrades on the May 14, 1943.

The twenty-year-old British Commonwealth Air Training Program student navigator, who had no pilot training or experience, took over the controls of an Avro Anson trainer of the No.4 Air Observer School in London, Ontario when the pilot fainted and the plane lurched into a dive. He managed to level the plane for long enough for three crew members to bail out before the plane crashed into Lake Erie, killing him instantly.One of the crew landed in the lake and drowned but the testimony of the two survivors led to his award, the citation noting "This airman with complete disregard for his personal safety and in conformity with the highest traditions of the service, sacrificed his life in order to save the lives of his comrades." He was only the second member of the Royal Canadian Air Force to win a George Cross. In 1949, the local school board named a new elementary school to honour his memory. The medal was purchased by the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa in February 1988.

Matt Osborne (RAF airman)

Leading Aircraftman Albert Matthew Osborne GC (19 October 1906 – 2 April 1942), known as Matt Osborne, of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was awarded a posthumous George Cross for his "unsurpassed courage and devotion to duty" during incessant German air attacks on Malta.

Among his many acts of valour he made safe torpedoes in burning aircraft, rescued a pilot from a burning plane and worked to rescue trapped airmen amid heavy enemy bombing. He was killed on 2 April 1942 by an explosion while fire fighting in a similarly courageous manner.

He enlisted in the RAF in July 1940.

Milton Atkinson

Milton George Atkinson (1926-2008) was an Australian rugby league footballer of the 1940s and became a dual premiership winning player for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Born in Paddington, New South Wales on 17 April 1926, Milton Atkinson was a professional rugby league footballer for the Sydney Roosters and the South Sydney Rabbitohs. An Easts junior, Milton Atkinson's rugby league career started after World War II. He served in the RAAF between 1944-1946 as a Leading Aircraftman. After the war he joined Eastern Suburbs, playing two first grade seasons in 1947 and 1949. Atkinson shifted to South Sydney Rabbitohs in 1950 and stayed until 1952, but during this period he won two premierships with Souths in 1950 and 1951.Milton Atkinson died on 14 December 2008, aged 82, late of Maroubra, New South Wales.

RAF Far East Flight

The RAF Far East Flight, of the Royal Air Force (RAF), was a flying unit of four Supermarine Southampton II flying boats which undertook a long-range exploratory flight to Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong between October 1927 and January 1929. Having completed this journey the aircraft remained at Singapore and the Flight was redesignated No. 205 Squadron RAF, the first RAF unit to be permanently based there.

RAF other ranks

The term used in the Royal Air Force (RAF) to refer to all ranks below commissioned officer level is other ranks (ORs). It includes warrant officers (WOs), non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and airmen.

Ranks of the Royal Australian Air Force

The rank structure of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has been inherited from the Royal Air Force (RAF). The RAF based its officer ranks on the Royal Navy, and its airmen ranks on the British Army.

Unlike the RAF, RAAF rank abbreviations are always written in uppercase without spaces (e.g. Pilot Officer is written as PLTOFF, not Plt Off). Also, the RAAF does not have the ranks of Senior Aircraftman, Junior Technician, Chief Technician or Master Aircrew.

The rank insignia is very similar to that of the RAF, with the exception of Leading Aircraftman (LAC)/Leading Aircraftwoman (LACW) which is one chevron (two bladed propeller in RAF). Both officers and airmen wear rank insignia on the chest when wearing General Purpose Uniform or Disruptive Pattern Combat Uniform. Rank insignia is worn on the shoulder in all other orders of dress with the exception of the Service Dress tunic (where it is worn on the lower sleeve for officers and Warrant Officers and the upper sleeve for airmen) and the working uniform of Physical Training Instructors where it is worn on the sleeve. The word 'Australia' appears immediately below all rank insignia worn on the shoulder or chest.

The most senior active rank of the RAAF, Air Marshal – a three-star rank, is held by the Chief of Air Force. On the occasions that the Chief of the Defence Force is an office of the RAAF, the rank of Air Chief Marshal in awarded to the officer. The rank of Marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force has never been held as an active rank and it is currently held as an honorary rank by HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

Ray Riddell

Norman Raymond Riddell (26 March 1918 – 10 November 2013) was an Australian rules footballer who played with Collingwood in the Victorian Football League (VFL) during the 1940s.

Riddell's VFL career was limited due the war, as he was at the time a Leading Aircraftman with the RAAF. He played twice in the 1944 VFL season and his only appearance in 1945 was a preliminary final, which Collingwood lost. Riddell played in two further games in 1946. He briefly coached Preston in 1951, as a replacement for Reg Ryan who left before the season concluded.

Robert Gordon (English footballer)

Robert Henry Gordon (1917? in Shankhouse, Northumberland – 18 September 1940) was a professional footballer, who played for Huddersfield Town.

He died in September 1940 when he was killed in action in World War II whilst serving as a Leading Aircraftman of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reservein No 9 Sqn, RAF

Ronald Maddison

Leading Aircraftman Ronald George Maddison (23 January 1933 – 6 May 1953) was a twenty-year-old Royal Air Force engineer who died as the result of exposure to nerve agents while acting as a voluntary test subject at Porton Down, in Wiltshire, England. After substantial controversy, his death was the subject of an inquest 51 years after the event.

Senior aircraftman

Senior aircraftman (SAC) or senior aircraftwoman (SACW) is a rank in the Royal Air Force, ranking between leading aircraftman and senior aircraftman technician (SAC(T)) (although SACs in non-technical trades progress directly to corporal) and having a NATO rank code of OR-2. The rank, which is non-supervisory, was introduced on 1 January 1951. The rank badge is a three-bladed propeller.

Walter Arnold (GC)

Walter Arnold GC (30 August 1906 – 12 March 1988) was a recipient of the Empire Gallantry Medal (later exchanged for the George Cross) and a Royal Air Force airman.

On 20 June 1928, Leading Aircraftman Arnold was a passenger in an aircraft which crashed on landing at Digby Aerodrome. Arnold was able to free himself from the burning wreckage but he re-entered the flames in order to rescue the unconscious pilot. In doing so, Arnold sustained burns to his face, neck and hands and his actions undoubtedly saved the pilot's life.

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