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Battle Lines of the PAF

PAF Base Lower Topa History: 1948-1988

Since the early 1930s, the British air force had maintained a small summer training establishment for its officers and men at Lower Topa in the scenic Murree hills. Three years after independence the RPAF decided to continue a similar use of the base by establishing the School of Administration there for airmen trainees. On 1 May 1950 Lower Topa became a regular RPAF station whose function was to provide administrative services to the school which was tasked with the training of airmen of non-technical trades. In October 1950, the role of the station was enhanced to include the conduct of advanced administrative courses for officers and SNCOs. In August 1951, the School of Administration moved to Kohat and, in its place, pre-entry apprentices training was transferred from Kohat. During this period, the station produced 2 cadres of pre-apprentices, one for training at Halton, England, and the other for training at Korangi Creek.

The station was reduced to a care and maintenance status in May 1953, when Air Services Training Ltd, UK, with their British staff, took over the training of pre-entry apprentices on the lines of English public schools. When the ongoing pre-apprentice courses were completed by January 1954, the only unit that remained at Lower Topa was the PAF Public School.

This institution took shape under the dedicated efforts of its first Principal Mr. F H Shaw and his team, who rendered outstanding service to make the school a top class, pre-cadet institution. In 1959, after the departure of the British staff the school was manned entirely by Pakistani instructors including the Principal, Wing Commander M Daud. Initially the School prepared its students for the matriculation examination of the Punjab University. In 1956, this system was replaced by an internal school leaving examination, but the school reverted to matriculation in 1959. Thenceforth the school flourished and earned an enviable reputation amongst the public schools of the country for its high standards. Presidents Iskander Mirza and Ayub Khan visited the institution in April 1956 and July 1962 respectively.

In July 1967 the school was re-designated as PAF College Lower Topa with the role of educating its students to the mental, physical and moral standards required for entry into the PAF as officers in the GD (P) branch. In July 1968, the college was merged with PAF College Sargodha, and in its place, the Initial Training Wing (ITW) of PAF Academy, Risalpur, was established at Lower Topa.

The role of the ITW was to impart initial training to freshly inducted cadets which involved grooming the young men in the initial disciplines of military life. The pilots courses did two terms and the engineering cadets one term at Lower Topa before they joined PAF Academy, Risalpur and the College of Aeronautical Engineering at Korangi Creek. The cadets of the air defence, logistics and accounts branches, after their first term at Lower Topa, were sent to Sakesar and Kohat respectively for their professional training. The training of administrative, education, legal and branch list officers was also conducted at Lower Topa. In December 1969 the ITW was redesignated as PAF Station Lower Topa and finally became an air base in October 1970. In December 1979 the training activities at PAF Lower Topa were terminated and relocated at the PAF Academy.

The base assumed its new operational role in January 1985, and has settled down to its new responsibilities with additional facilities that were developed in the mid-1980s.

 
 
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