McKenna Dinner brings a close to another successful year of world-class test pilot training with ETPS


This annual celebratory showpiece for the end-of-year course brought together graduates and tutors from across ETPS to recognise the achievements of the class of 2023.

Flt Lt McNamara of the Royal Air Force being presented with the McKenna trophy.

On Thursday 14 December 2023, ETPS was proud to welcome guests from across the world as the school hosted its annual McKenna Dinner at the Officers’ Mess, MOD Boscombe Down. Celebrating Flight Test students who have completed their respective rotary wing (RW), fixed wing (FW) test pilot and flight test engineer (FTE) long courses in 2023, graduates received certificates as recognition for their hard work, commitment and ultimately, successful completion of their academic and flying programmes.

In addition to students and staff, VIPs from the UK military, representatives from key suppliers of the school and Commanding Officers (CO’s) from ETPS sister schools were also in attendance. We were delighted to have Andy Strachan, Lilium Chief Test Pilot, as the guest of honour for the event.

We’re pleased to report that a total of 21 students - 12 fixed wing and nine rotary wing – graduated this year, with pupils from across the globe honing their expertise at the ETPS, the world’s oldest test pilot school.

The 2023 pupil cadre featured representation from the following organisations:

Fixed Wing

  • Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)
  • Turkish Air Force
  • Singapore Air Force
  • French Military
  • Airbus France

Rotary Wing

  • UK Military
  • Australian Army
  • Australian Navy
  • United States Navy
  • QinetiQ

We’re delighted to report that Flt Lt McNamara of the Royal Air Force was presented with the McKenna trophy, a prestigious accolade awarded in recognition of outstanding performances across the course and for representing the core values and ethos of flight test, as a team endeavour.

The trophy was established in memory of Gp. Capt John McKenna, Commandant of ETPS in 1945, following his death in a flying accident. He was the second Commandant of the school in 1944.

The class of 2023, like those before them, are now expected to join test and evaluation (T&E) teams across the world, and go on to deliver effective, innovative and safe aviation capabilities for years to come. Having recently celebrated its 80th anniversary, ETPS continues to stand as a beacon of innovation and excellence in aviation.

Well done to the class of 2023. Now the work really begins…fly safe!