Kowloon City Stories / Architecture

“Kowloon City Through the Lens” – Far East Flying Training School

Image Source: HKU Libraries

Adjacent to Sung Wong Toi Park nestle three blocks of building, which consist of an arched steel house, a hangar cum office painted with “Hong Kong Aviation Club” on the facade and a club centre. Do you know the story between the complex and the old airport?

Hinted by the surrounding metal fencing, one can tell the complex was previously the campus of Far East Flying Training School. Founded in 1933, the school provided a full spectrum of aviation related training courses, such as flying, aircraft engineering, radio communication, television and radar technologies. To meet the fast developing aviation industry, the courses focused on practical application rather than theoretical learning. Cadet pilots could fly with real aircraft for their training. Back in the past, when air control was not as strict as it is, application for runway slots was simple. The cadet pilots would call the control tower directly by phone beforehand and be informed which runway to take off. When the returning aircraft flew past the tower, the officer would show it the light signal for landing. The best time for flying was before 5am and after 5 pm, when the air traffic was less busy. The school cancelled flying training after the hangar was destroyed by Typhoon Wanda in 1962. When the plan of building a new airport was announced, the school amalgamated with the Hong Kong Aero Club and Hong Kong Flying Club into Hong Kong Aviation Club in the 1980s. It provided leisure flying training on a membership basis. After the closure of Kai Tak Airport, it relocated the flying base to Shek Kong Airfield, while the premises in Sung Wong Toi offer theory courses and flight simulation sessions.

Over the past few decades, Far East Flying Training School has nurtured countless professionals for the aviation industry of Hong Kong. Half of them join the flying business, while the other half work for engineering positions in power plants, the mechanical department in the government, automobile maintenance companies, etc. Listed as a Grade 3 historic building, the facilities are now only open for members. It accepts public group visits for guided tours by reservation.

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