11/30/2010. Air Service Training (AST) was the brainchild of John Davenport Siddeley, Lord Kenilworth, and was established as a flying training school at Hamble, Hampshire in 1931.
In 1934 the engineering school was formed, and the company became part of the Hawker Siddeley group. Flight and engineering training continued up until 1940, when AST became a Civil Repair Organisation (CRO) for the Air Ministry, and commenced repair of Spitfires damaged in combat, this activity was so successful that an additional facility was opened in Exeter, and by the end of the Second world War over 3400 Spitfires were repaired and returned to front-line service.
Pictured is the last of 3507 repaired aircraft, delivered some nineteen months after the hostilities ended in Europe.
AST resumed civil training in 1947, however, the CRO element became the AST aircraft division and undertook modifications to existing aircraft types to equip them for a civil air transport role, including the fitting of seating, bunks and an AST designed electric oven.
In 1960 AST transferred ownership from Hawker Siddeley to the British and Commonwealth Group of companies, under the Air Holdings/Airwork banner, and the engineering school was transferred to its present site in Perth, Scotland. Following a management buy-out in 1988, the company transferred to BRICOM ownership, and in 1991 another buy-out saw it transfer to Bristow Helicopters Ltd.
In 1996, the former Airwork flying training school was closed, and the AST Engineering School transferred to its current owner, Perth College UHI.