Originally formed from A Flight of the Central Flying School
at Upavon on 28 Jun 1917, 72 Squadron has had a long and distinguished service. Its rotary wing reputation began in Nov 1961 when it operated the Belvedere HC.1. After unsatisfactory experience with the Belvedere, it converted to the Wessex HC.2 in Aug 1964 and maintained a SAR detachment at RAF Manston (EGUM), as well as relieving 18 Squadron
in providing a detachment of 3 Wessex to Nicosia in support of UNFICYP
between Dec 1966 and Mar 1968.
On 16 Apr 1981 it moved its main base from Odiham to RAF Benson and on 12 Nov 1981 it transferred to its long time base at RAF Aldergrove (EGAA) in Northern Ireland in support of the Security Forces. From 1991 it also operated a small number of Puma HC.1s. It disbanded as a helicopter unit in Northern Ireland in Apr 2002 and since Jul 2002 operates as 72(R) Squadron, part of 1 FTS at RAF Linton-on-Ouse (EGXU
) with the Tucano.