IN REACH OF THE SKIES

EYE

GREAT ASHFIELD

NORTHOLT

DUXFORD

OLD SARUM

CHILBOLTON

GREENHAM COMMON

KITTY HAWK

EGERTON/

HEADCORN

GRANSDEN LODGE

RAF Eye in Suffolk was one of the last airfields built in WWII, not becoming operational until 1944. It was used by the 8th Air Force and was home to B-24s & B-17s. After the war it reverted to Bomber Command but was gradually run down until being sold off in 1963. Today some old buildings remain as do perimeter tracks and significant sections of runway. However the site is increasingly used by a growing industrial estate and is blighted by wind turbines. Pictured in March 2015.

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Great Ashfield in Suffolk started out as a grass landing strip in WWI but was rebuilt by the USAAF as a bomber field in WWII. It became operational in 1943 being home to B-17s of the 8th Air Force. De-activated in 1945 it was sold off in 1955 and returned to agriculture. However, light aircraft still use part of the runway and evidence of the peritrack and some old buildings remains. As seen in March 2015.

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Northolt in West London was opened in 1915 and is still an active RAF station. It is in fact the last operational station that saw operational use in the Battle of Britain. Largely redeveloped since then there are still some structures that date back to WWII.

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Duxford airfield dates back to 1918 but is better known for its role as a front line fighter station in the Battle of Britain. In 1938 the resident 19 squadron became the first operational Spitfire squadron and were later joined by Hurricanes under Douglas Bader, achieving fame as The Big Wing. By 1943 the airfield had been handed to the USAAF and the 78th Fighter Group. It returned to the RAF after the war but was closed in 1961. Today the field is owned by the IWM , housing a very impressive collection of aircraft, tanks and other artefacts and hosts a number of airshows each year.

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Old Sarum in Wiltshire has its origins in WWI and there are still a number of buildings, notably hangars, from this period. Hangar 1 is occupied by an aviation museum. The field was active in the Battle of Britain and also played a significant role in supporting the D-Day landings. Today the airfield operates under a CAA licence that allows passenger transport and pilot training.

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Chilbolton in Hampshire was opened in 1940 and was a Hawker Hurricane base during the Battle of Britain. The base was then transferred to the USAAF and played an important role in Operation Market Garden in 1944. After hand back to the RAF the airfield hosted the first Vampire squadron but operations gradually ran down in the 60's. Flying ceased by the 80's and the airfield returned to agriculture with most runways removed and turned in to farm tracks. Only a few original buildings remained when I visited in June 2015 with the exception of the technical site which is now a small industrial estate.

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Greenham Common in Hampshire was opened in 1942 and its history is listed in the first picture. Better known as a base for cruise missiles and CND campaigns it closed in 1993 after which it has gradually reverted to a common once again with very little of the original structure remaining except the control tower. I visited in June 2015.

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Kitty Hawk airfield is a modern day landing strip more or less alongside the site from where the Wright Brothers undertook the first powered flight in 1903. See here for my blog report on our visit to the memorial. The new airstrip has limited facilities and is really only note worthy due to its name.

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RAF Headcorn, perhaps a little confusingly, was situated at Egerton whilst the airfield closest to Headcorn itself was RAF Lashenden. The field at Egerton was an ALG operational only in 1943 and 1944 subsequently returning to agriculture. There is little to identify the airfield today other than a nice memorial on the opposite side of the road. Visited August 2015.

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Gransden Lodge in Cambridgeshire was home to a number of bomber units in WWII but was mostly associated with the Halifaxes and LAncasters of 405 Vancouver squadron RCAF. Today the Cambridge University gliding club operates from a small section of the field but most of it has returned to agriculture with few remains apart from a dilapidated control tower. Pictures from December 2015.

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