In the beginning
What in later years would be called 'air-mindedness' was sweeping the
nation in the early 1930's. Alan Cobham and his Flying Circus were making
regular stops at towns around the UK.
|Being the largest town in the area he
approached the Aylebury District Council and proposed a new airfield on
land that was available just outside the small village of Haddenham.
Getting some encouragement he proposed the name Aylesbury Airport and
formed a new company with the same name to acquire the land from a Mr R.T.
Bounded on the west side by the Great Western Railway, to the north by the Aylesbury to Thame road and to the south by the small village of Haddenham, the area purchased consisted of numerous fields amounting to about 80 acres in all.
Looking north-west this photo taken in 1936 from 2000ft shows the proposed area of the new Aylesbury Airport.
Note the small size of the village.
John Coxon's plans were very comprehensive and Hunters of Chester started work straight away to clear hedges and level the ground as best as possible. The plans included a control tower, hangars and even floodlights for night flying. Another idea was for an aircraft factory to be built next to the railway line and have it's own stop (almost exactly where the modern railway station is now).
With large hangars, a proper control tower and other 'modern' amenities, Aylesbury Airport would have been a major feature in the local area. It certainly would have been the largest civilian airfield for some distance.
However all did not go as planned and Mr Coxon's grand ideas went
unfinished. I can only presume a lack of money halted proceedings and it
is certain that he expected some funds to come from Aylesbury District
Council. So, in 1937 with no licence applied for from the Ministry of
Aviation, the land was put up for sale.
The Civil Air Guard Scheme was a Government initiative to help increase
the number of trained pilots in Britain at a time when there were
increasing tensions on mainland Europe and the likelihood of war was
growing every day. By 1939 there were 22,000 people on the waiting list in
the London area alone, all looking to learn to fly.
The first order of business was to order six Piper Cub’s to start the
training with. The version chosen was the J-4 Cub Coupe which had two
seats side-by-side instead of the more familiar tandem arrangement of the
famous J-3. The Cub’s were chosen in favour of the obvious types from the
De Havilland stable such as the Gypsy Moth because they were much cheaper
to buy and run and also had an enclosed cockpit, the latter being in the
forefront of the mind of any instructor working in the British
Dennis Fox, being a member of the Volunteer Reserve, was called up and went into Bomber Command. Thomas Cholmondeley Tapper went into the Air Transport Auxiliary. (See the chapter on Airtech Ltd for more information on their wartime service).
For those interested in the aircraft themselves, G-AFXS was impressed
soon after war broke out and went to Larkhill on Salisbury Plain in 1941
to the first Air Observation Post unit namely ‘D’ Flight. After an
accident in December 1942 it was transferred to No 10 Group Communications
Flight based at RAF Bolt Head in Devon where on the 19th October 1943 it
was blown over on landing. After it had been to Taylorcrafts at Leicester
for repair it languished at No 5 Maintenance Unit for the rest of the
©Copyright Peter Chamberlain, 2009, 2010, 2011