Airport History

The History of Cotswold Airport

red arrows air force display Cotswold Airport history

Nestled amidst the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, Cotswold Airport boasts a past as captivating as its scenic surroundings. From its humble beginnings as a Royal Air Force base to its current incarnation as a vibrant hub for general aviation, the airport's story is one of resilience, innovation, and a touch of aeronautical magic.

Taking Flight in the Shadow of War

Our journey begins in 1936, when the airfield known as RAF Kemble was first commissioned. Built just before the Second World War, Kemble played a crucial role in the war effort. It served as a training ground for countless pilots, a vital staging point for aircraft ferrying across the country, and even witnessed a daring wartime collision between a British Hurricane and a German bomber.

The Home of the Red Arrows

Following the war, Kemble entered a new era of dazzling displays. From 1966 to 1983, the airfield became the proud home of the famed Red Arrows aerobatic team. The graceful Hawks painted the skies with vibrant trails, captivating audiences across the UK and beyond. Even today, Kemble echoes with the memory of their awe-inspiring manoeuvres with a Red Arrows 'GNAT' on static display by our AV8 cafe.

From Military Might to Modern Marvel

With the dawn of the 21st century, Kemble embarked on a remarkable transformation. Transitioning to civilian life as Cotswold Airport as we see it today, it embraced a multitude of roles. The tarmac welcomed flying schools, maintenance facilities, and even a fleet of retired jumbo jets, offering a unique glimpse into aviation history.

A Legacy of Aviation Excellence

Today, Cotswold Airport stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of flight. It's a place where the past whispers through hangars and Spitfires offer pleasure flights, where the present buzzes with the excitement of training flights, general aviation and luxury jet travel, and where the future takes shape in the dreams of aspiring aviators visiting the storied aerodrome. Cotswold Airport is also now home to the Negus Boing 747 ‘Queen of the Skies’ – a lasting memorial to a truly historic and majestic aircraft that transformed modern commercial air travel.

Visiting Cotswold Airport

For history buffs, aviation enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a touch of nostalgia, Cotswold Airport offers a wealth of experiences. Witness aircraft take to the skies, or simply soak up the atmosphere of a bygone era. With its rich history and vibrant present, Cotswold Airport is truly a destination where dreams take flight.

Boeing 747 Negus at Cotswold Airport