ASTON DOWN: Military aerodrome later civil gliding site (In WW1 known as MINCHINHAMPTON)
Note: These pictures were obtained from Google Earth ©
Note: All other pictures by the author unless specified.
Military users: WW1: 6 TS (Training Squadron) AFC (Australian Flying Corps)
WW2: RAF Fighter Command
5 OTU [Operatonal Training Unit] (Hawker Hurricanes)
52 OTU (Vickers-Supermarine Spitfires)
55 OTU (Hawker Typhoons)
No. 3 Tactical Exercise Unit (Hurricanes)
84 GSU (Spitfires also based here?)
20 MU (Maintenance Unit) See also BERROW
Post 1945: RAF Transport Command
187 Squadron (Douglas C-47 Dakotas)
1689 (Ferry Pilot Training) Flight
Recent users: MoD as storage depot. Busy gliding site with aero-tows
Operated by: 1980s: The Cotswold Gliding Club moved here in 1967 from LONG NEWNTON
1981: Dowty Gliding Club
Location: S of A419, 4nm S of Stroud
Period of operation: WW1: 1917 to 1918 only? 1938 to present day
(The RAF closed flying operations in 1965)
Runways: WW2: 03/21 1531x46 hard 09/27 1005x46 hard
16/34 982x46 hard
2000: Certainly 03/21 hard still in use (length and width unknown)
Gliders and tugs also use grass areas
It might surprise some to learn that during WW2 some four hundred of the more than six thousand volunteers from the Caribbean and West Africa, wishing to join the RAF, became aircrew in WW2. Mostly they went into Bomber Command but a few became fighter pilots. One such in the latter category was Raymond Britto from Trinidad who was killed on the 2nd January 1943 whilst flying a Spitfire here with 52 OTU.
What the cause of these circumstances were will never be explained, a short report stating he stalled on approach. Pilot error perhaps or possibly an engine problem?
If you are interested in the involvement of 'black' and 'coloured' airmen in the RAF during WW2, please look at my listing for ELSHAM WOLDS for an expanded history.
SOMETHING TO BE LEARNT?
In his book The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Jarrod Cotter says of the Spitfire Mk.XVIe TE311, “On 31 May 1951 it was placed on charge to 1689 (Ferry Pilot Training) Flight, which was based at Aston Down.” I know I’m a bit thick, but can anybody please explain to me the usefulness of a Spitfire for ‘Ferry Flight’ training in 1951? I cannot believe any more could have been gleaned about ferrying Spitfires over and above that learnt during WW2? It appears this Spitfire could obviously demonstrate something of considerable import regarding ‘Ferry Operations’ because it was transferred, (via Flying Training Command), to the Ferry Training Unit at BENSON in OXFORDSHIRE in July 1952, and stayed there until April 1953.
A SATELLITE FOR LITTLE RISSINGTON
In the 1970s, or thereabouts, the Central Flying School at LITTLE RISSINGTON used ASTON DOWN as a satellite airfield with trainee pilots practising circuits here in their Jet Provosts. A little later the Red Arrows also used ASTON DOWN for frequent visits, in those days flying Folland Gnats from LITTLE RISSINGTON.
Apart from delivering equipment in my truck, for storage designated of the latest telecommunications systems required by the MoD, I have also been involved in transporting a couple of light aircraft to and from this airfield. For example the lovely Fokker Eindekker replica G-CHAW in April 2013. Earlier, in December 2011, I collected the Schools Build-A-Plane Rans S.6 G-SBAP for transport to the Royal Tournament at Earls Court in west London. It was a privilege to have been involved in such a wonderful project.
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