FINNINGLEY: Military aerodrome, later an air base and finally a regional airport.
Military aerodrome in WW1 known as BANCROFT FARM (see seperate listing). Later a WW2 aerodrome. In 2005 to become ROBIN HOOD AIRPORT (DONCASTER - SHEFFIELD) - what a mouthful!
(Note: I thought EAST MIDLANDS had taken the ROBIN HOOD title?)
Note: Pictures by the author, taken in June 2015. (All through perspex).
IATA code: DSA ICAO code: EGCN
Operated by: From 2005 - Robin Hood Airport
Military users: Inter-war years: Bomber Command
76 Sqdn (Vickers Wellesleys, later Handley Page Hampdens & Avro Ansons)
77 Sqdn (Hawker Audaxs later Vickers Wellesleys)
WW2: RAF Bomber Command 91 Group
7 & 106 Squadrons (Handley Page Hampdens)*
12 Sqdn (Fairey Battles)
18 (Polish) Sqdn (Bristol Blenheims)
OTU (Vickers Wellingtons)
Note: These three smashing postcard scans were very kindly sent to me by Mike Charlton in September 2017. He has an amazing collection of British aviation postcards, see - www.aviationpostcard.co.uk
18 Sqdn (Vickers Valiants)
Note: 18 Squadron were 199 Squadron whilst based at RAF HONNINGTON.
57 Sqdn (Handley Page Victors)
230 OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) (Avro Vulcans)
101 Sqdn (Avro Vulcans)
By 1980 the ‘V-bomber’ Force Vulcans and later Victors had departed.
6 FTS (Dominies, Jetstreams, Jet Provosts)
22 Sqdn (Westland Wessex)
202 Sqdn (Westland Sea Kings)
9 AEF (DHC.1 Chipmunks)
Yorkshire UAS [University Air Squadron] (Beagle Bulldogs)
1975: (Vickers Varsitys, Hunting-Percival Jet Provosts & H.S. Dominies)
100 Sqdn (H.S. Hawks)
British airline users: Post 2005: Airtours, easyJet, First Choice, Flybe, Links Air, Nouvelair, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomson Airways
Foreign airline users: Post 2005: Aer Lingus, BH Air, Evelop Airlines, FlyGlobeSpan, Ryanair, TUI, Wizz Air
Location: E of A638, W of A614, SW of Finningley village, and 7nm SE of Doncaster
Period of operation: Military: 1936 to 1996 Civil: 2005 -
Note: This map is reproduced with the kind permission of Pooleys Flight Equipment Ltd. Copyright Robert Pooley 2014:
Runways: WW2: 02/20 1829x46 hard 07/25 1280x46 hard
12/30 1280x46 hard
1990: 02/20 2741x61 hard
2014: 02/20 2895x60 hard
NOTES: *It appears 106 Sqdn may also have had Avro Ansons initially (?) and then progressed to Avro Manchesters. A secondary RAF bomber base in 1944 with 2416 personnel on station including 435 WAAFs.
THE KING’S CUP AIR RACES
From 1980 to 1983 the annual King’s Cup Race were held here. Exactly why this came about appears to remain a mystery? After the first event at CROYDON in 1922, the race took place in 1923 from RAF HENDON, then RNAS LEE-on-SOLENT in 1924 and RAF HENDON once again in 1926. Neither of which could be regarded as front-line RAF bases.
On the 21st September 1980 the 103 mile course, with just twelve entrants, was won by Mr A.J. Spiller flying the Cessna 180, G-ASIT. The next year on the 19th September 1981 there were twenty-two entrants for the 103 mile course and this was won by Josephine O’Donnell flying the Piper PA-18 Super Cub G-NICK at an average speed of 102mph – the second women to win this race since Miss Winifred Brown won in 1930 at HANWORTH (LONDON) competing against by far the greatest number of entrants ever for the King’s Cup – with eighty-eight aircraft competing.
The next year on the 4th September 1982 Geoffrey Richardson won flying the Bölkow Bo 209 Monsun, G-AZOB at an average speed of 154.81mph. 1983 was the last year the King’s Cup was held here and the winner over the 105 mile course with twenty-nine entrants was Mr Don Sainsbury in a Piper PA-28R Cherokee Arrow at an average of 166.54mph.
In 1977 the Percival P.30 Proctor 2E G-AKZN (ZF197) was reported as being based here. It was on the UK register but was it airworthy?
It was in 1991 that a press releases announced that Flight Lieutenant Julie Ann Gibson would make history on Friday the 14th of June, when she graduated as the first female pilot in the seventy year old history of the RAF.
Due to the length and width of the runway FINNINGLEY had the unusual distinction, among UK airfields, of being an emergency diversion airfield for the Space Shuttle
THE AVRO VULCAN XH558
After being restored to flying condition at BRUNTINGTHORPE (LEICESTERSHIRE) in 2007, the decision to move the Vulcan here was implemented in 2010. I cannot seem to find the reason for the move. Either way the 'writing was on the wall' and after the 2015 air-show season XH558 was grounded for good it seems.
It seems uncertain if XH558 will be used for taxying demonstrations? Unlike XM655 at WELLESBOURNE MOUNTFORD, and XL426 at SOUTHEND.
A SECOND CAREER
Probably the second major UK military air base to revert to being a major regional airport since the end of ‘The Cold War?’. NEWQUAY (St MAWGAN) in CORNWALL being the first? But, FINNINGLEY had, for a while at least, long haul international operations taking place by FlyGlobeSpan. Scheduled passenger services started here in April 2005. Thompsonfly were to be the initial operators along with Ryanair and Thomas Cook Airlines.
Since opening as a civil airport DONCASTER SHEFFIELD has seen quite a range of fluctuations regarding passenger volumes; the highest (up till 2014) being 2.28 million pax in 2007 compared to, for example, 700,000 in 2012. It is interesting to see how some airlines have made a success of being based here, whereas others such as easyJet stayed for just a couple of years - proving that judging the best range of services being offered can be a very tricky business even for operators who have been hugely successful elsewhere.
Robert WainmanThis comment was written on: 2016-11-02 13:21:06
What an interesting site. My Grandfather John Gill, was landlord of the "Eagle and Child' at Auckley, the next village to Finningley during WW2 and I grew up with stories of wonderful evenings (some humorous and a few sad) spent in the pub by the RAF. In the early days of Hampden's the aircrew, many of whom were very friendly with my grandparents and Nora, my mother - would attempt to impress by 'bombing' the car park - more than once! The pub would be sea of blue - RAF uniforms and cigarette smoke packed out the blacked out warm and cosy little pub every evening, my Grandfather played the piano . . . and of course the airmen had their own words to the songs! The aircrew lived for the day, never knowing what may become of them, which naturally heightened the emotions of the time. Once, before the airfield was extended over a former road, my mother was on a local Leon bus when the conductress shouted "Get Down" - as a German plane gave them a very close shave! The "Eagle" was loved by the RAF from Finningley and I feel really privileged or know of so many stories and to understand something of the atmosphere of the time. Years later, the highlight of the year for me was always the "At Home" day air display, with wonderful memories of Vulcan Scrambles when the aircrew had to run to the planes and be airborne I believe in two minutes. I'm pleased that the airfield lives on as Robin Hood airport and of course the home of Vulcan 558.
Reply from Dick Flute:
Dear Robert, Many thanks indeed for these lovely memories. I shall keep your comment posted. My best regards, Dick
Michael McintoshThis comment was written on: 2018-01-18 14:11:08
lived at finningley from 1961 to1966 my dad was electrician on the Vulcans our married quarters were right at he end of the runway brought up on the Vulcan howl and the smell of av fuel happy days
IanThis comment was written on: 2018-04-25 11:35:14
Love the comments about the Eagle and Child pub. I live in one of RAF Finningly's old Married Quarters which we bought about 19 years ago. My wife and I occasionally eat and drink "int' Eagle" at Auckley, the neighbouring village. I was told that the Camp was linked to Finningly village by a small access road which disappeared when the runway was extended to take V bombers. Subsequently the old Finningly quarters are now designated as part of Auckley parish. The eagle and Child pub, once a great favourite of the RAF has changed hands 3 times since I've been here. Happily it is thriving under the management of a former Artilleryman.
Catherine SherwinThis comment was written on: 2019-03-16 16:06:00
My father was stationed at RAF Finningley 1954 to 1957/58. I was only little but I remember such good times there. I went to the little school on the camp and my sisters and I had a fabulous few years there with freedom and safety. Would love to go back but I understand the Officers Quarters have been demolished. Pity. Much history.
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