The end of eras

Sunday 16th June 2019 marks the last time we will hear fast jets flying over Dunsfold. The final Wings and Wheels airshow will have concluded. It is the last because the redevelopment of the airfield will soon be welcoming the construction vehicles to try to pull up the runways and perimeters with the aim of building thousands of square metres of industrial space and 1800 houses. I wonder if any of the construction team will appreciate the significance of what they are demolishing, digging up and dragging into a ditch somewhere.

In 1942 farmland, beech woods and farmhouses were requisitioned by the Government to build the bomber base that was to be Dunsfold Airfield.  There was a proviso – and a covenant was agreed to return the lands to agricultural use once the military need had passed.

In 1995 Waverley Borough Council overturned that covenant in court.   The airfield was sold to a speculative developer and eventually a plan was formulated by the developer to build a new town of around 3000 homes.

In between, Dunsfold has played a unique role in the golden age of British aviation. The pages of this website are testament to that and a paragraph or two here can not sum up the diversity of the 60 years of flying operations. I write this as I sit in my garden with 7 of the Red Arrows repositioning overhead ready for their final approach over Dunsfold’s runway 5 miles away. It has not escaped me that they are flying Dunsfold Hawks – it is like the children being invited back to attend the family funeral by the man that dug the grave. As the singleton’s form up for the last time I have to admit I am moved – the roar of the Adours fades into the distance, and I can’t help thinking that in digging up Dunsfold we have lost a tangible link to something important.

Image of Red Arrows: Dave Crosby Flickr. All other images as credited on original pages on

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12 Replies to “The end of eras”

  1. Like our webmaster, I watched the Reds on Saturday from but a distance, but could not help noticing quite early in the proceedings that nine quickly became eight… As they flew in from the east in, I think, a standard Diamond Nine, one peeled off to the south it seemed to me from my point of (dis)advantage. Can anyone who was at W&W tell us more, please? Did he merely break off and return to Farnborough, or did he have to land at Dunsfold..?
    Thank you very much. Ian Goold

    1. Apparently one plane had a technical error so
      was grounded. It didn’t land at dunsfold so I assume it went back to Farnborough where they were stationed overnight

  2. Very sad this is the last Dunsfold Wings and Wheels, unbelievable that the old airfield will be ripped apart to make a new town. I hope it’s forever haunted by aviators!

  3. Very sad day as I finished my apprenticeship in 1991 here and have many fond memories.My favourite is having a final harrier fly past at 500mph and display and bow while sitting in front of the hangar.I was 19 and felt very proud and then went back into work.I also won the BAE UK pool tournament in the old club in 1990.

  4. Sorry to miss this event, but visited in April as my father was with 98squadron during the war with the B25 Michells.

    1. Hi Nick,

      My father, Gerald. P. Casey, from Montréal, Canada, was also with 98 squadron. I bet your dad and my dad knew each other! I went to the airfield a couple of years ago and was able to collect pieces of one of the runways, in anticipation of it being destroyed.

      Kathleen Casey Cook

  5. What a sad day indeed. Another major part of our aviation heritage will be gone forever.
    Worked there from 1980 to 1990 and many fond memeries.

  6. Dad was a WAG with 180 Squadron and did a full tour of ops between September 1944 and April 1945 – mostly with FLt Bruce’s crew. We had the pleasure of a memorable visit in September 1996. The local historian tested my father’s memory regarding Mrs. Babbitt’s house near the airfield. No, Dad replied, we called her Mrs. “Rabbit” – for the delicious rabbit stew she served. Dad passed the test. We will remember them all.

  7. What??? How can this be??? I remember cycling to 40 miles each way to Dunsfold for a post-Falklands air show.

    Although I only went to an airshow at Dunsfold once I have driven past many, many times and always remember the sight and sound of multiple Harriers coming to the spectator line from different directions. Now Dunsfold is vanishing like the Harriers…

  8. I too watched the reds, from home in Cranleigh on the Saturday and from the driveway of fast bridge farm on the Sunday and I also had a tinge of sadness that this was probably the last time that these Dunsfold built hawks would be visiting ” home” as they disappeared into the distance on Sunday. I attended many Dunsfold family days over the years as I had several relatives who worked at Dunsfold over the years under Hawkers and BAE and have many fond memories and photos of these air shows, which I’m sure had better flying line ups than wings and wheels generally had especially the home team flown by Dunsfold test pilots and of course John Farley doing his famous Farley take off. Was and always will be Dunsfold Aerodrome to me never park! R.I.P. Dunsfold Aerodrome

    1. Always Dunsfold Aerodrome, Never, never …. Airfield or Park!!

      RIP Dunsfold Aerodrome. I lived on site for the best part of twenty years, too many amazing memories, mainly of people, but also of aircraft and the lovely Primemeads Farm.

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