Operator: Not applicable
Operator’s Identity Codes:
|United Kingdom||South West England||Somerset|
Address: The Old Airport, Locking Moor Road, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, United Kingdom, BS24 8RA
Nearest Town/City: Weston-super-Mare – airport is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) southeast.
|Deg. Min. Sec.||N 51°20’16.5″||W 002°56’32.4″|
|Decimal||N 51.3379°||W 002.9419°|
Elevation: 5 m/17 ft
[geo_mashup_map map_content=”global” center_lat=51.3379 center_lng=-2.9419 zoom=13 name=”airfields”]
In February 1936, work began on the construction of an airport for the seaside holiday town of Weston-super-Mare. Facilities were still very basic when Railway Air Services started scheduled passenger flights from here in May 1936, using D.H.84 Dragon biplanes. During 1938, work on a main passenger terminal and a large hangar was completed. In the same year, a Station Flight for nearby RAF Locking was set up. The school of technical training at RAF Locking was not located at an airfield so the airport provided a useful base for the communications and training activities carried out by the station flight.
In 1939 No.39 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School (39 E&RFTS) was established at Weston. Formally opening on 3 July 1939, the school was operated by a civilian flying school under contract to the Air Ministry. After a review of the future training requirements of the RAF, the school was closed on 2 September 1939 and replaced on the same day by No.5 Civil Air Navigation School, under a further Air Ministry contract. The task switched from pilot training to navigator and observer training, and this entailed replacement of the Miles Magisters, Hawker Audax and Hind trainers with twin-engined Avro Ansons. On 1 November 1939, the unit was taken under RAF control and renamed 5 Air Observer and Navigation School (5 AONS). The success of the Empire Air Training Scheme overseas led to the school being closed at Weston-super-Mare on 22 August 1940 and moving wholesale to South Africa.
All civil flying in Britain had ceased at the outbreak of war (on 3 September 1939), except for a few authorised flights. However, in late October 1939, Weston Airways commenced a limited service to Cardiff, but a lack of passengers soon forced this activity to close. The RAF formally took control of the airfield on 1 May 1940. One of the new owner’s first actions was to lay down a paved main runway of 4,197 feet, and mark out two shorter grass runways.
In September 1940, production of the Bristol Beaufighter commenced at the shadow factory at Old Mixon, which had been constructed during that summer. Completed aircraft were test flown from Weston-super-Mare and then ferried out by the ATA. A new training unit, 10 EFTS arrived on 7 September 1940, flying 30 Tiger Moths. Eleven of these aircraft were subsequently damaged during a fierce gale that blew in on 12 November. In September 1941 the school moved to Stoke Orchard.
After a relatively quite period, 286 Squadron arrived in October 1942 from Colerne. This squadron used Hurricanes, Defiants and Oxfords to fly target facilities missions for anti-aircraft gun batteries in the South West. Detachments from 286 Sqn often deployed to other airfields in the region, but the headquarters remained at Weston. In April 1943 responsibility for RAF Weston-super-Mare was transferred to RAF Technical Training Command, under the control of RAF Locking. The Equipment Training School moved here from Eastbourne in August 1943. Later in 1943, 286 Sqn moved to Weston Zoyland, and was replaced by a detachment of 116 Squadron from Croydon. Flying Airspeed Oxfords, 116 Squadron flew radar calibration flights for anti-aircraft radar systems in the South West and South Wales.
A detachment from the Aircraft Torpedo Development Unit (ATDU) arrived at Weston in March 1944 from Weston Zoyland. The unit flew Swordfish, Beaufighter, Mosquito and Tempest aircraft to both drop torpedoes and also act as chase aircraft to record the drops. The end of the war in 1945 saw control of the airfield pass to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and the resumption of civil flying – including some scheduled services to Cardiff. The last Beaufighter arrived from the Old Mixon factory in September 1945, bringing flight testing to an end. The ATDU moved out in 1949, but the RAF Locking Station Flight remained well into 19??
From March 1955, Bristol Sycamore helicopters were assembled at Old Mixon, and flight testing again took place at Weston-super-Mare. This type was subsequently replaced in production by the Bristol Belvedere. After the last of the Belvederes had departed, civil and military flying continued at Weston until about 1995. In 1989 the Helicopter Museum moved onto the site, and now occupies some of the original 1936 airport buildings. The main activity now comprises helicopter pleasure flights during the summer months, and a base for the annual ‘Helidays’ events organised by the Helicopter Museum.
|February 1936||Work starts on constructing Weston Airport|
|May 1936||First scheduled air services started|
|1938||Main passenger terminal completed|
|3 Sept 1939||Civilian flying halted at outbreak of war|
|1 May 1940||Airfield passed to RAF control|
|May 1940||1 paved and 2 grass runways laid out|
|Sept 1940||Flight testing of Beaufighters begins|
|April 1943||Airfield transferred to RAF Technical Training Command|
|Aug 1943||Equipment Training School established|
|1945||Civil flying resumes|
|1945||Airfield transferred to Ministry of Civil Aviation|
|1949||ATDU detachment departs|
|March 1955||Bristol helicopter flight testing begins|
|1964?||End of helicopter flight testing|
|1989||The Helicopter Museum arrives on site|
|1995?||Last regular civil flights|
|Metres (m)||Feet (ft)||Metres (m)||Feet (ft)|
The following organisations are, or were, permanently based at this location:
Based Military Units
|RAF Locking Station Flight||RAF||1939||?||Communications|
|39 E&RFTS||RAF||3 July 1939||2 Sept 1939||Training|
|No.5 CANS||RAF||2 Sept 1939||1 Nov 1939||Training|
|5 AONS||RAF||1 Nov 1939||22 Aug 1940||Training|
|10 EFTS||RAF||7 Sept 1940||Sept 1941||Training|
|286 Sqn||RAF||10 Oct 1942||29 Nov 1943||Target Facilities|
|116 Sqn||RAF||Dec 1943||1945||Target Facilities|
|ATDU||RAF||Mar 1944||1949||Torpedo Testing|
Based Civilian Operators
|Weston Airways||1938||1939||Scheduled pax services|
|Bristol Aeroplane Co.||Sept 1940||Sept 1945||Flight Testing|
|Bristol Aeroplane Co.||Mar 1955||1964?||Flight Testing|
To be added.
‘Somerset Airfields in the Second World’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
‘The Military Airfields of Britain: South-Western England’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
‘Action Stations Revisited Volume 4 South West England’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
‘Weston Super Mare and the Aeroplane’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
Feature articles to be added.
|Disclaimer: Information is provided on this page for historical purposes only, and not for aerial navigation.|