Kenley is still in use by the ATC (615 VGS?) who have three or four Vikings (another ?!!!) and the Surrey Hills Gliding Club who have a variety of gliders in use (and I saw a Slingsby T-61 puttering around the other day which may be theirs). A winch is in use. The hard runways are used for launches and I assume the gliders recover to grass. There are also some blast pens visible on the western side of the airfield, and I think on the north eastern side.
Not sure about airfield buildings: the housing stock was probably sold off to the public.
The airfield is now public common outside the peri-track, while the inside remains no go area to the public, at least when gliding is taking place.
It's a very nice place to be on a sunny afternoon!
Thanks Treadigraph, but I was looking more at reasons why the site has not been developed. Sure, the gliding is making full use of the fact that the airfield is still there, but not necessarily providing the justification for keeping it thus!
I believe that most of Kenley Common is designated a SSI, not sure how far this extends. Greenham Common was subject to local conditions that said that, if it was no longer required as a military airfield, it should be restored to "common" land. Obviously nothing similar at Kenley, but there must be some reason why it has not been "touched" for 37 years!
Perhaps the Govt. have "forgotten" that it's there!
Last edited by newswatcher; 8th Sep 2003 at 23:55.
Some of the airfield has been restored to common land - the northern extension and the area to the west of Hayes Lane, as mentioned.
The land the current airfield is on is still government owned - the intent was originally to return it all to common land, and then at some point this was changed to sell it all for housing (eek!). It seems that the intent is now to retain it, and it will stay as a gliding airfield.
I'm sure the plans will be revisited again, but I do hope Kenley is left alone. It is a brilliant balance between many uses now - the gliders manage, it seems, to live happily along naturalists, walkers, cyclists and even astronomers! If only Hanger 4 had managed to survive....
It's a beautiful peaceful place now, but easily can one imagine Spitfires, Hurricanes or Bulldogs racing off the grass and away over the trees. Long may it stay that way.
My local airfield too, as said before its a lovely place on a sunny afternoon. Lots of history there too. Glad theres still some flying activity there (although the largest thing I've seen in there was a piper cub a few years back)...
My Dad was station adjutant at Kenley in the late 50's. I had to climb Whyteleafe Hill if I spent my bus money on sweets, and used to cut across the airfield on the way back home... it was only a couple of miles to walk... The perimeter of the airfield was littered with wrecked aircraft, including Spitfires and Hurricanes. We spent many an afternoon sitting in the rusting cockpits re-enacting dogfights... there was also a lot of ammunition to be found in the long grass and brambles - mostly .303 cartridges. Some of them made a great bang if you put them on the railway tracks - we never really thought about where the pointy end actually went... About 30 years later I was chatting with an RAF guy who worked at the MoD and had a Kenley MQ - 18 Foxon Close , he said - right next door to where I had lived!
May I ask if you have any photographs of those Spitfires on the perimeter? One, TB885, a 'Reach for the Sky' film veteran, after service as a fire practice machine, was buried post 1958 and recovered in the early 1980's.
'Fraid not, I were only a lad and regarded all these machines as big toys, so their significance wasn't apparent then. ISTR there was also a Wellington wreck on the field. Learnt to ride a bike on Kenley airfield, as well....
I cycled there as a 16 year old from Harrow in 1958, having had a report from RAF cadets at my school. At that time there was the complete but bellied Mk XVI Spitfire TB885, a Spitfire Mk 22 fuselage PK665, a Lincoln bomber bellied with a broken back and several rusty tubed structures which I would be 95% sure where Ansons. Any body else have recall? Many thanks.