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Fairoaks Airport History

The land on which Fairoaks is now situated was originally called Dolley's Farm, but at some point, believed to be in 1931, the name was changed to Fair Oaks and flying from a grass strip commenced.

A typical day at Fairoaks Airport in 2016. Photo: Michael Jones.

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Fairoaks Airport History

In the early postwar years, the airfield was managed by Universal Flying Services, which operated a flying training school and provided aircraft maintenance services. The airfield was sold by auction in 1967. Alan Mann Helicopters began operations there in 1968 after which The Alan Mann Group became the operator.

Piper Tripacers and Jack Brabham’s Cessna 180 on the apron at Fairoaks Airport Chobham in 1960. Photo: Michael Jones.

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Fairoaks Airport History

The hard runway was constructed in 1979. The Alan Mann Group sold its interests in 2008 to Albemarle Fairoaks Airport Ltd which owns Fairoaks Operations Ltd, the operator.

N.A. P-51 Mustang based at Fairoaks Airport Chobham for a short period in the 1970s. Photo: John Burchell.

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In 1936 the Air Ministry requisitioned it and started work on converting a motley collection of small fields and a farmhouse into an airfield with the addition of two hangars, a control tower, offices and parachute tower. Once operational, the airfield was utilised in the war years for both aircraft repair and the training of more than 6,000 pilots.

The book ‘Fairoaks Airport’  by author Michael Jones reveals the history of the airfield and is filled with more than 600 black and white photographs.

In the years after the war...

Universal Flying Services operated the Fairoaks Aero Club and the airfield until 1967 when the Ministry of Defence put the airfield up for auction. It was bought privately by Douglas Arnold, a flamboyant and provocative character, who following constant battles with residents and local authorities alike, sold out to the Alan Mann Group in 1972.

DH Dragon Rapide of Parachute Regiment Free Fall Club visiting Fairoaks Airport Chobham for maintenance in 1970. Photo: John Burchell.

The most significant facility improvement...

Undertaken by the Alan Mann Group was the construction of an 800m tarmac runway in 1979, which replaced the original grass strip. Planning permission was originally refused by the LPA but granted on appeal by the Secretary of State in 1978

Boeing 247D airliner visiting Fairoaks Airport Chobham en route to the Science Museum Wroughton in 1982. Photo: Michael Jones.

On 26th July 2007...

Fairoaks, which by now consisted of 310 acres of which 210 acres was licensed by the CAA and its operating company Fairoaks Airport Ltd (FAL), was sold to Erinaceous Group Plc (ERG). On the same day ERG itself sold off 40 acres of the airfield comprising most of the airport buildings, forming a Major Developed Site (MOS) within the Green Belt, plus some undeveloped land to Albemarle Fairoaks Ltd, an independent property syndicate company.

Britten Norman Islander being fitted with long range fuel tanks at Fairoaks Airport Chobham prior to ferry flight to the Falkland Islands in 1989. Photo: John Burchell.

Since that date there has been a series of corporate events that have led the 40 acres to be in the current ownership of Airport Development Partners SA. The remainder of the airport land (i.e. 270 acres) with Albemarle Fairoaks Airport Limited, whose wholly owned subsidiary Fairoaks Operations Limited hold the airport’s CAA operating licence.