1964 – 1977

The USAF handed back the airfield to the RAF in June 1964, and during that year ‘C’ Flt of the Central Flying School, moved to Fairford with Gnat T1s.

The ‘Red Arrows’ were based at RAF Fairford from the beginning of 1965 to September 1966 and then transferred to Kemble. Dusty the dog, a Labrador Retriever, was the Red Arrows first mascot but was unfortunately killed by an aircraft on the eve of the Arrows’ first-ever display at RAF Fairford in 1965 www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-28035750

Until 23 May 1967, Fairford was used by the growing Belfast and VC10 fleets while the runway at Brize Norton was out of use and new handling facilities built.

Fairford remained dormant as  a satellite of RAF Brize Norton until September 1967, when it was re-opened as an independent station in Air Support Command to prepare to receive two squadrons of Hercules C1 aircraft, to absorb RAF South Cerney as an administrative satellite on 22 January 1968, and to join No 38 Group on 1 March 1968.

The two Hercules Squadrons (30 and 47) moved to RAF Lyneham in the summer of 1971.

Extensive runway and taxiway resurfacing commenced during April 1977 and continued until September when it resumed its role as a reserve airfield.

The following comment was included in the Feb 1978 Aircraft Illustrated magazine ‘There is considerable local conjecture about the future of Fairford and current indications are that the USAF will return, possibly with its transport aircraft, or alternatively the airborne command post EC-135’s and ultimately AWACS.’



On 9 April 1969, RAF Fairford became the BAC Flight Test Centre and the home of Concorde 002. For the next 2 1/2 years it carried out an intensive development program at Fairford, quickly achieving Mach 2 flight. The first pre-production aircraft arrived 17 Dec 1971 and on 6 Jan 1972 all three, then flying, Concorde were briefly at Fairford when the French prototype arrived during calibration tests. During 1976, 2 further aircrafts were commissioned at Fairford and delivered to Heathrow. 30 Nov the Concorde test flight base at Fairford was closed and the team returned to Filton.


Concorde 002 arriving at RAF Fairford 9th April 1969