Notes from a Warwickshire Pilot: RAF Gaydon

PUBLISHED: 12:35 29 April 2014 | UPDATED: 12:37 29 April 2014

RAF Gaydon from air / Photo: Rachel McCombie

RAF Gaydon from air / Photo: Rachel McCombie

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Warwickshire pilot Rachel McCombie had a great view of Gaydon on her first hot air balloon flight...

I took the photograph above of RAF Gaydon on my first hot air balloon flight, early one stunning morning last October. Accustomed to flying light aircraft and gliders, being in the open air in the balloon basket not only took my breath away, but it made for beautifully clear photographs without a propeller and Perspex in the way!

RAF Gaydon is one of numerous disused Second World War airfields dotted about Warwickshire. Built in 1942, it was highly active during the Second World War and was subsequently an important airfield in the Cold War, receiving the first of the V-bombers that formed part of the UK’s nuclear deterrent force in the 1960s and 70s.

Avro Vulcan XM655, a prominent landmark at Wellesbourne Airfield, was an example of the kind of aircraft once based at RAF Gaydon, though this particular aircraft was stationed somewhere else.

Though no longer used for aviation - save for the poor pilots who occasionally land there having mistaken it for Wellesbourne Airfield - it has fared rather better than many of its contemporaries. Unlike many airfields of this period, which are often so deteriorated and reclaimed by nature that they’re hard to spot from the air, RAF Gaydon’s runway is intact and is now used as a test track for its new occupiers, Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover. It’s also home to the Heritage Motor Museum - the big round building you can see at this end of the runway in the photo above.

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Rachel McCombie is a freelance copywriter living in Stratford-upon-Avon and flying from Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield. She also runs the aviation gift experiences website Air Experiences and a lifestyle blog called Cosy Life, and she can be contacted via her website, Rachel’s Writings. Follow her on twitter: @RachelsWritings

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