Akeman Street airfield

The site for an airfield at the bottom of Witney Lane was selected at the end of 1939, and took its name from the Roman road that bisected the landing ground. It was developed as a Relief Landing Ground for No 2 Service Flying Training School at Brize Norton, and came into use on 29 June 1940. Training aircraft, Harvard’s and Oxford’s, used the airfield to relieve congestion at Brize Norton. Following the bombing of Brize Norton on 16 August the Advanced Training Squadron with its Oxfords was dispersed to Akeman Street.

On 14 March 1942 No 2 SFTS was re-designated No 2 (Pilots) Advanced Flying Unit and its role was changed. By now the bulk of elementary and service flying training had been transferred overseas as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme (later the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan). Now the (P) AFU’s in the UK gave refresher and acclimatisation training to pilots returning from the EATS overseas. By this time much building work had been completed at Akeman Street, including 10 Over Blister type hangars and a larger Bellman hangar, mainly by John Laing & Son. Oxfords continued to be the aircraft used. No 2 (P) AFU was disbanded on 13 July 1942, and its RLG at Akeman Street was transferred to No 6 (P) AFU at Little Rissington.

For the remainder of the war Akeman Street was used by No 6 (P) AFU Oxford’s for similar twin-engined training, until flying ceased there on 15 August 1945. It remained under Flying Training Command until final closure on 1 February 1947. It then returned to agriculture, but has occasionally been used by crop-spraying aircraft.

Akeman Street was a grass airfield all its life, but the hard perimeter track is still in existence, as are the concrete foundations of wartime huts. At the last visit there was still a pill-box, part of the airfield defence, and a fire tender building.