Sywell is unusual in having remained in private ownership since its founding over 70 years ago and in providing flying training facilities throughout that time.
The first aerodrome, occupying the western portion of the present site, was prepared by the members of the newly formed Northamptonshire Aero Club, led by the brothers Jack and Geoff Linnell and opened in 1928.
Sywell quickly became a mecca for Club and private pilots and its annual air displays attracted wide participation.
Flying training became nationally important as Britain rapidly expanded the Royal Air Force from the mid 1930’s. Sywell played a key role following the establishment of a large flying school by Brooklands Aviation to teach RAF pilots to fly and the establishment of the local RAF Volunteer Reserve.
During the Second World War activities at Sywell included the expansion of flying training, repairs to 1,841 of the RAF’s Wellington bombers and completion and flight testing of some 260 Lancaster Mk 2 four engined bombers.
Apart from the large number of wartime RAF, Commonwealth and Allied pilots (approximately 2,500) who were trained at Sywell, the Aerodrome was also the centre for training the "Free French" pilots who had escaped to England from occupied France.
After the War basic and reserve training for the RAF continued for some years, together with the overhaul of RAF Wellington, Mosquito, Dakota, Valetta and Varsity aircraft.
By the 1960’s Sywell had returned to the quieter role of civilian aerodrome with Club and private flying, although for a few years scheduled passenger services operated to the Channel Islands. Many light aviation events, including the Popular Flying Association’s Annual Rally, were held at Sywell in the last 25 years.
To compensate for a reduced level of flying, Sywell’s potential in other business areas has been steadily realised up to the present day. Activities include farming of the areas not required for flying, use of redundant hangars for warehousing and engineering and the incorporation of the original terminal building and RAF messes into a restaurant and hotel complex.
Flying continues to thrive at Sywell of course, with light aircraft, microlight training and maintenance available together with hangarage for privately owned aircraft.
Sywell Aerodrome has reached its 70th birthday as an active aerodrome, but far from "retiring" has embarked on a programme of improvements to its facilities and services to attract more pilots and operators of private and business aircraft and helicopters.
Sywell’s publicity slogan in the 1920’s will continue to be as true in the future as it was then : "You can fly well at Sywell"
Sywell Aerodrome Ltd
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