The site was first used as an aerodrome in the late 1930’s. From the mid-sixties, the airfield was best known as the home of CSE Aviation and the Oxford Air Training School (now Oxford Aviation Training), one of the world’s most successful professional pilot training establishments having trained well over 18,000 airline pilots for more than 80 airlines over the last 40 years.
Although originally conceived as Oxford’s ‘Municipal Airport’, with the onset of the war the airport turned to training thousands of RAF pilots. In the mid-forties there were a greater number of hangars and buildings than can be seen today with 15 acres of the original land having been sold off in the 1990s allowing the establishment of the Spires Business Park off Langford Lane. Today the airport owns some 375 acres freehold with over 335,000 sq.ft of buildings.
Oxford Airport is owned and operated by Oxford Aviation Services Limited (OASL). Since July 2007, OASL has been owned by Oxford Airport Acquisitions Limited, a subsidiary of Oxford Airport Holdings Ltd which ultimately is owned by Aldersgate Investments. Aldersgate Investments Limited is part of the Reuben Brothers Holdings and is the principle investment vehicle for both private equity and real estate transactions. The parent company has a varied portfolio of interests in property and several other diverse businesses.
1932 Editorial in the Oxford Times:
Urged Council ‘to establish aerodrome to serve city.’ ‘Civil aviation was developing with internal mail and air services.’ ‘Those cities having an airport would reap direct benefits’.
1933 Council approved establishment of ‘Municipal Aerodrome’
1935 Land bought from Blenheim estate and two local farmers for £19,671
1937 Air Ministry granted 12 year lease to establish RAF Volunteer Reserve flight training school
1937 The local Cowley (Morris) factory was producing de Havilland Tiger Moths whilst also repairing damaged or crashed aircraft, including the reprocessing of wreckage of enemy Luftwaffe aircraft
1938 First Miles Magisters, Hawker Hinds and Hawker Audaxes established
1939 First Licensed for public use as Oxford (Campsfield) Civil Aerodrome though first listed as Thrupp airfield.
1939 No.2 Group Training Pool (later No. 13 Operational Training Unit) first established by the Air Ministry at Oxford
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1940 No. 15 SFTS arrived from Brize Norton and had 134 Harvards and several Ansons and Oxfords based at the airport
1940 First four bombs dropped from 50ft by Junkers Ju 88 on the airfield
1941 A further (and final) 20 high explosive bombs were dropped on the airfield
1941 Lord Trenchard on visiting Kidlington in May, announced that training activity on the airfield had accumulated 6,941 flying hours in just that one month, a milestone at the time
1941 Famous aviator Amy Johnson (who flew solo in the Gypsy Moth from Croydon to Australia), disappeared on a flight from Blackpool destined for Kidlington on January 5th, ferrying an Airspeed Oxford. Believed to have crashed in the Thames estuary, neither the aircraft or Amy were ever found
1941 - Sir Winston Churchill, a regular visitor to nearby Ditchley Hall during the war and born at nearby Blenheim Palace, had the Duke of Hamilton fly into Kidlington to brief him personally on the previous day's surprise arrival of a Messerschmitt Bf110 at the Duke's Scottish home. On board was the Deputy Fuhrer, Rudolf Hess, who was attempting to broker a peace deal. The wreckage of the Bf110 was briefly displayed in Oxford city, before being whisked away as a 'Top Secret'
1946 Airtraining (Oxford) Ltd, subsidiary of General Aircraft Ltd re-established after the war and merge as Universal Flying Services Limited
1947 Oxford University Air Squadron moved from Abingdon to Oxford (Kidlington)
1947 Oxford Flying Club resurrected as Oxford Aeroplane Club
1949 Scheduled services established between Oxford and Jersey for £8 return
1951 The final RAF unit at Kidlington, No.96 Maintenance Unit was disbanded
1958 An operation by Derby Aviation (now BMI Baby) flew a scheduled service from East Midlands to Oxford and on to Jersey using the Miles M60 Marathon (G-AMGW)
1958 Oxford Aeroplane Club re-established as prime operator by Goodhew Aviation
1958 Licensed hours extension granted for night operations
1959 Flights to Jersey resumed with Dakotas at £11 return fare
1959 Oxford Aviation Co. Ltd established with Rex Smith as CFI
1959 Irish Air Charter (Lord Kildare) moved from Dublin and established as Vigors Aviation Ltd. as the UK Piper distributor going on to sell 1,500 of the make in the UK
1959 The Air Ministry ceased to operate at Oxford returning airfield to full civil use
1960 Oxford Aeroplane Club concluded transition from private to professional pilot training
1961 Pressed Steel and Oxford Aviation Co. merge operations and established British Executive Air Services Limited (BEAS) selling Brantley helicopters and Beagle aircraft.
1962 First fully integrated commercial pilot’s licences and instrument rating courses began. Danny Kaye, the entertainer, was one of the first students to train for the CPL
1962 CSE Aviation founded (CSE) from former Vigors Aviation operations with Lord Kildare, Dick Hunt and Lord Waterpark as directors and owned by members of the Guinness family (Messrs Channon & Svejdar) and an American millionaire (Mr Erlanger) from whose surnames the initials CSE was derived.
1963 Oxford Air Training School founded (OAT) derived from the BEAS Flying Training Division with Rex Smith as its principal.
1965 OAT becomes the first school in the UK to be granted approval to conduct ab initio courses leading to the Commercial Pilot’s Licence and Instrument Rating
1966 Halls of residence for 140 students built at entrance to airport
1967 CSE signs 21 year lease of airport from the City Council at £7,000 pa.
1967 Oxford has the only privately operated 4-engine jet simulator in the UK
1968 Oxford was second busiest airfield in the UK with 223,270 movements after Heathrow with 247,417 movements
1969 OAT becomes first UK school to be granted approval for helicopter CPL ab initio training
1971 OAT flys over 60,000 hours training flights in one year (was up to 150,000 hours in the late 1990’s)
1971 Oxford’s CSE Aviation supplied and equipped Sheila Scott’s Piper Aztec in which she became the first pilot to fly solo over the north pole in a light aircraft having flown round the world three times, breaking over 100 records.
1972 OAT had won training contracts for 46 major airlines and government bodies representing sixty-two countries.
1972 OAT was the UK’s first educational establishment to obtain a Queens Award to Industry
1975 Asphalt runway laid over original 1097m (3,600ft) grass strip
1976 Engineering training school established
1981 The airport freehold with 577 acres was sold by the council for £1.4m to CSE Aviation Ltd.
1986 CSE Aviation Ltd was sold by the original founders to Oxford Aviation Holdings Ltd whose principle shareholder was Murray McLean, head of Robert Moss Ltd.
1987 HRH the Duchess of York became the first lady in the Royal Family to receive her PPL from Oxford
1988 Main runway lengthened to 1552m (5092ft / 0.96 miles)
1989 New operations, training and control tower building erected
1990 Airport acquired by AB Nyge Aero for under £20m
1990 Shorts 330 scheduled service established to Jersey
1992 McAlpine Helicopters are established at airport
1994 OAT pioneers the use of computer based training culminating in the award of the prestigious Flight International Aerospace Industry Award in 2002
1996 CSE Aviation becomes the first general aviation company in the UK to gain ISO 9001 quality accreditation
1997 The airfield, CSE and OAT as Oxford Aviation Services acquired by Close Brothers Group PLC for £21m
2000 Current parent BBA Group acquired airfield, CSE and OAT as Oxford Aviation Services for £55.4m
2001 OAT established as Europe’s largest training school with over 70 aircraft and 90 instructors with over 500,000 flight hours of combined teaching experience flying over 150,000 hours a year
2003 OAT opens state-of-the-art instrument flight training centre
2003 Licensed runway length increased by 10%
2004 Airport opens dedicated business aviation terminal
2004 Oxford Airport resident, Polly Vacher MBE, completes her second round the world flight via the poles, the first woman to do so in a single engined aircraft and the first to land on all seven continents.
2006 Two new hangars built totaling 37,000 sq.ft., the first for 30 years
2007 Oxford Aviation Training launch Netjets cadet training scheme
2007 Oxford Aviation Training sold to GCAT Flight Academy for £37m
2007 Oxford Airport sold to Aldersgate Investments for £40m
2007 Polly Vacher arrives at Oxford Airport to complete her ‘Wings Around Britain’ tour to all 221 UK airports
2007 Airport completes new 1553m by 30m stronger runway
2007 Airport installs Cat 1 Instrument Landing System
2008 Airport builds new 8,000 sq.ft. executive terminal
2009 Airport builds 21,000 sq.ft. ex Easyjet 737-800 hangar
2009 Airport gains Cat 5 rescue & fire capability
2009 Jersey flights start with Air Southwest Dash-8
2009 Awarded 'Best Business Airport' by Airport Operators Association
2010 Airport Upgrades to Cat 6 Fire & Rescue capability (A319/737-500)
2010 Largest Hangar built to date at 48,000 sq.ft.
2010 Aircraft parking apron increased by 4.4 acres (17,800m2)
2010 Largest aircraft lands - an Embraer Lineage (EMB-190) - 119 ft long and 55 tonnes (100 seats)
2011 Runway approved as Code 3C - Take-off distances increased up to 5,223 ft
2012 New primary and secondary radar installed for the first time
2012 Airport's owners, Reuben Brothers, acquire the London Heliport
2012 First new office block for 20 years built at entrance - 12,500 sq.ft.