EGTF Fairoaks


Tiger Moth G-ANUD from Barry Davidson

Some notes on Fairoak from Terry Clark

First used as an airfield in 1931 then taken over by the Air Ministry in 1936 and re-developed to become a Flying Training School.  The ‘control tower’ in the photo was built about this time.
During WW2, some 6,000 pilots were trained at Fairoaks and the FTS had 4 satellite airifelds, relief land grounds (RLGs) at Smiths Lawn and Winkfield Row and emergency landing grounds (ELGs) at Merrow (just east of Guildford) and Bray Court (just east of Maidenhead) .
One famous person trained to be a pilot here was a Mr James Wight, better known to you as James Herriot, the vet.  I’m sure there were other famous’ persons trained here; as it is known Prince Philip did some flying from Smith’s Lawn, it could be he was trained here.
Postwar the airfield was operated by Universal Flying Services on behalf of the Ministry and accepted civil aircraft as well as military, with the FTS disbanding in the mid ’50s.
In 1967, it was sold by MOD for £152000 and has had several owners to this day.  One of these owners was Alan Mann and Noel Edmonds and David Essex both learned to fly helicopters with Alan Mann Helicopters
The service presently provided from the ‘control tower’ is AFIS, the FISOs having the additional duties of collecting landing and parking fees and fuel payments.
Prior to the FISO Licensing system being started in the ’80s, the service provided was ATC but by ‘unlicensed’ controllers, as it was at other ex military or ex MoA airfields like Blackbushe and Biggin Hill.  How this operated legally I don’t know, I only know that when I started training at Farnborough in 1974, the first ‘Fairoaks Tower ‘ voice I spoke to was an ex ATCO Cadet who had been terminated from my Cadet course (No 23) during aerodrome control training!

and Terry has added that ex NATS personnel working at Fairoaks have included Colin Scarse (ex ATCO Cadet c1974) and more recently Bob Trott ex TC, Martin Hill ex TC, Terry Clark ex Farnborough. All the former operated as FISOs.  Others include John Halloway ex TC – flying instructor and Malcolm Hemming ex LATCC/Farnborough/Heathrow – flying instructor

3 thoughts on “EGTF Fairoaks”

    1. Fairoaks has featured in several other films/TV series for instance there is a 1984 made film occasionally shown on TV called ‘Reunion at Fairborough’ which has a sequence in the middle and another at the end both filmed at Fairoaks, the latter one involving Robert Mitchum ‘flying’ a Harvard being ‘sheperded’ in to the airfield by a pair of Hunters.(Other scenes were filmed in Chobham village near where I now live but that’s another story!)
      In about 1987, I was asked to accompany a Bollywood film crew out onto the airfield to film a couple of scenes involving Fuji G-BBRC ‘delivering’ a tall Indian businessman to the airfield; haven’t got a clue what that film was called; may not even have been released over here as I remember only one of the crew, the cameraman, spoke English..


  1. In the late ’60s (possibly later) the airport owner Doug Arnold, built a new tower.
    His second in command at that time tells me it was a small wooden construction with basic equipment such as Aldis Lamp, radio, binoculars, verey pistol , telephone, crash alarm.
    It stood directly on the ground on a base of polished wood about 3 feet high with outward angled windows above. The view of the airfield, even though it was on the ground, was quite good except for part of the main runway and also the hangars to the north obscuring traffic in the circuit.
    It was still in situ near to what is now East Apron in 1975 when I first visited, but by that time with airport ownership having passed to Alan Mann, it was no longer in use, communications reverting to the original tower.
    I have seen a couple of photos of it in a book called ‘Fairoaks Airport, an Illustrated History’ but as these are probably copyright I have made no attempt to get copies.
    The ‘Fairoaks 2020’ campaign which seeks to ‘save’ the airfield from re-development have proposed another ‘new’ tower, this time much taller, about 200m east of the existing one in order to get a clear view of the taxiway from the main apron to the runway 06 holding point, presently obscured by hangars and light industrial buildings. It will also gve a better view of traffic on short final for runway 06, presently part obscured by trees growing off airfield.


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