Report - RAF church fenton FEB 2017

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The Scho
28DL Full Member
Jan 1, 2017
Been wanting to visit this site a while as I loved going to open days as a kid ,
Was just waiting for a nice day to do so .
Upon arrival we saw some new builds on the corner of the site with some new fencing so we did think it had already gone as research showed planning permission for new houses on the site back in November 2016.
Driving a little further on we saw it was in tacked so we decided to go near the back of the site and found a perfect spot where the fence had all been cut open and walked straight in, there was a lot of gun shots but there is a working airfield behind so it would of been to scare the birds ,
I have noticed the last 15 or so sites have had gun shots very close.
We worked from the back to the front, we must of spent 4 hours in the site it is HUGE ,
ventured into all the building minus the tower to the back as there was an air show on and about 5 fences to get past so decided it was not the wisest due to noise also .
found a very weird bunker with huge doors on under ground in 'block 1 ' I am so surprised the floors had not gone through anywhere as they was so spongy and green would not be surprised if they would of fallen through in some places within the year.
pretty trashed but only found one small burnt out area which was a shame but better than most .
all the kitchen items had been left and fridges in the shop which was strange as they looked new .
There was a lot of police tape and a mean A LOT every single building , especially in the shooting range building the floors had disappeared in there so couldn't go in which was a shame .
Also in the kitchen there was a massive pool of blood, strange .

I will post some history now, followed by some pictures.


History 1: The pre-war period

RAF Church Fenton was opened on 1st April 1937, while it was still being constructed. It was built as a result of the RAF's massive pre-war expansion programme, in response to Hitler's move to increase the strength of the German armed forces. The base was designed as a fighter base from the outset, with the task of protecting the industrial regions of Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Humberside. It had decoy fields at Hambleton and Kelfield, both of which have long since vanished. It also had a scatter field at Sherburn-in-Elmet. The runway is still there, but its' use has now changed to a brake pad test-track. Sherburn Aero Club is on a grass strip next to the old wartime runway.
Initially, there was a grass strip runway, and only two shortened 'C' type hangars (the two main hangars which remain). The first residents of the airfield were 72 and 213 Squadrons, flying Gloster Gauntlets and Gladiators. An early "claim to fame" for Church Fenton is that the Gladiators that moved in shortly after opening were the first to be delivered to the RAF. These were the front line fighters of the RAF at the time, yet they were still biplanes (albeit fast and reasonably advanced) - the RAF was only just beginning to move into the monoplane era.

History 2: World War 2

During this period, the airfield was home to many squadrons and aircraft types, such as Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mosquitoes, Blenheims, Beaufighters, Typhoons and Mustangs. As with all of the RAF, inevitably a number of Church Fenton aircrew paid the ultimate price in the defence of Britain.
From the start of the war, until August 1940, Church Fenton was a sector station in 13 Group, being home to both defensive and offensive squadrons. Because of Church Fenton's remoteness from southern England, it had a limited part to play in the Battle of Britain, being used as a base for battle-scarred fighter squadrons to rest and work back up to operational status. Its main job was being part of the defensive network of fighter airfields that protected the industrial cities of northern England from attack by German bombers. Concrete runways had been laid by the end of 1939.
With the development of primitive airborne radar allowing night intercepts to be made more successfully, a need for specially trained aircrew was identified. On 10 August 1940 Church Fenton was transferred to 12 Group, and with this its' role changed to the training of night-fighter aircrew. The first night-fighter Operational Training Unit (54 OTU) was then formed at Church Fenton. 54 stayed at Church Fenton until May 1942, when it moved to RAF Charter Hall.

History 3: 1959 - 2013

After Church Fenton's change of role in July 1959, it became a much more sedate place. For the next three years the only flying taking place would be the far quieter Chipmunks of Leeds University Air Squadron. Various other non-flying units were also on the station at this time.

History 5: 2014 - present

Following the final departure of the RAF in late December 2013, the early part of 2014 saw the removal of a number of items of MoD equipment, including the Instrument Landing System and Precision Approach Radar.
In mid-2014, the whole site was offered for tender by the estate agents Lambert Smith Hampton, with a closing date for tenders of 31st October 2014.
In December 2014, the news began to filter out that the airfield had been bought not by developers as had been feared; but instead it had been bought by local businessman Chris Makin who is himself a pilot.
Whilst not bidding the largest amount in financial terms, the vendors decided that Chris' bid presented the best plan in terms of redevelopment of the site in to a civilian airfield.
A "Fly-in" was held on Sunday 4th January 2015 to mark the hand-over of the airfield from the RAF to the new owner. This fly-in was hugely successful, with around 250 aircraft visiting; Church Fenton's runways have likely never been so busy!
In January 2015, it was announced that Church Fenton would become known as Leeds East Airport, and a new website was launched:
The early months of 2015 saw a hive of activity on the airfield, preparing it for its new lease of life. This includes renovation of the main gates, which had become very rusty during later RAF days, and the re-painting of 3 hangar's doors. Many other tasks were carried out around the site preparing it for use as a civilian airfield.
On 1st April 2015, Leeds East Airport opened for business 7 days a week, offering hangarage, storage, industrial units and office space.












The shooting range






The strange underground bunker with steel doors



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