Although many readers will always think of the busy bustling aerodrome near Cirencester as Kemble Airport, there is more than one good reason why it was renamed in 2009, as The Standard discovered when the paper met with airport director Christian Ackroyd.

Perhaps most famous as the former home of the striking scarlet gnats of the Red Arrows which first arrived at the airfield near Cirencester in the 1960s and stayed for nearly two decades, Cotswold Airport first became a bustling hub for aviation in 1938.

Originally the site of an RAF maintenance unit during the second world war, by the 1940s the airport was used as a training facility for crews and aircraft for long hazardous flights over water and occupied territory to Africa and the Middle East.

Airport director Christian Ackroyd, who previously served with the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers Regiment for twenty years before taking up his role at the airport last March, explained why he believes the airport is so special.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Airport director Christian Ackroyd says that the next few years are looking very exciting

“The airport has played a pivotal role in aviation history and we’ve seen some truly iconic planes using it as a base for decades - from the Red Arrow gnats to Hurricanes and Dakotas,” Chris said.

“Over nearly a century the facility has evolved to meet new challenges or opportunities in the industry, and as a team we’re fully committed to keeping that energy growing. The next few years are going to be really exciting”

Part of those plans involve streamlining the way current aircraft use the airfield to ensure that pilots can land and take off safely and easily.

“We have a great range of people who use our runways on a daily basis, from the private pilots who hop in and out, to the flying schools who are training the next generation of pilots, and the corporate jets which bring business people into the area,” Chris explained.

“So we’re investing in new technology to streamline how that works, as well as putting defined flight paths in place around the airport so we don’t disturb the beautiful towns and villages around the airport.”

The new developments include Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) which will allow pilots to land and take off when visibility is poor around the airport.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

The airport is home to a number of flying schools and also offers a pilot scholarship programme

At the moment pilots land using a a ‘visual approach’ which means that during bad weather or low light some aircraft may not be able to land, but the new system will allow planes to be guided in using satellites to map their precise location and approach - which will open the airport to more opportunities.

“But we'll never be a commercial airport,” Christian promises, in response to concerns that local residents have raised.

“What we’re looking to create is an airport that all aviation enthusiasts can enjoy, whether you’re a plane spotter, or a pilot.

“We’re creating a transport hub which will benefit the Cotswolds - allowing people to visit the area for business or pleasure quickly and easily.”

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard:

Throughout the year the airport also hosts a number of other popular events and attractions

In fact the airport has become a bit of a destination in itself –throughout the year thousands of visitors come to see the aircraft that fly in, or for special events such as the vintage fly-in which will see dozens of old aircraft fly into the base on June 29 and 30 this year - when the popular AV8 restaurant will also reopen.

“We’re always going to welcome aviation fans here,” Christian said. “There will never be razor wire around this airfield, we work with everyone around and in the base - which is why the flying schools and clubs will always be like family to us.”

  • To find out more about the introduction of GNSS, the vintage fly-in weekend, or the Cotswold Airport ‘s history visit