Air Force Bases

Royal Air Force Station Upper Heyford, England

Location: Located adjacent to and north of Upper Heyford, 15 miles north of Oxford, 60 miles northwest of London, and 4 miles northwest of Bicester, England.

Origin of current name: Named after a village in England.

Date current name was assigned to base: December 18, 1955

Previous Names: Unk, 1916-1919; RAF Stn Upper Heyford, 1928; Upper Heyford RAF, 15 May 1951.

Date Established: June 27, 1950

Date Occupied: July 7, 1950

Construction Began: July 7, 1950

Base Units: 7509th AB Sq (7509th AB Gp; 3918th AB Gp; 3918th Cmbt Spt Gp; 3918th Strat Wg), 7 Jul 1950; 7514th Cmbt Spt Gp (7514th Tac Gp), 1 Apr 1965; 66th Cmbt Spt Gp, 10 Aug 1966; 20th Cmbt Spt Gp, 1 Apr 1970

Changes in Capability: Established as Royal Fly- ing Corps field in 1916 and closed 1919; reopened as RAF bomber training base 1928; RAF training base in World War II; following the Berlin Crisis of 1948 and onset of the Cold War, USAF and RAF planned to base U.S. strategic bombers at RAF Marham, Scampton and Waddington, with four other bases, including Upper Heyford, designated as standby or strategic dispersal bases; 7509th AB Sq arrived to take command of and coordinate airfield construction work at Upper Heyford 7 Jul 1950; after extensive runway renovation and construction of base and support facilities, the Third AF (USAFE) relinquished operational and administrative control of base to the 7th Air Div (SAC) on 10 Apr 1952; SAC commenced KC-50 tanker rotations in 1951 and B/RB-36 bomber rotations in 1952, followed by B-47 rotations 1953-1965; SAC reflex operations drew down late in 1964 and ended in Jan 1965; USAFE again assumed operational and administrative control of RAF Upper Heyford on 1 Apr 1965, initially using it as a dispersal base; with arrival of the 66th Tac Recon Wg from Laon AB, France, Heyford became main operating base on 1 Sep 1966; provided support for 20th Tac Ftr Wg after its arrival from RAF Wethersfield 1 Apr 1970; construction of two airmen's dormitories (140-man capacity each), two maintenance hangars, two aircraft maintenance docks on the north Taxiway, a 72-unit officer housing facility, and a helicopter pad completed by the end of 1972; construction of additional equipment storage sheds completed in 1973; base engineers renovated two airmen's dormitories, with construction completed on a base bowling alley, NCO Club, Base Exchange shopping center, taxitrack, aircraft weather shelter, two fuel storage tanks, and an ammunition storage facility, 1974-1975; contract workmen reinforced the main runway, built a base gymnasium, and erected dual BAR-12 arrester devices in 1976; 19 ammunition storage igloo structures and eight multi-barrel ammunition storage igloo structures constructed, base water system modernized, and up-to-date fire fighter equipment installed, including a 350,000 gallon ground-level tank with pumphouse, 1977-1978; POL facility completed in 1979; more recent improvements included fencing, lighting, and general improvement of perimeter security for base ammunition storage, a new parallel taxiway, widening of the NATO taxitrack, construction of 31 weatherproof aircraft shelters, a hardened alert area, and a composite medical facility, 1979-1982.

Changes in Status: Royal Flying Corps field, 1916; base closed, 1919; reopened as active RAF training and bomber base, 1928; RAF training base, 1939-1950; operated by USAF in cooperation with RAF, 27 Jun 1950; under sole operational control of USAF, 15 May 1951; reduced to dispersal base status, 1 Apr 1965; assigned main operating base status, 1 Sep 1966.

Base was Decommissioned on September 30, 1994


RAF Upper Heyford was a Royal Air Force station located 5 miles (8 km) north-west of Bicester near the village of Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire, England. The base was brought into use for flying in July 1918 by the Royal Flying Corps. During World War II it was used by many units of the RAF, mainly as a training facility. In September 1939 it was the home of No. 70 Wing RAF with Nos 18 and 57 Squadrons, part of No. 2 Group RAF. From March 1946 until June 1950 it was the home of No.1 Parachute Training School RAF.

During the Cold War, Upper Heyford served as a base for United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) strategic bombers and United States Air Forces In Europe (USAFE) tactical reconnaissance and fighter aircraft in the UK.

On 15 December 1993, the flight line at RAF Upper Heyford was closed. On 1 January 1994, the 20th Fighter Wing inactivated at RAF Upper Heyford and was transferred without personnel or equipment to Shaw AFB, South Carolina, where it inherited the personnel and F-16s of the inactivated 363rd Fighter Wing.

At that time, RAF Upper Heyford came under the 620th Air Base Wing, until 30 September 1994 when the base was returned to the Ministry of Defence.

The runways are now used as an automotive storage compound for new and used vehicles. Other functions include Police driving activities such as training. The majority of the residential buildings are now let out as rented accommodation and some of the shops and services have been re-opened to service the community.

There are however many buildings which are still boarded up and it is currently unclear what the future of those will be. It seems that many of the buildings such as the Hospital have been targeted by vandals who have smashed glass and walls in as well as internal fittings. Graffiti has also occurred, as well as the whole hospital suffering from damage from leaking rainwater that has subsequently caused extensive mould, damp floors and a flooded basement. The building, however has now been secured as it is rumored to be sold. The disused buildings have also become fairly popular with local Urban Explorers.