HIS­TORY

Pilot - - AIRFIELD PROFILE -

In 1910, a field on the cur­rent air­field site was rented by Harold Pif­fard and Ge­orge Wingfield to flight-test Pif­fard’s de­signs. A year later, it be­came the first air­port in the UK to be given a com­mer­cial li­cence, as Brighton and Shore­ham Aero­drome. A restau­rant was opened and in 1912 a pav­il­ion for the Brighton and Shore­ham Aero Club. Eric and Ce­cil Pash­ley started sell­ing joyrides in 1913 and opened a fly­ing school in 1914. The air­field was used by the RFC through­out the Great War, end­ing up as a site for train­ing (newly-formed) RAF fly­ing in­struc­tors. The Miles Brothers op­er­ated from the air­field be­tween 1925 and 1932.

The cor­po­ra­tions of Brighton, Hove and Wor­thing jointly bought some 150 acres on the orig­i­nal air­port site in 1933; the Brighton Hove and Wor­thing Mu­nic­i­pal Air­port was opened in 1936, with a new art deco ter­mi­nal build­ing de­signed by Stavers H. Tilt­man. Ol­ley Air Ser­vices of Croy­don were ap­pointed to run the air­port, which was used for both pri­vate and com­mer­cial flights to Croy­don, the Chan­nel Is­lands and France (Deauville). At its peak, 6,000 passengers were car­ried an­nu­ally. Train­ing of RAF Vol­un­teer Re­serve pi­lots be­gan in 1937 and, af­ter a brief in­ter­lude in 1939 when in­ter­na­tional pas­sen­ger flights were trans­ferred from Croy­don for safety rea­sons, the air­field be­came an RAF air-sea res­cue and fighter base.

Post­war, Ce­cil Pash­ley (the joyride op­er­a­tor) re­turned, set­ting up the South Coast Fly­ing Club. Miles and Bea­gle Air­craft came here in 1951, but didn’t stay long. Flight train­ing, plea­sure fly­ing and light busi­ness use has con­tin­ued to the present day. Sched­uled ser­vices have been tried, but no one has yet been able to re­peat the suc­cess of the in­ter-war years. The hard run­way was con­structed in 1982. In 2006, the coun­cils sold the air­port to a prop­erty ser­vices com­pany.

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