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Llanbedr Airport

Llanbedr Airport
Airport type Private-owned, Public-use
Owner Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP
Location Llanbedr, Gwynedd
Elevation AMSL 80 ft / 24 m

52°48′18″N 004°07′38″W / 52.80500°N 4.12722°W / 52.80500; -4.12722Coordinates: 52°48′18″N 004°07′38″W / 52.80500°N 4.12722°W / 52.80500; -4.12722{{#coordinates:52|48|18|N|004|07|38|W|type:airport_region:GB |primary |name=

Location in Gwynedd
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Llanbedr Airport (ICAO: EGFD), formerly RAF Llanbedr (ICAO: EGOD), is an operational general aviation airport located in the Snowdonia National Park near the village of Llanbedr, Gwynedd, northwest Wales.


It opened in 1941 as part of RAF Fighter Command's 12 Group.[1] During its life, the base has been known as:

  • RAF Llanbedr until 1957
  • RAE Llanbedr until 1992
  • T&EE Llanbedr (Test & Evaluation Establishment) until 1995.
  • DTEO Llanbedr (Defence Test & Evaluation Organisation) until 1997
  • DERA Llanbedr until 2001, when most of DERA became QinetiQ.

The site was (from Spring 1942) an operational base for Towed Target (and in 1943, became the home of the RAF's No. 12 Fighter Gunnery School), and later, Target Drone services to the UK Armed Forces. Target provision services were typically to the Cardigan Bay Ranges (UK Danger Area EGD201, under the control of Aberporth) but Llanbedr targets also worked other UK ranges, including the Royal Artillery range off the Hebrides and occasionally overseas.

Post RAF

From 1957, civilianisation of the base services (typically airfield operation) began with Short Brothers holding a series of contracts until 1979, when Airwork Services took over and held them until 1991. In 1991, contracts and scope of work changed again and FR Serco took over its running.

Secondarily, it served as a Royal Air Force V bomber dispersal airfield, more recently used for military weapons training. The site closed in 2004. Navigational and ATC equipment was removed by the military and the site put up for sale.

In May 2014 the airport re-opened, catering for the needs of general aviation activities in the area.[2]

Recent events

In recent years, the site has been used for agricultural purposes under the terms of an agreement with the Welsh Government, the current site owners.

It was reported in February 2008 that Welsh Ministers had awarded preferred bidder status for a 125-year lease to the operators of Kemble Airport near Cirencester.[3][4] In May 2008, the Snowdonia Society, the Brecon Beacons Park Society and the Friends of Pembrokeshire National Park formed an alliance against the development of a new civilian airport at the site without a full public debate "best achieved by making an application for planning permission".[5]

This campaign has been opposed by members of the local population who are in favour of the reuse and redevelopment of the site. A paper-based petition in favour of Kemble's plans for the airfield attracted over a thousand signatures, while an e-petition from the Snowdonia Society received 156.

In December 2008, the Welsh Government gave the go-head for Kemble to take over the airfield, subject to Kemble obtaining the "relevant permissions and consents."[6] In November 2009, the Snowdonia National Park Authority took external legal advice and refused to issue certificates of lawful use to Kemble. In August 2011, a certificate was granted to Llanbedr Airfield Estates for use of the airport to test and develop unmanned aerial vehicles.[7]

In August 2012, permission was granted to turn the airfield into a yard for the dismantling of airliners.[8]

In January 2013 the Welsh Government included the site in the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone.

In June 2014 Fly Llanbedr Limited were awarded their licence to run a flight training and air experience operation from Llanbedr Airfield.

In July 2014 it was named as one of 8 possible locations for the UK spaceport the British government is looking to establish by 2018.[9] The shortlist was reduced to 6 airports in March 2015, with Llanbedr still a candidate.[10]

List of types flown from Llanbedr

Target tug

Target drones

Communication and ferry role

Fast radar target/shepherding role for unmanned target drones/photochase


  • Mike Hollingsworth MBE; Gordon Campbell Owen BD AMRAeS (2004). Fireflash to Skyflash. RAF Benevolent Fund. ISBN 1-89980-812-4. 
  • Mills, J. Wendy F. (2002). Target Rolling: A History of Llanbedr Airfield. Hinckley, UK: Midland Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 1-85780-136-9. 
  1. ^ Willis S & B R Holliss (1987) Military Airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945 (Omnibus Edition), Woolnough Bookbinding Ltd, Northants, 283 pp, ISBN 0-907700-12-8
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Successful airport operator in pole position for Llanbedr airfield". Western Mail. 2008-02-27. Retrieved 2008-05-07. 
  4. ^ "Airfield takeover by private firm". BBC Wales News. 2008-02-26. Retrieved 2008-05-07. 
  5. ^ "Airport will 'ruin' national park". BBC Wales News. 2008-05-07. Retrieved 2008-05-07. 
  6. ^ "Park airfield sale given go-ahead". BBC News. 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  7. ^ "Plans for military airfield in Snowdonia welcomed". BBC News. 2011-08-10. Retrieved 2011-08-10. 
  8. ^ "Airliner scrapyard plans go ahead at Llanbedr Airfield". BBC News. 2012-08-15. Retrieved 2012-08-15. 
  9. ^ "Scotland could be base for spaceport, says UK government". BBC News (BBC). BBC News. 13 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  10. ^ Amos, Jonathan (3 March 2015). "UK ministers issue spaceport shortlist". BBC News Online. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 

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