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RAF Odiham

RAF Odiham
Near Odiham, Hampshire in England
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Grob glider similar to that used by 618 VGS
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Shown within Hampshire
Coordinates

51°14′03″N 000°56′34″W / 51.23417°N 0.94278°W / 51.23417; -0.94278Coordinates: 51°14′03″N 000°56′34″W / 51.23417°N 0.94278°W / 51.23417; -0.94278{{#coordinates:51|14|03|N|000|56|34|W|region:GB_type:airport |primary |name=

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Type Royal Air Force station
Site information
Owner
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Operator Royal Air Force
Controlled by
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Status
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Site history
Built 1925 (1925)
In use
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Garrison information
Current
commander
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Past
commanders
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Airfield information
Identifiers IATA: ODH, ICAO: EGVO
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Runways
Direction Length and surface
09/27 Script error: No such module "convert". Asphalt
Approach 131.30 Mhz, Tower 119.225 Mhz.

Royal Air Force Odiham or more simply RAF Odiham (IATA: ODHICAO: EGVO) is a Royal Air Force station situated a little to the south of the historic village of Odiham in Hampshire, England. It is the home of the Royal Air Force's heavy lift helicopter, the Chinook HC2, HC2A and HC3. Its current station commander is Group Captain R Maddison OBE MA RAF.

History

Aircraft operations began from the site in 1925 but it was not until October 1937 that it was opened as a permanent airfield, ironically by Erhard Milch, then the Chief of Staff for the Luftwaffe.[1]

Second World War

During the Second World War North American Mustangs and Hawker Typhoons were flown out of the base. After the Allied invasion of Europe the site became a prisoner of war camp.

Postwar

Following the end of the War RAF Fighter Command assumed control of the base and operated Supermarine Spitfires, Hawker Hunters and Gloster Javelins. No. 54 Squadron RAF moved in 1949, flying de Havilland Vampires, before being reequipped with Meteors and being relocated to RAF Stradishall in 1959. As part of her coronation celebrations Queen Elizabeth II reviewed the Royal Air Force at Odiham in 1953.

After a short period in "care and maintenance" status the base was reopened as part of Transport Command. In this role Westland Whirlwind and then Bristol Belvedere helicopters were operated from the base. From 1961 to 1981 the Westland Wessex was based here, joined by the Aérospatiale Puma of 33 Squadron and 230 Squadron in 1970. 230 Squadron moved to RAF Gutersloh in Germany in 1980.

In 1981 the Wessex helicopters of 72 Squadron moved to RAF Aldergrove, followed by 33 Squadron's Pumas in 1997 to RAF Benson. The Wessex moved to RAF Benson and continued to support SHFNI at RAF Aldergrove.

Current role

The first Chinook HC.1s were delivered to the RAF in 1980 and arrived at Odiham in 1981. The first HC.2 arrived in 1993. The RAF ordered the Chinook HC.3, a special forces variant, in 1995. After being in storage for eight years due to avionics certification problems, the HC.3 airframes were retro-fitted with HC.2 avionics during 2009 and 2010, to enable them to finally enter RAF service.[1][10] In 2009, orders were placed for additional aircraft, but this is subject to the Strategic Defence Review due to be published in late 2010.[11] 6 Additional aircraft are to be based at nearby RAF Benson for crew conversion and training prior to the crews joining operational units at Odiham.

618 Volunteer Gliding Squadron arrived in July 2000. The Unit operates the Vigilant T Mk 1 self-launching glider. The Unit provides basic flying and gliding training to members of the Air Cadet Organisation. The Squadron operates normally at weekends and also runs four continuous week courses each year.

In 2010 it was announced that Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire Police would share Air Support. RAF Odiham will house one of two helicopters covering the three counties, the other being based in Shoreham in Sussex.

The Kestrel Gliding Club continues to fly from Odiham at weekends, having become part of the Royal Air Force Gliding and Soaring Association in 2006.

Resident units

References

Citations

Bibliography

  • Jefford, C.G, MBE, BA, RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.

External links