A Brief History of Thruxton

Thruxton Manor Estate was requisitioned by The Air Ministry in 1940 for the war effort, and RAF Thruxton's construction was completed in August 1941, serving initially as a satellite station to RAF Andover.

The first aircraft to test the new runway for suitability were Blenheims from neighbouring RAF Andover, however due to the roughness of the concrete landing surface (along with a few burst tyres!) this was abandoned, which prompted The Air Ministry to hasten a tarmacing programme. Officially the first occupants to be based here were the Lysanders and Hurricanes of No. 225 Squadron.

1942 saw the arrival of No.51 Squadron with their Armstrong Whitworth Whitley's. On the evening of the 27th of February 1942, 12 Whitleys took off from Thruxton. Onboard was the Commando unit 2nd Parachute Battalion along with a radar specialist. After successfully managing to penetrate German defences and locating their target, the troops and specialist managed to steal vital components from the Wurtsburg Radar Station, (which was proving to be a major hamper to British airborne forces) prior to destroying the rest of it. With very few losses, the battalion managed to rendezvous with The Royal Navy on the Normandy coast, whereby they safely returned home. This successful operation has historically become known as The Bruneval Raid.

Throughout 1942 and 1943 various units were based at Thruxton including Boston and Blenheim aircraft, and a joint Army Cooperation Squadron was formed with nearby RAF Netheravon Aerodrome. Additional Whitleys were also based here to act as tugs for Horsa Gliders.

February 1944 saw the arrival of the P47s of the USAF 366th Fighter Group, who flew many missions over Belguim, France and Germany. Although the Americans were only here for around 5 months, they left a lasting impression on the local community, and until the late 1990s, we were very honoured to regularly welcome some of them back to Thruxton.

Briefing at Thruxton for the 366th
Club Dining room Circa 1950s
Promotional Picture 1967
Thruxton Christmas Menu 1943
The Jackaroo Conversion Programme
Wiltshire Flying School circa 1950

In 1947 Thruxton played host to The Wiltshire School of Flying; the first Civil operator to be based at Thruxton, who were originally founded and based at at High Post Aerodrome, which was located approximately 1.5 miles south-west of Boscombe Down. During their time here, Wiltshire School of Flying's directors and engineers saw a commercial potential by way of re-designing the Tiger Moth aircraft by affording pilots and their passengers a bit more comfort (and warmth). This was done by widening of the fuselage and adding a modern canopy. This design came to fruition and the birth of the Thruxton Jackaroo materialised, of which, a total of 19 were built here.

In 1967 The Aerodrome was taken over by Western Air Training Ltd, and its sister company British Racing Circuits. Training aircraft included new modern PA28's, Cessna 150's. Also included on the fleet was an Aero AE-45 (replaced later by a PA-23 Aztec) and a Cessna 172. The old perimeter track was resurfaced, and with the additional Chicanes and safety barriers added, opened for its first major race event in 1968. In 1998 the companies amalgamated to become Western Air (Thruxton) Ltd, who continued to manage The Aerodrome until May 2024, whereby Thruxton Circuit Ltd became the new proprietor. 

Jackaroo with thanks to Peter Fitzmaurice

Bruneval Raid Plaque


Control Tower,
Thruxton Airport,
SP11 8PW


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