Continuing from our look at air displays in High Wycombe, we saw in last week’s edition that during one of his ‘Flying Circus’ events at the top of Marlow Hill Sir Alan Cobham remarked to the Bucks Free Press reporter that ‘’Every town of importance, such as High Wycombe, should be urged to find a flying field’’.

It was reported in April 1939 that a planning application had been made “to develop a large civil aerodrome on a site at Booker.

The aerodrome may be used for training the Civil Air Guard. The site is bounded by the Stokenchurch – Marlow road, Clay Lane and by the High Wycombe Borough boundary.”

Letters of complaint had been sent in by residents but it was pointed out that “its establishment would provide a considerable asset to High Wycombe, especially for commercial in the future” It was thought that the Borough authorities were not opposed to the scheme.

The company Wetton Aviation then purchased Barmoor Farm at Booker, with its extensive farmland.

This had been farmed by the Morris family, another branch of which operated Handy Cross Farm. Wetton Aviation had been established in July 1939 by two brothers William and Frank Wetton with capital of £25,000 to set up an aviation school, and to manufacture and deal in aircraft.

The company immediately set about demolishing the farm buildings and leveling the ground to form Booker Airfield.

However the War Department requisitioned the airfield in March 1941, although at this time it was still little more than a large grass field with few facilities.

The No.21 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS) was opened there in June 1941, operated by Airwork and flying Tiger Moths and Miles Magisters.

In May 1942 training started for the Glider Pilot Regiment, this continuing until the end of the war in 1945. In July 1943 alone, 5576 training hours were flown, of which 442 were at night.

Inevitably there were quite a few crashes, and some fatalities.

After the ending of WWII, Booker Airfield entered a new phase in its use.

Initiated by Davenport Vernon & Co Ltd, who were ‘most anxious to set up a charter and club flying business in the High Wycombe area’, the Air Ministry agreed to allow the airfield to be used for these activities. This venture became an immediate success.

On Saturday September 24 1948 Booker Airfield was host to an air display by the RAF to commemorate the Battle of Britain.

The Bucks Free Press, with somewhat of an understatement, reported the event under the headline ‘10,000 Surged to R.A.F. Display at Booker’.

The newspaper continued ‘’Long before the scheduled starting time large crowds formed a huge ‘crocodile’ at High Wycombe railway station entrance to wait for buses, while more impatient or more wealthy visitors queued for taxis.

Hundreds too went by car and something like 1,000 vehicles filled the car park at the airfield.

Held as it was in ideal weather the ‘At Home’ was an unqualified success.

Chief interest centred on a varied and spectacular flying programme, but for those with scientific or technical turns of mind there was much interest in a hangar showing a comprehensive range of aircraft components and equipment’’.

The principal guest of the day was the Secretary of State for Air Arthur Henderson, and in his speech he reminded the crowd that they were attending the event to commemorate the Battle of Britain.

He recalled that ‘’it was just eight years ago that the Luftwaffe found the RAF unmistakably at home and that the result of the encounter had been a decisive victory for the cause of freedom’’.

Among the highlights of the flying display were the high-speed aerobatics of three jet Vampires, and the dropping of three ‘sticks’ of parachutists from a balloon.

The BFP also reported that ‘To the delight of the youngsters there was a centre-turret gun which they were allowed to operate, and an automatic pilot demonstration unit which enabled them to sit at aeroplane controls and ‘fly’ a model plane in front of them.

The look of delighted concentration on their faces alone must have made the demonstration personnel feel that their efforts had been well worthwhile’’.

I myself have fond memories of this event which I attended with my parents.

At the time we were living in Cressex Road so were able to walk to the airfield, and did not have to get involved in the queues to catch a bus or park a car.

I would like to hear from other readers who can remember going to this event, or indeed any memories relating to Booker Airfield in the 1940 and 50s, email me at or telephone 01494 755070.