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Chilbolton Observatory is on the site of one of Hampshire’s finest abandoned airfields. A World War II fighter airfield, an assembly point for Operation Market Garden, and a testing area for jet aircraft. A film set for an aviation classic, a centre for atmospheric research and the site of a notorious crop circle formation.
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During World War II Chilbolton was home to squadrons of Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs, Typhoons, and Vampires.
The airfield opened in 1940 as a satellite airfield for RAF Middle Wallop and it was used by the RAF and USAAF.
After the war it was used for flight tests before being closed in 1961. Today it is the site of Chilbolton Observatory, a facility that carries out atmospheric and radio research.
You can clearly see that the car park of today was once part of the main runway.
The airfield was an operational base for a squadron of Hurricanes during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. In 1944 CG-4As gliders and C-47 transports gathered there in preparation for operation Market Garden.
Today, crop marks in the fields reveal the locations of two of its three runways while in this image the runways, dispersal points, and perimeter track can clearly be seen.
In 1941, with the Battle of Britain won the previous year, the airfield was designated a Care and Maintenance facility.
1944 saw the arrival of the USAAF in the form of Spitfires and Mustangs from the Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons of the 67th Reconnaissance Wing.
Between 1945 and 1946 it was back in the hands of the RAF. The airfield saw the arrival of several more squadrons of Hawker Tempests (a derivative of the Hawker Typhoon), Spitfires, and Mustangs.
For example, 247 Squadron’s Tempests F2 and Typhoon 1b’s arrived on 20th August 1945, and departed on 7th January 1946. A few month’s later the squadron’s first de Havilland Vampire jets arrived.
When the RAF vacated in 1946 it was taken over by the Vickers Supermarine company and became the location for tests of their new aircraft which included the Supermarine Attacker, Supermarine Swift and Supermarine Scimitar.
The Folland aviation company also used it as a test area for the Folland Gnat and Folland Midge aircraft.
The airfield was also used for location shots for the 1952 David Lean film The Sound Barrier.
By 1961 all major flying operations had ceased and the site was transformed into a location for atmospheric and radio research. Civilian flying continues at the Chilbolton Flying Club grass strip nearby.
The Chilbolton Observatory radio telescope is a prominent local landmark and it is still used as such by passing aircraft as it is on the edge of the Middle Wallop MATZ (Military Air Traffic Zone).
There is one other reason why this location is well known. In August 2001 two crop circle formations appeared in the fields close to the radio telescope. Unlike many other crop circles before or since these two seemed to convey a message that was more easily deciphered.
One formation was a clear depiction of a human face. A few days later another formation appeared and this one resembled a strip of data.
The second formation was of flattened and standing wheat which created a graphic that was remarkably similar to the radio transmission that had been sent from the Arecibo radio telescope by SETI project team (the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) in 1974.
Continued in the video…
#Chilbolton #Arecibo #airfield #Supermarine #Folland #Cropcircles
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