So say Historic England, but the flying history of Bicester predates its development as a bomber base: a Bristol Boxkite flew from the town as early as 1911. The first military occupiers of the airfield were the Royal Flying Corps in 1916, which became part of the newly formed Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918 when RAF Bicester, as it now was, became a Training Depot. In the three years from 1925, the airfield was transformed into a state-of-the-art Bomber Station.
In 1936 it expanded as the country prepared for war with Germany. As Britain went to war, RAF Bicester was home to such legendary flying machines as the Hawker Hart, Bristol Blenheim and the first flight of the Handley Page Halifax four-engined bomber, the Royal Air Force’s first heavy bomber to enter production.
By the time the Allies were ready to liberate Europe, training was well under way at RAF Bicester for glider pilots and their tug aircrews. Soldiers of the Glider Pilot Regiment trained at Bicester before setting off for D-Day, Arnhem and, eventually, the Rhine Crossing. As the battle moved towards Berlin, RAF Bicester was transforming to become a busy maintenance unit dealing with both aeroplanes and motor transport.
Now the former RAF Bicester has transformed again. Its War Department specification redbrick buildings have been restored and updated as the home of the UK’s first centre for historic motoring. Just in time to celebrate the centenary of powered military flight at Bicester’s airfield this year.