Located deep in the heart of the Kent countryside, and under half an hour's drive outside of Ashford, Headcorn Aerodrome is based near the village and civil parish of Headcorn. It's in close proximity to the M20 motorway, and has a history behind it that goes back over a century.
It was opened on land on Shenley Farm in 1911 by a family that had recently emigrated from Canada. Much to the disgruntlement of the locals, it was expanded to closely resemble the wide open prairies of their homeland.
In 1914, with the outbreak of World War I, it was earmarked and acquired by the Royal Flying Corps for use as a training school. The airfield was then handed back after the war, and reverted to being a working farm, until 1927, when the current owner's great great grandfather bought the farm at auction on the opening (and only bid) of £6000 (around £480k today)!
The youngest son of the man who bought it used it to fly his BE2 bi-wing First World War bomber plane, as he was a pilot. But in 1942, with the arrival of World War II, the farm was once again requisitioned, this time by the Airfields Board, who used rubble from the Blitz to fill in ponds which now form part of what is the runway today.
At this point, the RAF renamed it to RAF Lashenden, which was a deliberate tactic to confuse the enemy - because Lashenden is actually to the south west of the field where Headcorn now is. Over the course of the next three years, numerous squadrons from the Royal Canadian Air Force, the United States 9th Air Force and the (Pioneer Mustang) Fighter Group occupied the airfield, up until its closure with the end of World War II in June 1945.
After WWII, the late parents of the current owners recommenced flying from Headcorn once again in the 1950s, buying a second-hand wartime hangar from Newport Pagnell in 1963 that was taken down and rebuilt at the airfield. As the 1960s and 1970s came and went, aerobatic display teams and parachuting also took place here, and in 1972, Headcorn Flying School was opened.
Fast forward to the present day, and it's quite fitting that the main experiences that are available to book here are well connected with Headcorn's military heritage. Chiefly, a range of Vintage Flying sessions from 15 minutes to 60 minutes, taking flight in iconic biplanes such as the Tiger Moth and the Stampe.
Passenger flights in the legendary Spitfire are also available to book at Headcorn, giving you the chance to fly alongside a fully working and faithfully restored Spitfire in close formation in the clouds high above the world renowned "Garden of England".
And of course, for those looking to start their own aviation journey, there is a 30 Minute Flying Lessons available to book for as little as £99, which will see you learning the basics of flying a 2 seater light aircraft such as a Cessna or Piper. And best of all, the experience from this will also count as the first step towards obtaining your Private Pilot's Licence. So those seeking Flying Experiences in the South East of England - particularly vintage ones - would do well to discover Headcorn Aerodrome!