RAF Church Fenton
Air Displays

Air Displays

For a large part of its’ existence, RAF Church Fenton has been the home to an annual air display. Originally, this was called “Empire Air Day” (I have spoken to older residents of Church Fenton who still call it that). Following on from this, it became the annual “Battle of Britain” display that virtually all RAF stations held in September. In later years, the air display was held in aid of the Soldier’s Sailor’s and Airmen’s Families Association, and became known as the “SSAFA International Air Display”. This was a very successful event, and ran for many years, until the last one was held on Sunday July 17th 1994. During its’ life, the display attracted massive crowds, the largest being 63,000 in 1968. On the day of the display, special trains were run from Leeds, York etc to Church Fenton.

One of the reasons the air display ended was because of the large cost to the RAF. As the display was in aid of the SSAFA, the RAF made little, if any profit from the entrance fees, so it cost them a lot to run. Apart from this, there were the logistics costs with staging an air show at what was [at the time] a non operational RAF station.

It was announced in July 2015 that air displays would make a very welcome return to Church Fenton, starting on 26th September 2015 with the launch of the Great Yorkshire Airshow.

The links below contain the flying programmes of many of the air displays for reference.

Ian Smart very kindly donated the 1951 programme from the collection of his late father, Norman Smart. A complete scan of the document can be seen on the 1951 page.

Geoff Carter has very kindly sent me PDF scans of all years from 1963 – 1994; links to these can be found on each of the individual pages. These are all from the Allen Rowley collection. Allen was the commentator for most of the air displays at Church Fenton; more information on Allen and his career can be found on the page dedicated to him (see navigation bar). 

Nigel Watson gave me the data for 1983, 1986, 1987 and 1988.

Patricia Laws-Farris gave me the programme for 1956/57, thank you very much!

Roger Carvell scanned the 1972 programme for me, so the 1972 data is courtesy of him.

Dave Butler gave me information and/or programme scans for 1972, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1985, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1994.

Mick Law sent me programme scans of 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990.

Brian Davidson gave me some notes on the 1955 Battle of Britain display, as well as the programmes for the 1957, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1971, 1974 and 1975 displays. Many thanks!