Cranfield is used extensively by fixed-wing and helicopter flight training organisations, of which there are many who operate out of the field. Additionally, general aviation, small business aircraft and private jets make use of the facilities. The airfield is 3 mi (4.8 km) from the M1 motorway and the city of Milton Keynes, making it the nearest to the town. Although the length of the runway means that Cranfield can handle some larger airliners, the rest of the immediate infrastructure is not geared up for passenger flights. It was built on 100 acres (0.40 km2) of farmland acquired by the Air Ministry in 1935 as Britain re-armed to face the growing threats on the continent. It was formally opened on 1 June 1937 and initially became the base for No. 62 Squadron RAF and No. 82 Squadron RAF of No. 1 (Bomber) Group, flying the already obsolescent Hawker Hind biplanes.
August 1941 saw the fast developing station become a night fighter training centre with the arrival of No. 51 Night fighter Operational Training Unit. This was disbanded after the end of the war in Europe in June 1945 and the airfield became the site for a new College of Aeronautics.
This college helped develop the highly successful Harrier Jump Jet.
The LAA (former PFA) ran some of their rally’s here during the 1980’s. The airfield has recently changed hands and offers a warm welcome to general and light aviation aircraft.
AVGAS and JET A1 as well as a restaurant and pilot area are available.