Cranfield Airfield - Cranfield University
In the early 1930s the Royal Air Force began to expand considerably. Cranfield was selected as a site for a new airfield - it opened in 1936. During World War II Cranfield was used for operational training with many RAF squadrons being based there before being dispatched to airfields nearer to the east or south coasts.
Cranfield 1946
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Towards the end of the Second World War it was decided that the country needed a dedicated aeronautical training establishment and this was set up as the College of Aeronautics in 1946. After the war Cranfield ceased to be an RAF station however there were still some RAF operations from the airfield - a communications flight operated from Cranfield together with certain other aircraft which were used for research purposes.
As the climate changed during the post war period, Cranfield began to diversify into other subjects such as management, automobile engineering and some of the older aeronautical departments expanded into wider fields like mechanical engineering.
Cranfield 1986
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Three aeronautical departments remained - originally the Aircraft Design Department, the Aerodynamics Department and the Flight Department which actually were responsible for flying; these departments finally combined together to form a new College of Aeronautics. In 1969 Cranfield was given a Royal Charter to award its own degrees, before that there had been diplomas, and the name was changed to Cranfield Institute of Technology. In the mid 1990s Cranfield changed its name again to Cranfield University and that is how it is known today.
Cranfield has grown and developed because it has provided a fairly large employment area. Today, Cranfield University's name is synonymous with the leading edge in aeronautics, engineering and bioscience. It is Western Europe's largest academic centre for strategic and applied research, development and design.
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Cranfield School of Management is one of Europe's leading business schools with a growing international reputation.

The proximity of Milton Keynes, which came along later, has had an influence on Cranfield because it is a convenient airfield for Milton Keynes. Cranfield has never been an airport as such although there has always been the possibility to fly international flights by arrangement. There have been a lot of training flights going on in the last 10-20 years and there is hope that more commercial flights will come on in the future.
In the late eighties/early nineties Cranfield sold part of its airfield land for a development centre. This meant closing one of the three runways. Some of the money obtained from the sale of the land was used to refurbish the main runway. Today Cranfield is establishing a Technology Park.
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The design is such that it will attract national and international companies that wish to develop their research and design facilities. Nissan European is the first occupant of the site.Cranfield has arranged its own flying displays from time to time but every year there is a Private Flying Association Rally (PFA Rally) when very large numbers of small aircraft fly in and the airfield is busy for 3-4 days.
Put your mouse over the image and prepare to take off! Then click on the plane for a 'flying visit' of Marston Vale's industry section or click the text.