RAF Odiham is a Royal Air Force station situated a little to the south of Odiham. It is the home of the Royal Air Force’s heavy lift helicopter, the Chinook HC.2. To visit the RAF Odiham Website – click here.
History of RAF Odiham
Aircraft operations began from the site in 1925 but it was not until October 1937 that it was opened as a permanent airfield, ironically by the Chief of Staff for the Luftwaffe.
During World War Two P-51 Mustangs and Hawker Typhoons were flown by the base. After the Allied invasion of Europe the site became a prisoner of war camp. Following the end of the War RAF Fighter Command assumed control of the base and operated Spitfires, Hunters and Javelins. As part of Her coronation celebrations Queen Elizabeth II reviewed the Royal Air Force at Odiham in 1953.
After a short period in “care and maintenance” status the base was reopened as part of Transport Command. In this role the Westland Whirlwind and then the Westland Belvedere was operated from the base. From 1961 to 1981 the Westland Wessex was based here, joined by the Puma in 1971.
In 1981 the Wessex helicopters moved to RAF Benson, followed by No. 33 Squadron’s Puma’s in 1997.
The working population of the Station is about 2,000, of which around 100 are civilians.
Royal Air Force Odiham operates three Support Helicopter (SH) squadrons and one Army Air Corps (AAC) Lynx squadron. A conversion flight is incorporated in one of SH squadrons. The flying units are supported by Engineering & Supply Wing, which provides 2nd line aircraft & equipment support, and by Administration Wing, which manages the Station infrastructure. The Chinook Wing Headquarters is responsible for co-ordinating all aspects of operational and logistic output and also manages the airfield services.
Nos 7, 18 (B) & 27 Squadrons, equipped with the Chinook HC2, and No 657 Squadron (AAC) with its Lynx AH7s, operate in support of NATO throughout Western Europe , and UK interests worldwide, providing direct support to the Army. The squadrons also meet regular detachment requirements in Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands. No 18 (B) Squadron additionally operates a training flight to convert pilots and crewmen to fly the Chinook. The Joint Helicopter Support Unit is also based at RAF Odiham and deploys with the squadrons to provide specialist underslung load support and landing site management in the field.
In July 1968, Royal Air Force Odiham was granted the `Freedom of the Borough’ by the Borough of Basingstoke. This entitles personnel from RAF Odiham to march through the Borough with bands playing, drums beating, colours flying and bayonets fixed. In June 2000, the Odiham Parish Council awarded RAF Odiham ‘The Title of Dignity’ in recognition of the close ties between the two communities.