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Podington

Major

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The main runway of the airfield is alleged to have appeared as part of the introduction to legendary TV series 'The Prisoner.'

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Also known as: RAF Podington / Santa Pod Raceway / The Pod / USAAF Station 109
County: Bedfordshire
Current Status: Housing / Industry / Leisure activity
Date: August 1942 - 7 January 1947
Current Use: Disused
Used By: RAF / USAAF
Landing Surface Types: Paved

The land which became Podington was approved for requisition in July 1940 and construction work was needed long after it finally opened in August 1942. Various American units used it for short periods of time over the next year or so during which time the runways had to be lengthened significantly. Far more settled used came in September 1943 when the 92nd Bomb Group came from Alconbury. This element won a Distinguished Unit Citation while at Podington and had a quite eventful time at the base until the end of WW2. On 20 May 1944, for instance, two of its Boeing B-17s collided on the runway in poor visibility and left 21 people killed and badly damaged the runway. In early 1945 the group also operationally tested examples of the Disney bomb, an unusual weapon which had a rocket fitted in its tail to increase speed.

The 92nd BG moved to France in July 1945 and Podington passed quickly to RAF control; several Airfield Construction Squadrons stayed there until the airfield passed to War Office ownership in January 1947. Loose military control continued throughout the 1950s and it was home too to a Polish resettlement camp. There was limited civil light aircraft and gliding activity until the end of the 1960s but that decade proved more memorable for the emergence of what is today known as Santa Pod. Opened in 1966, it remains Europe's top dragster racing circuit.

Today the control tower is now a house and some other airfield buildings remain. Notably there is a piece of preserved wall art from the airfield featuring a B-17 at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford.  


The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/09/2011):

  • Colts Engineering
  • High Top Limousines
  • Iseki Microtunnelling
  • Knotting and Souldrop Parish Council
  • Marine & Industrial Glass Fibre
  • MSF Ltd
  • Odell Parish Council
  • Pams
  • Podington Parish Council
  • Rewardmedium Ltd
  • S C Motors
  • St Mary the Virgin Church, Podington
  • Specialist Materials Processing
  • Specialist Plant Associates

Main unit(s) present: 

  • 5th Photographic Reconnaissance Sqn
  • 8th Bomber Command Combat Crew Replacement Unit
  • 13th Photographic Reconnaissance Sqn
  • 15th BS (Light)
  • 28th TCS
  • 92nd BG
  • 100th BG
  • 352nd BS
  • 479th Anti-Submarine Group
  • Northamptonshire GC
  • RAFA GC
  • Tiger Moth Flying Group

Video and photographs from the Podington airfield marker unveiling on 26 May 2013:
Video taken by John Walker of the 92nd Bomb Group.


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geograph-3514624-by-Chris.jpg

Aerial view of Podington, 16 June 2013. © Chris and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-393067-by-Will-Lovell.jpg

A former taxiway looking north-west at Podington, 5 April 2007. © Will Lovell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-065862-by-Ian-Knox.jpg

Drag racing at Santa Pod Raceway, 30 May 2005. © Ian Knox and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-393064-by-Will-Lovell.jpg

A former taxiway looking east at Podington, 5 April 2007. © Will Lovell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-079207-by-Chris-Plunkett.jpg

The dragstrip at Santa Pod Raceway looking south-west, 12 September 2003. © Chris Plunkett and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

geograph-393096-by-Will-Lovell.jpg

The former control tower at Podington, now a house, 5 April 2007. © Will Lovell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The runway at Podington being constructed, including an Armstrong Whitworth Whitey taking off form the unfinished runway. Courtesy of TOPCAMERAMAN

Footage around the control tower, 1944. Courtesy of TOPCAMERAMAN

The 92nd Bombardment Group, USAAF, at Podington during the Second World War. Courtesy of TOPCAMERAMAN

American aircraft at Podington during the Second World War. Courtesy of TOPCAMERAMAN

Drag racing at Santa Pod, 1969. Courtesy of British Pathé

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