In 1917 a site was purchased south of the village of Henlow to function as an Aircraft Repair Depot. It was the first station to be opened under the supervision of the Royal Air Force, which had been formed on the 1st April 1918.
In 1920 the site was expanded from 220 acres to 380 acres when more land was purchased to create a landing ground. In 1924 the Officers’ Engineering School moved in from Farnborough. This School was later renamed the RAF Technical College. One of the School’s most famous students was Frank Whittle, the inventor of the jet engine, who entered Henlow in August 1932 and passed out at the end of 1933. He then spent six months at Henlow in charge of Aero Engine tests before being sent to Cambridge.On the 1st October 1930 the airmen of Henlow pulled the R101 out of its hangar before its disastrous maiden voyage. A week later
800 of them lined the streets of Bedford for the funeral.
During the early war years the most regular aircraft to be seen flying out of Henlow was the Hawker Hurricane. By 1944 however the Hurricanes had
Henlow Hunter is produced bimonthly
been replaced by Mosquitos and Hawker Typhoons.
RAF Henlow was raised to Group status in June 1953, under an Air Commodore. In 1968 RAF Henlow was given the freedom of Bedford. Officer cadet training, which had been carried out at Henlow since 1952, ceased on 24th April 1980 and the station passed to the Radio Engineering Unit.
RAF has been a ground-training base specialising in electronics since the end of the Second World War and was for many years synonymous with the RAF Signals Engineering Establishment (RAFSEE). The Station is now home to the Directorate of Engineering Interoperability (DEI),
which is part of the Defence Communications Services Agency (DCSA) within the DLO. In addition it houses the Joint Arms Control and Inspection Group (JACIG), HQ Provost & Security Services (RAF), including the newly-formed Tactical Provost Wing, the RAF Centre for Aviation Medicine (CAM) and No 616 Volunteer Gliding School which operates Vigilant T1 motor gliders.