Aston Down
RAF Aston Down is a former Royal Air Force station near Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, South West England. It was used by the RAF from the First World War until 1967, since when it has been the home of the Cotswold Gliding Club. In 2002 the land and hangars surrounding the airfield were sold by the Ministry of Defence to private developers for use as industrial units.

History
Aston Down was first used as an airfield in the First World War, serving as a base for the Australian Flying Corps. Originally known as Minchinhampton Aerodrome, the airfield was renamed Aston Down in 1938 at the request of the residents of Minchinhampton village, which lies about one mile (1.5 km) to the west of the airfield, who feared not enemy attack, but a fall in the value of their houses. During the Second World War the hard runways and hangars were built. Until early 1941 Aston Down was host to the RAF's No. 55 OTU (Operational Training Unit), after which it was used as a ferry base. More recently the airfield was used as a satellite airfield for the Central Flying School at RAF Little Rissington, with trainee pilots practising their circuits in BAC Jet Provosts. Visits by the Red Arrows were also frequent until their departure from the nearby Kemble Airport in 1983. Since the sale of the airfield it no longer sees any RAF flying activity.

Gliding
In 1967 the Cotswold Gliding Club (CGC) moved to Aston Down, which in 1981 became surplus to requirements and was sold to the Club by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). Having since acquired further land, the CGC now owns most of the airfield within the perimeter track.

Industry and the environment
The land surrounding the airfield, including a number of large hangars (visible in the photograph above), continued to be used by the MOD until 2002, when it was sold to the development firm Leda Properties to be let as warehousing and industrial units. In 2005, following a Freedom of Information request, the local newspaper revealed that Aston Down is contaminated with arsenic, hydrocarbons and radium. Since the site is located above a vulnerable aquifer, local residents have formed a pressure group to persuade local government and central government agencies to implement more stringent safety regulations.