Cranfield Festival of Flight

Staff and students at Cranfield University have unearthed some amazing facts and footage while researching a heritage exhibition to mark 70 years since its formation as the College of Aeronautics in 1946.

One piece of film shows Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, visiting Cranfield when he was awarded an honorary degree in 1996.

Armstrong comments, “I’ve known of Cranfield for almost its entire existence.  I was delighted to meet old friends and see what’s going on here.”

Charles Cleverdon, who was born on the Cranfield campus and is the son of the College of Aeronautics’ first librarian, Cyril Cleverdon, remembers roaming around as a child and climbing over a RAF Lancaster Bomber which was housed on campus after the second world war.

He reminisced: “There was always a strong sense of community at Cranfield and Christmas time was particularly special. Rather than cooking separate dinners, lots of families would come together for one big meal prepared by a resident chef.”

Ralph Hooper, who was in the first ever group of students to attend Cranfield in 1946, was also interviewed as part of the University’s anniversary celebrations.

Mr Hooper is now 90 years old and recalls, “Cranfield widened your vision of the world and aeronautics in particular. There was always someone who knew more than you did about any particular topic, either among the students or the staff.”

The heritage exhibition will be on show on the morning of Saturday 17th September at an “Open Doors” event, as part of the Festival of Flight being held at the University.

In the afternoon, an air display featuring aeroplanes connected to Cranfield’s heritage will include a Bristol Blenheim Mk (Mk. IV T), which flew out of RAF Cranfield during the Second World War. It is the only one still flying in the country today.

Tickets for the Festival of Flight air display are available at:

Cranfield is an exclusively postgraduate university, specialising in technology and management.