The final passing of RAF Tangmere in October 1970 was deeply felt by many. In its time Tangmere had been one of Britain’s best known and within the RAF, best-loved fighter stations. At the suggestion of local residents, Tangmere Parish Council erected a memorial stone on the village green at the end of the road leading to St Andrew’s Church, commemorating RAF Tangmere and serving to remind future generations about the role played by the aerodrome in the defence of the nation. The memorial was unveiled in December 1976 by the legless fighter ace, Group Captain Douglas Bader.
Although the erection of the memorial stone in the village was considered to be a commendable way to remember this important airfield, many felt that Tangmere deserved something more substantial and four years later, following a meeting of enthusiasts and people who had served at Tangmere, a working group was set up to find premises that would be a fitting tribute to the role played by RAF Tangmere in British history.
In 1981 the Parish Council donated the new museum two large SECO prefabricated huts which had been built in the late 1940s. The huts were in very poor condition, derelict, vandalised and covered in brambles. Work started on the buildings in late 1981 and an ambitious opening date target of June 1982 was set. Many thought this impossible but on 6 June 1982 the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum opened its doors to the public for the first time.
A temporary exhibition will be held at the Museum from 3 September until the end of November to mark the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Museum. It will cover the notable events during the first twenty years after opening and the last two decades during which it has become one of the best aviation museums in the country, run since its opening in June 1982 entirely by volunteers.