First opened as an aerodrome in World War I, RAF Yatesbury continued operations in the interwar years before again taking on a major role in World War II. From 1936 onwards RAF Yatesbury and RAF Compton Bassett were major Radio and Radar Training Schools, RAF Townsend a satellite landing ground and RAF Cherhill was part No 27 Group, in Headquarters Technical Training Command. It was the oldest airfield in the whole of Europe and is the only airfield in the world that is still is such good condition. In the village church there are reminders of its military past, with a small number of war graves from both major conflicts.
After closure, the Radar and Wireless training school transferred to RAF Locking. The aircraft hangars and airfield, although now farmland, can still be seen from the A4. The buildings, site and surrounding area were featured in the video to the 1988 No.1 hit song "Doctorin' the Tardis" by The Timelords. Planning has been granted to convert the air base into residential flats, however, due to the current economic climate work has stopped on the conversion until the economy has improved.