Why does this airfield near York have the longest runway in England – but no aircraft?
It’s the sort of question the old BBC magazine show Tonight specialised in – and they despatched their top man to find out the answer.
He was Alan Whicker, the roving reporter later to become even more famous as the host of travel series Whicker’s World.
The film, first broadcast on 17 November 1961, is the latest archive Yorkshire footage to be released by the BBC under a three-month project.
In his Tonight investigation, Whicker discovers that a mere two planes have landed here in two years.
He talks to Airman First Class Jessie from the US airforce, who is one of four people stationed at the base, which boasts a fire rescue, a control tower, an NCO club and a bowling alley.
Jessie admits to sometimes being depressed due to his social isolation, although he mostly enjoyed his time there.
As RAF Elvington, it operated as a bomber base from the start of the Second World War. After the war, Elvington was taken over by the Americans who poured in hundreds of acres of concrete in their expensive upgrade.
“I believe it was completed primarily between 1955 in 1958,” says an unnamed man at the base in the report.
“American army engineers were in here and they took charge of it and then afterwards, for somewhat doubtful reasons, they just packed up and left.”
Why? “Well, they don’t know. Some people say that the aircraft became obsolete that were going to use this place. Some people said that the runway began to undulate. Some people say that they ran out of money to finish the base.
“The fantastic part about it is, they did spend $18 million dollars on the base, and then just packed it up.”