Its active phase commenced in 1917, and ceased in 1959 when RAF Fighter Command left the aerodrome. The airfield at Kenley now hosts 615 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS), a Royal Air Force gliding squadron of the Air Cadet Organisation.
During World War II RAF Kenley was one of the three main fighter stations, which was, together with Croydon and Biggin Hill, responsible for the air defence of London. It was during the crucial days of the Battle of Britain that all three RAF stations came into their own, fighting off the overwhelming might of the German Luftwaffe.
RAF Kenley suffered its worst damage in an attack on 18 August 1940. September 15 is considered by many to be the climax of the Battle of Britain, but 18 August is often cited as the costliest or hardest - the British lost 68 aircraft and the Germans lost 69. At Kenley, all ten hangars and twelve aircraft, including ten Hurricanes, were destroyed and the runways badly cratered. The Sector Operations Room had to be moved to an emergency location away from the airfield.