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On 11 January 1911, a military commission proposed to the War Ministry that it acquire land for use at Cuatro Vientos to set up a school for pilots. On 8 February the first troops arrived, installing themselves in tents; the chiefs and officers installed themselves in a temporary cabin. Two mobile or Bessonneau hangers arrived from France to house the first aircraft: two Henri Farman biplanes, with a 70 HP Gnome engine, and a Maurice Farman, also a biplane, with an 80 HP Renault engine. On 12 March, the first aeroplane from Ciudad Lineal landed at Cuatro Vientos.
In the winter of 1911, construction work began on different buildings in the aerodrome, concluding in March 1912 with the installation of another hangar, a barracks for the troops, a garage and a building for the guard corps. In 1914, construction started on the control tower, the oldest in Spain.
In 1918, construction began on the Aerodynamics Laboratory. The aerodynamic tunnel came into service in 1926 and was the most important of those in existence at the time. From 1920, the Mechanics School started operating at Cuatro Vientos and, as from 1925, the Classification School, which moved to Guadalajara in 1927. In 1928, the Advanced Aerotechnical School opened on adjoining land.
In February 1936, Cuatro Vientos was authorised as an alternative airport to Barajas and began to operate as a national airport for all purposes.
During the civil war, the aerodrome was used as a base for the fighter and bomber squadrons of the republican government. After the war was over, the Section of Studies and Experiences remained at Cuatro Vientos and was absorbed into the National Institute of Technical Aerospace (INTA) at the end of the 1940's. The Advanced Aerotechnical School became the Military Academy of Aeronautical Engineers and, years later, the Transmission School.
Loring, a private aerodrome, had been set up in 1929 to the east of and bordering Cuatro Vientos aerodrome. In November 1947, The Royal Flying Club of Spain, RACE, was established here and was given the facilities. In 1952, free use was granted of the airfield that bordered the military airfield to the west and which had a 600-metre runway, which was shared. In December 1951, the Air Ministry ceded RACE 97,000 square metres in ownership and, in March 1952, another 338,000 metres.
In May 1957, Cuatro Vientos airport was classified as category three. In March 1961, a new delimitation was established between the civil area (the paved runway and south area of the airdrome) and the military area (north zone of the paved runway). In September 1965, it officially became Madrid - Cuatro Vientos airport and, in 1967 it was classified as category two.
At the start of the 1970's, the airport had a 10-28 runway (1,200 metres long and 30 wide), a parallel taxiway and another parallel runway of compacted land, 1,650 metres by 75. In July 1971, Madrid - Cuatro Vientos was opened to domestic and international passenger traffic, under VFR flight conditions.
In December 1975, the runway was extended by 300 metres, taking it to 1,500 metres. Moreover, work began on the new control tower and small terminal building. The airfield is thus formed by a paved runway with a 10-28 orientation, 1,500 metres long and 30 wide. Besides, there is also a non-paved earth runway, which is for exclusive use and rights of the air base.