Heston Aerodrome
Overview
 
Heston Aerodrome was a 1930s airfield located to the west of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, UK, operational between 1929 and 1947. It was situated on the border of the Heston
Heston
Heston is a place in the London Borough of Hounslow, west London. It is a suburban development area, based on a former farming village west south-west of Charing Cross.-History:...

 and Cranford
Cranford, London
Cranford is a place in the London Borough of Hounslow. It is a suburban development located 12.4 miles west of Charing Cross and on the eastern perimeter of London Heathrow Airport....

 areas of Hounslow
Hounslow
Hounslow is the principal town in the London Borough of Hounslow. It is a suburban development situated 10.6 miles west south-west of Charing Cross. It forms a post town in the TW postcode area.-Etymology:...

, Middlesex. In September 1938, the British Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

, Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

, flew from Heston to Germany three times in two weeks for talks with Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, and returned to Heston from the Munich Conference with the paper referred to in his later "Peace for our time" speech from 10 Downing Street.
Heston Air Park was conceived by fellow pilots and aircraft co-owners Nigel Norman
Nigel Norman
Air Commodore Sir Henry Nigel St Valery Norman Bt, CBE, RAF was a consulting civil engineer and Royal Air Force officer during the first half of the 20th century.-Early years:...

 and Alan Muntz in 1928, and it was constructed by their new company, Airwork Ltd
Airwork Services
During the post-war period Airwork also further expanded its business into civil aviation. This expansion was financed by its wealthy shareholders, including Lord Cowdray, Whitehall Securities, the Blue Star shipping line, Furness Withy and Thomas Loel Evelyn Bulkeley Guinness.Airwork's other air...

.
Encyclopedia
Heston Aerodrome was a 1930s airfield located to the west of London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, UK, operational between 1929 and 1947. It was situated on the border of the Heston
Heston
Heston is a place in the London Borough of Hounslow, west London. It is a suburban development area, based on a former farming village west south-west of Charing Cross.-History:...

 and Cranford
Cranford, London
Cranford is a place in the London Borough of Hounslow. It is a suburban development located 12.4 miles west of Charing Cross and on the eastern perimeter of London Heathrow Airport....

 areas of Hounslow
Hounslow
Hounslow is the principal town in the London Borough of Hounslow. It is a suburban development situated 10.6 miles west south-west of Charing Cross. It forms a post town in the TW postcode area.-Etymology:...

, Middlesex. In September 1938, the British Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

, Neville Chamberlain
Neville Chamberlain
Arthur Neville Chamberlain FRS was a British Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940. Chamberlain is best known for his appeasement foreign policy, and in particular for his signing of the Munich Agreement in 1938, conceding the...

, flew from Heston to Germany three times in two weeks for talks with Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

, and returned to Heston from the Munich Conference with the paper referred to in his later "Peace for our time" speech from 10 Downing Street.

Private flying

Heston Air Park was conceived by fellow pilots and aircraft co-owners Nigel Norman
Nigel Norman
Air Commodore Sir Henry Nigel St Valery Norman Bt, CBE, RAF was a consulting civil engineer and Royal Air Force officer during the first half of the 20th century.-Early years:...

 and Alan Muntz in 1928, and it was constructed by their new company, Airwork Ltd
Airwork Services
During the post-war period Airwork also further expanded its business into civil aviation. This expansion was financed by its wealthy shareholders, including Lord Cowdray, Whitehall Securities, the Blue Star shipping line, Furness Withy and Thomas Loel Evelyn Bulkeley Guinness.Airwork's other air...

. It was officially opened on 5 July 1929, to coincide with hosting the two day King's Cup air race
King's Cup Race
The King's Cup Race is an annual British handicapped cross-country air race, first contested on 8 September 1922. The event was open to British pilots only, but that did include members of the Commonwealth....

. By then, the Airwork Flying School had become well established, many privately-owned aircraft had moved in, and the Household Brigade Flying Club, also known as the Guards flying club, had moved from Brooklands
Brooklands
Brooklands was a motor racing circuit and aerodrome built near Weybridge in Surrey, England. It opened in 1907, and was the world's first purpose-built motorsport venue, as well as one of Britain's first airfields...

. Frequent public events helped promote Heston as a major centre of private flying, air displays, public demonstrations of new aircraft types, 'garden parties', air races, and as the starting point for long-distance flight record attempts. The King's Cup race was again staged at Heston in 1931. From the start, the first UK use of a concrete hangar and concrete aprons had already been established. Additional hangars and facilities, and expansion of the airfield, continued through the 1930s.

Commercial operations

In September 1931, Heston Air Park was renamed Heston Airport, following provision of customs facilities and ongoing improvements for passenger handling. Night flying facilities were installed and further developed, and in 1932 it was designated as a commercial diversionary airport, often required when Croydon Airport
Croydon Airport
Croydon Airport was an airport in South London which straddled the boundary between what are now the London boroughs of Croydon and Sutton. It was the main airport for London before it was replaced by Northolt Aerodrome, London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport...

 was fog-bound.
It is claimed that the central building was the first purpose-built airport control tower, on which all modern control towers are based.

In April 1933, Spartan Air Lines started a twice-daily service to Cowes
Cowes
Cowes is an English seaport town and civil parish on the Isle of Wight. Cowes is located on the west bank of the estuary of the River Medina facing the smaller town of East Cowes on the east Bank...

 in the Isle of Wight
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 2–4 miles off the south coast of the county of Hampshire, separated from the mainland by a strait called the Solent...

. During 1934, the service operated from Croydon Airport, but reverted to Heston for the 1935 season, in collaboration with Railway Air Services
Railway Air Services
Railway Air Services was a British airline formed in March 1934 by four railway companies and Imperial Airways. The airline was a domestic airline operating routes within the United Kingdom linking up with Imperial's services....

. On 28 January 1934, Jersey Airways
Jersey Airways
Jersey Airways was an airline that operated air services to and from the Channel Islands from 1933 until 1947, when it became part of British European Airways.-History:...

 started a daily service to Jersey, landing on St. Aubin's beach at West Park, St Helier. In May 1934, the Portsmouth, Southsea, and Isle of Wight Company (PS&IOW) started a service from Heston to the Isle of Wight. In May 1934, the British Air Navigation Company (BANCO) started operating scheduled services to Le Touquet, Dieppe
Dieppe, Seine-Maritime
Dieppe is a commune in the Seine-Maritime department in France. In 1999, the population of the whole Dieppe urban area was 81,419.A port on the English Channel, famous for its scallops, and with a regular ferry service from the Gare Maritime to Newhaven in England, Dieppe also has a popular pebbled...

, Pourville, and Deauville
Deauville
Deauville is a commune in the Calvados département in the Basse-Normandie region in northwestern France.With its racecourse, harbour, international film festival, marinas, conference centre, villas, Grand Casino and sumptuous hotels, Deauville is regarded as the "queen of the Norman beaches" and...

, having previously operated cross-Channel charters. Other resident charter or aircraft hire companies included Air Commerce Ltd, Anglo-American Air Services, Birkett Air Services Ltd, Wrightson Air Hire (renamed 1934 as Air Hire Ltd). In 1934 and 1935, United Airways Ltd operated services from Heston to Stanley Park Aerodrome (Blackpool)
Stanley Park Aerodrome (Blackpool)
Stanley Park Aerodrome was an airfield located in the Stanley Park area of Blackpool, Lancashire England which was in use for civil and military flying from 1929 until closure of the airfield in 1947...


In 1936, British Airways Ltd, formed by mergers of Spartan Air Lines, United Airways Ltd and Hillman's Airways
Hillman's Airways
Hillman's Airways was a 1930s British airline that later became part of British Airways.The company was formed in November 1931 as Hillman's Saloon Coaches and Airways Limited by Edward Henry Hillman who was a coach operator in Essex. His previous business had been sold to London Transport...

, started scheduled services at Heston, then moved to Gatwick Airport, then to Croydon Airport, before returning to Heston in May 1938, remaining until April 1940.

Resident aircraft manufacturers

Manufacturers at Heston included Comper Aircraft Company
Comper Aircraft Company
The Comper Aircraft Company Ltd was a 1930s British light aircraft manufacturer. It was based at Hooton Aerodrome, Cheshire , and Heston Aerodrome, Middlesex .-History:...

 (1933–1934), Chrislea Aircraft
Chrislea Aircraft
Chrislea Aircraft Limited was a British aircraft manufacturer, formed in 1936 and closed in 1952.-History:The company was formed on 2 October 1936 at Heston Aerodrome near London, England, to build the designs of Richard Christoforides. The company name was derived from the partners Christoforides...

 (1936–1947), Heston Aircraft Company
Heston Aircraft Company
Heston Aircraft Company was a British aircraft manufacturer based at Heston Aerodrome, Middlesex, England.Starting in 1934 the company produced a number of aircraft designs beginning with the Heston Phoenix and the Hordern-Richmond Autoplane. During the Second World War the company transitioned to...

 (1934–1948), Fairey Aviation Company (1945–1947). Lesser use of the airfield was by Carden-Baynes Aircraft, Navarro Safety Aircraft. First flights took place of the first UK-built Mignet HM.14
Mignet HM.14
The Mignet HM.14 Flying Flea is a single-seat light aircraft first flown in 1933, designed for amateur construction. It was the first of a family of aircraft collectively known as Flying Fleas....

 "Flying Flea", Watkinson Dingbat, Luton Minor
Luton Minor
-References:* Smith, R. 2002. British Built Aircraft Vol.1 Greater London. Tempus. ISBN 0752427709-External links:* -See also:...

, Helmy Aerogypt
Helmy Aerogypt
-References:*Smith, Ron. 2002. British Built Aircraft Vol.I Greater London. Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0752427709...

, Hafner AR.III gyroplane and the Fane F.1/40
Fane F.1/40
-External links:***...

.

Flight record attempts

On 25 September 1930, The Hon Mrs Victor Bruce took off in her Blackburn Bluebird IV
Blackburn Bluebird IV
|-See also:-External links:**...

 (G-ABDS, named Bluebird) on a round the world solo flight. On 24 November, having covered 10,330 miles in 25 flying days, she reached Tokyo
Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

. She travelled by ship to Vancouver
Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

, where the Bluebird was re-assembled. She flew via Medford, Oregon
Medford, Oregon
Medford is a city in Jackson County, Oregon, United States. As of the 2010 US Census, the city had a total population of 74,907 and a metropolitan area population of 207,010, making the Medford MSA the 4th largest metro area in Oregon...

, Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
Tucson is a city in and the county seat of Pima County, Arizona, United States. The city is located 118 miles southeast of Phoenix and 60 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border. The 2010 United States Census puts the city's population at 520,116 with a metropolitan area population at 1,020,200...

, San Diego and Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 to New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, where she embarked on a ship bound for Le Havre
Le Havre
Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France. It is situated in north-western France, on the right bank of the mouth of the river Seine on the English Channel. Le Havre is the most populous commune in the Haute-Normandie region, although the total...

. On 19 February 1931, she flew to Lympne Airport
Lympne Airport
Lympne Airport , , was a military and later civil airfield at Lympne, Kent, United Kingdom, which operated from 1916 to 1984. RFC Lympne was originally an acceptance point for aircraft being delivered to, and returning from, France during the First World War...

, having flown about 19,000 miles and set several world records. The next day, she was given an aerial escort to Croydon Airport, where a reception of press and celebrities awaited her. She later flew back to Heston, and greeted there by Nigel Norman.

On 9 August 1934, the first flight from inland Canada (Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Wasaga Beach is a town in Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada. It is a popular four-season tourist destination situated on Nottawasaga Bay at the southern end of Georgian Bay approximately two hours north of Toronto, and abuts, to the west, the town of Collingwood...

) to the UK, a distance of 3,700 miles, landed at Heston after a flying time of 30 hours 55 minutes. The pilots, J.R.Ayling and L.G.Reid, in a DH.84 Dragon
De Havilland Dragon
|-See also:-References:Bibliography ISBN 0-85177-813-5...

 (G-ACJM) named "Trail of the Caribou", were attempting to beat the then long distance flying record (5,657 miles) by flying 6,300 miles from Wasaga Beach to Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

. However, icing of the engine throttle controls increased fuel consumption and, together with bad weather, resulted in the flight being terminated early.

Expansion plans

During the late 1930s, the British government had been studying the future of air transport and airports in the London area. It had been decided that London would be served by four airports - Croydon, Heston, and new airfields at Fairlop
Fairlop
Fairlop is a district of Ilford in the London Borough of Redbridge, just north of Barkingside. It mainly consists of fields, forestry and open land providing space for sport/ activity centres , a few houses, farmland and watersport/ fishing lakes . It also has a tube station....

 in Essex
Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

 and Lullingstone
Lullingstone
Lullingstone is a village in the county of Kent, England. It is best known for its castle, Roman villa and its public golf course.- Pre-Roman :It is believed that an Iron Age hill fort is sited on the hill above the castle, although this is unconfirmed....

, Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

. To this end, improvements and extensions had already begun at Heston, with the intention of bringing it up to the most modern standards of airports elsewhere in Europe. New drainage was put in, and trees near the flight path were removed. Runway lighting and radio aids to landing were installed. Land and buildings around the site were bought up for expansion, including St Mary's Boys Orphanage in North Hyde that was demolished. In 1937, the airport was bought by the Air Ministry
Air Ministry
The Air Ministry was a department of the British Government with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the Royal Air Force, that existed from 1918 to 1964...

, and developed to become almost as large as Croydon Airport
Croydon Airport
Croydon Airport was an airport in South London which straddled the boundary between what are now the London boroughs of Croydon and Sutton. It was the main airport for London before it was replaced by Northolt Aerodrome, London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport...

, making it London's second airport at that time. Imperial Airways
Imperial Airways
Imperial Airways was the early British commercial long range air transport company, operating from 1924 to 1939 and serving parts of Europe but especially the Empire routes to South Africa, India and the Far East...

 served the British Empire from Croydon, and British Airways served European destinations from Heston. The area of the landing field was then 3,540 feet by 2,700 feet.

The Air Ministry (Heston and Kenley Aerodromes Extension) Act 1939 authorised the compulsory purchase of land, and road closures needed for further expansion. The plans did not meet with universal approval, especially from the Heston Aircraft Company
Heston Aircraft Company
Heston Aircraft Company was a British aircraft manufacturer based at Heston Aerodrome, Middlesex, England.Starting in 1934 the company produced a number of aircraft designs beginning with the Heston Phoenix and the Hordern-Richmond Autoplane. During the Second World War the company transitioned to...

, whose production facility on the site was planned to be demolished in December 1939.

"Peace for our time" 1938

On 15 September 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain flew from Heston to München (Munich) for the first of several meetings with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler. Lockheed 10 Electra
Lockheed Model 10 Electra
The Lockheed Model 10 Electra was a twin-engine, all-metal monoplane airliner developed by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in the 1930s to compete with the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2...

 G-AEPR of British Airways Ltd was used on that first occasion, followed on 22 September 1938 by Lockheed 14 G-AFGN on a flight to Bad Godesberg
Bad Godesberg
Bad Godesberg is a municipal district of Bonn, southern North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. From 1949 till 1990 , the majority of foreign embassies to Germany were located in Bad Godesberg...

. G-AFGN was also used on the final trip to Munich on 29 September 1938, that resulted in the Munich Agreement
Munich Agreement
The Munich Pact was an agreement permitting the Nazi German annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland. The Sudetenland were areas along Czech borders, mainly inhabited by ethnic Germans. The agreement was negotiated at a conference held in Munich, Germany, among the major powers of Europe without...

, Chamberlain's widely-publicised return at Heston on 30 September 1938, and his subsequent "Peace for our time" speech. C.N. Pelly was the principal pilot on these flights.

Airline operations 1939-1940

The Air Ministry had intended to completely take over the Heston site from Airwork Ltd in September 1939 for civil airline operations, but the declaration of war intervened, and the plans were never implemented. By 1 September 1939, the aircraft and administrations of British Airways Ltd (BAL) and Imperial Airways were physically transferred to Bristol (Whitchurch) Airport
Bristol (Whitchurch) Airport
Bristol Airport, also known as Whitchurch Airport, was a municipal airport in Bristol, England, three miles south of the city centre, from 1930 to 1957. It was the main airport for Bristol and area...

, to be operated jointly by National Air Communications
National Air Communications
National Air Communications was a British government organisation that directed civilian flying operations from the outbreak of World War II until April 1940.-Pre-war preparations:...

 (NAC). Services to Paris - Le Bourget Airport, Stockholm
Stockholm
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden and constitutes the most populated urban area in Scandinavia. Stockholm is the most populous city in Sweden, with a population of 851,155 in the municipality , 1.37 million in the urban area , and around 2.1 million in the metropolitan area...

, and other overseas destinations continued, using types including DH.86, Lockheed 14, DH.91 Albatross
De Havilland Albatross
|-See also:...

, AW.27 Ensign
Armstrong Whitworth Ensign
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Bridgman, Leonard. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. New York: Crescent Books, 1988. ISBN 0-517-67964-7.-External links:* *...

. From October 1939, airlines of neutral countries (such as Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

, Denmark
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

, Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

) were only permitted to fly to coastal civilian airfields such as Shoreham Airport
Shoreham Airport
- Sussex Police Air Operations Unit :The Sussex Police Air Operations Unit is headquartered at Shoreham Airport. The unit has been equipped since February 2000 with a MD Explorer, registered as "G-SUSX". The unit is headed by a Police Inspector, assisted by a Police Sergeant and two Police...

, but Air France
Air France
Air France , stylised as AIRFRANCE, is the French flag carrier headquartered in Tremblay-en-France, , and is one of the world's largest airlines. It is a subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group and a founding member of the SkyTeam global airline alliance...

 was allowed to operate Dewoitine D.338s between Paris and Heston. On 1 April 1940, British Airways Ltd and Imperial Airways were officially merged as a new company, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC
Boac
Boac may refer to:* Boac, Marinduque, a municipality in the Southern Philippines* Boac , an American rapper* British Overseas Airways Corporation, a former British state-owned airline...

).

After the surrender of the Netherlands on 14 May 1940, several KLM aircraft evaded capture, and converged on the UK. On 4 June 1940, BOAC started a Heston to Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 service, using DH.91 Albatrosses, to connect with transatlantic services of Pan American World Airways
Pan American World Airways
Pan American World Airways, commonly known as Pan Am, was the principal and largest international air carrier in the United States from 1927 until its collapse on December 4, 1991...

 (Pan Am) that used Boeing 314
Boeing 314
The Boeing 314 Clipper was a long-range flying boat produced by the Boeing Airplane Company between 1938 and 1941 and is comparable to the British Short S.26. One of the largest aircraft of the time, it used the massive wing of Boeing’s earlier XB-15 bomber prototype to achieve the range necessary...

 flying boats. Following the fall of France (22 June 1940), on 26 June 1940 the BOAC Lisbon service was switched to the DC-3s chartered from KLM with Dutch crews; by August 1940, five DC-3s were registered in Britain to a KLM subsidiary, nominally based at Heston. In late August 1940, all BOAC aircraft still based at Heston were transferred to Whitchurch, including the KLM DC-3s. For the Lisbon service, a DC-3 would fly to Heston to pick up passengers, then return to Whitchurch for onward travel to Lisbon. On 21 September 1940, DC-3 G-AGBC crashed in fog on landing at Heston during such a flight. Meanwhile, on 19 September 1940, a German parachute mine demolished the 'Dawbarn' hangar, formerly occupied by BAL in 1939, and previously by Airwork. No further airline operations took place at Heston.

Military operations 1939-1945

On 22 September 1939, a clandestine photographic unit, the 'Heston Flight' was absorbed into the RAF, and its civilian head Sidney Cotton
Sidney Cotton
Frederick Sidney Cotton OBE was an Australian inventor, photographer and aviation and photography pioneer, responsible for developing and promoting an early colour film process, and largely responsible for the development of photographic reconnaissance before and during the Second World War...

 was enlisted with the rank of Squadron Commander. On 1 November 1939, it was renamed No. 2 Camouflage Unit, then to No. 1 Photographic Development Unit on 17 January 1940. On 18 June 1940, it was renamed No. 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit under the command of Wing Commander G.W. Tuttle. After the parachute mine incident on 19 September 1940 had damaged several of its aircraft, No. 1 PRU was transferred to RAF Benson
RAF Benson
RAF Benson is a Royal Air Force station near Benson in South Oxfordshire, England. It is home to the Royal Air Force's support helicopters, the Aérospatiale Puma and the EH-101 Merlin, known as the Puma HC.Mk 1 and the Merlin HC.Mk 3 and Mk 3a....

 on 27 December 1940. On 12 May 1941, No. 1422 Flight RAF
No. 1422 Flight RAF
No. 1422 Flight was an independent Royal Air Force flight, used to test night fighting techniques and tactics.-History:The unit started originally as No. 422 Flight, formed on 14 October 1940 at RAF Shoreham to study the use of single-seat night fighters That unit went up into No...

 was formed under the command of Wing Commander A.E. Clouston, flying a wide variety of aircraft for interception trials, including Turbinlite
Turbinlite
The Helmore/GEC Turbinlite was a 2,700 million candela searchlight fitted in the nose of a number of British Douglas Havoc night fighters during the early part of the Second World War and around the time of The Blitz....

 versions of the Douglas Havoc and de Havilland Mosquito
De Havilland Mosquito
The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft that served during the Second World War and the postwar era. It was known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews and was also nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder"...

. After disbandment in 1944, this unit became the Special Projectile Flight of the Royal Aircraft Establishment
Royal Aircraft Establishment
The Royal Aircraft Establishment , was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence , before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.The first site was at Farnborough...

, remaining at Heston. Throughout the war, units temporarily based at Heston included RAF Polish fighter squadrons 302, 303, 306, 308, 315, 316, 317, using mostly Spitfire V
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

s and Hurricane
Hawker Hurricane
The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force...

s. Other units included 515 Sqn
No. 515 Squadron RAF
No. 515 Squadron RAF was a squadron of the Royal Air Force formed during the Second World War. It stood at the brink of Electronic countermeasures warfare, jamming enemy radar installations from October 1942. This was first done as only such squadron in the RAF, but later in the war together with...

, 129 Sqn
No. 129 Squadron RAF
- World War I :Like a number of Squadrons, No. 129 was initially formed during the later months of the first world war but never became operational before the Armistice. It was to be a day bomber unit based at RAF Duxford.- World War II :No...

, 116 Sqn
No. 116 Squadron RAF
No. 116 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, was formed on 1 December 1917 at Andover and was intended to become a night bomber unit but the end of the war resulted in the Squadron's disbandment on 20 November 1918....

, 53 OTU, 61 OTU, 85 Group Comms, AEAFCS. Transient USAAF units included 2008th Army AF Headquarters Sqn, 27th Air Transport Group, 86th Air Transport Sqn, 325th Ferrying Sqn, 112th Liaison Sqn.

Post–Second World War

After the war, the 1939 plans for four London airports were scrapped. Heathrow had by then been chosen as the main London Airport, and its proximity would have made regular flying from Heston aerodrome impossible.

Since official closure in 1947, several aircraft movements have occurred. On 9 June 1951, a BOAC (staff) Sports Festival was held, and aircraft that landed at the site included a Miles M.14A Hawk Trainer
Miles Hawk Trainer
-See also:-References:* Amos, Peter. and Brown, Don Lambert. Miles Aircraft Since 1925, Volume 1. London: Putnam Aeronautical, 2000. ISBN 0-85177-787-0....

, de Havilland DH.82A Tiger Moth, Auster J/1B Aiglet, de Havilland DH.104 Dove, de Havilland DH.84 Dragon and perhaps two others. Parts of the airport land were still owned by the British government in 1962, when the M4 motorway
M4 motorway
The M4 motorway links London with South Wales. It is part of the unsigned European route E30. Other major places directly accessible from M4 junctions are Reading, Swindon, Bristol, Newport, Cardiff and Swansea...

 construction was started. Additional land was needed for a motorway service area (Heston Services
Heston services
Heston services is a motorway service station on the M4 motorway in the London Borough of Hounslow, built on land that once formed part of the now defunct Heston Aerodrome. It is owned by MotoIt was featured briefly in the 2007 film Hot Fuzz.-Facilities:...

), that was built in 1965 over the northern half of the 1940s aerodrome site. The terminal buildings continued to be used by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) until June 1978, and those buildings were demolished later that year. The last confirmed aircraft movement was a 'farewell' flight for CAA staff by Bell 206B JetRanger
Bell 206
The Bell 206 is a family of two-bladed, single- or twin-engine helicopters, manufactured by Bell Helicopter at its Mirabel, Quebec plant. Originally developed as the Bell YOH-4 for the United States Army's Light Observation Helicopter program, the 206 failed to be selected...

 helicopter (G-BCWN) on 6 June 1978.

Woodason Aircraft Models

Heston Aerodrome was the site of Woodason Aircraft Models during the 1930s and after the Second World War. The company was founded by Victor Woodason (1904–1964), who created detailed aircraft models, for the aviation industry, airlines, movies, the Air Ministry and other government agencies, merchandisers, advertising, aircraft owners and collectors. Woodason was forced to vacate the airport in 1939, and his workshop then operated from a farmhouse, Grange Farm, on the eastern boundary of Heston aerodrome.

Today

In 2011, some of what used to be Heston Aerodrome is now used for housing and industrial estates, and the M4 motorway with its large service areas cuts across the aerodrome east-west, but a substantial area to the north of the M4 is host to the Airlinks 18-hole golf course. Many of the roads in the area have aviation-related names, such as Brabazon
Bristol Brabazon
The Bristol Type 167 Brabazon was a large propeller-driven airliner, designed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company to fly transatlantic routes from the United Kingdom to the United States. The prototype was delivered in 1949, only to prove a commercial failure when airlines felt the airliner was too...

 Road and Bleriot
Louis Blériot
Louis Charles Joseph Blériot was a French aviator, inventor and engineer. In 1909 he completed the first flight across a large body of water in a heavier-than-air craft, when he crossed the English Channel. For this achievement, he received a prize of £1,000...

 Road. The original tree-lined approach driveway (Aerodrome Way) still exists, and radiating from it, buildings in the original 'Aircraft' plan-form designed to resemble an arrow pointing to true magnetic North. Only one complete building remains, the hangar built by A. Jackaman & Sons, and once topped with a large Airwork logo illuminated sign. In 1929, it was the first concrete hangar in the UK, and, in 2009, was given Grade II listed building status.

External links

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