If you live or work in Central London, you probably saw the flypast yesterday of 100 aircraft from the Royal Air Force to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Heathrow Airport was closed for 20 minutes in order to manage the display.
As part of the anniversary celebrations, Heathrow has released a series of images of hangars, aircraft and engineers at what was formerly known as ‘Heath Row Aerodrome’ – see below.
Heathrow originated in 1929 as a small airfield, Great West Aerodrome, on land south-east of the hamlet of Heath Row from which the airport takes its name.
Development of Heathrow began in 1944 as a long-distance military aircraft base for the Royal Air Force, used by aircraft heading for the Far East. By the time the airfield was completed, World War II had ended and the airport was no longer required as a defence base.
The government continued to develop Heathrow as a civil airport, opening as London Airport in 1946 and renamed as Heathrow Airport in 1966.
The first civilian aircraft to take off from Heathrow was a converted Lancaster bomber called Starlight that flew to Buenos Aires (that is not it in the photo below!).
An official commemorative book to mark the event, 100 Years of the RAF, has been published and is available on Amazon here. It includes two pages on role of Heathrow in the history of the service.