Hanworth Air Park blog series

From the earliest war planes to the jet age, Hanworth Air Park’s exciting history is not immediately obvious to anyone who visits this attractive green space in West London. The story features great industrialists, such as J A Whitehead, and enterprising women aviators like Winifred Brown, as well as controversy and glamour. Text and research by Anne Logie.

Date Events Elsewhere in Britain and Internationally

Events at or related to Hanworth Park


December 17 – Orville Wright makes the world’s first manned, powered, controlled flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  He and his brother Wilbur make three further flights during the day before their plane is caught by a gust of wind and damaged beyond repair.


January 2.  First issue of ‘Flight’ weekly magazine, the official journal of the Aero Club of the Great Britain

Frank McClean converts farm land near Eastchurch, into an airfield for the Aero Club of Great Britain

March – The Short brothers build first UK factory for manufacture of heavier than air machines.  Planes made under licence from Wright brothers.

June 20 – Zeppelin LZ3 is delivered to the German Army

July 25 – Louis Bleriot makes the first flight across the English Channel

August 27 – Henri Farman makes first powered flight of more than one hundred miles

September 7 – Eugène Lefebvre becomes first aeroplane pilot to die in an aircrash.

October 16 – Zeppelin forms the world’s first commercial airline company.

October 30 – Moore-Brabazon flies first circular mile flown by a British aeroplane, winning £1,000 prize from the Daily Mail.

Igor Sikorsky experiments with, but abandons, helicopter design.


January 1 Aéro Club de France issues first pilot’s licences

March 8 – Mademoiselle Elise Deroche becomes world’s first qualified female pilot

March 28 – Henri Fabre makes world’s first take-off from water

May 6 – Death of Edward VII

July 24 – August Euler patents aeroplane machine gun armament arrangement

September 8 – First recorded aerial collision (Austria)

October – first fighter aircraft, complete with machine gun, is exhibited at Paris Aero Show.

December 18 – Tommy Sopwith wins £4,000 for longest flight from England to Europe (Eastchurch to Thirlemont in Belgium)

Royal Aero Club begins issuing Aviator’s Certificates


February 1 – Tommy Sopwith flies from Brooklands to the lawns of Windsor Castle at the request of George V

March 2 – Aero Club starts training naval officers to fly

July 22  first landing of a plane on Hounslow Heath (involuntary)

December 25  Admiralty takes a lease on Eastchurch Aerodrome

April 26. Death of Alfred Lafone, owner of Hanworth Park House and estate.


February – Tommy Sopwith opens Sopwith School of Flying at Brooklands

April 13 Royal Flying Corps established

April 15 – Titanic sinks

June  Tommy Sopwith sets up Sopwith Aviation Company at Brooklands

November – Royal Navy purchases first Sopwith company designed plane, the Hybrid.

December – Sopwith Aviation moves to larger premises, a former roller skating rink in Kingston


Igor Sikorsky designs first successful four engine aircraft, the Russky Vityaz biplane, later modified as a bomber after outbreak of WWI

Royal Naval Air Service buys three D1 planes from Sopwith company, as well as a Sopwith Bat Boat, world’s first practical amphibious aircraft.


June 28  Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand

July 1. Formal founding of Royal Naval Air Service.

August 4. Britain enters the First World War


April 22 First use of poison gas (chlorine) in war.

May 31 Zeppelin bombing of Britain begins

Sopwith Company begins licensing subcontractors in order to keep up with orders from Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps.  Eventually Whitehead Aircraft will be one of those subcontractors.

John Alexander Whitehead secures government contract to build six BE2b biplanes

May 19 – Whitehead Aircraft Company Ltd registered and commences building planes at 31 Townsend Terrace, Richmond.

September- Red Cross Military Hospital opened in Hanworth Park House.

October – first Whitehead Aircraft Co.Ltd plane completed in Richmond and Queen Alexandra visits Red Cross Hospital in Hanworth Park.


Conscription introduced.

The Easter Rising in Dublin.

August 15 Launch of HMS Furious aircraft carrier

September 15  Tanks used for the first time, by British in Battle of the Somme

Sopwith Company introduces the Sopwith Pup, and, by the end of the year, the Sopwith Camel, the first British fighter to have twin synchronised Vickers guns.

Royal Flying Corps acquires part of land north of Hanworth Park House under Defence Of The Realm compulsory purchase provisions.  Land is initially used for research and development purposes

July 10 – Lord Mayor of London officiates at opening ceremony for extension to Whitehead’s Richmond factory.

July 24 – King George and Queen Mary visit Red Cross Hospital

August 8.- Mothers’ Day for mothers of sailors and soldiers serving or killed in the War, initiated by J A Whitehead, celebrated nationally –  approximately four hundred mothers from all over London are driven to Hanworth Park and given a “sumptuous” lunch, followed by a display of aerobatics by Herbert Sykes.  Whitehead receives presentation from his workers during the day.

September – Whitehead buys Hanworth Park, including Hanworth Park House

October – Whitehead buys The Grange estate, Feltham, on which he builds new aircraft factory buildings (the Richmond factory continues in operation).  Buildings include two long rows of sheds/hangars facing one another with a wide concreted area between them.  The ‘Eastern’ sheds back onto the Longford River in an area which today (2018) is occupied by the row of buildings including Cineworld and the ten pin bowling alley.  The area occupied by the ‘Western’ sheds roughly corresponds with the buildings along Air Park Way (2018).  Other buildings are erected along what is now, in 2018, Mono Lane and the western arm of Browell’s Lane.


March – commencement of Russian Revolution

April 6 – USA declares war on Germany

Zeppelins replaced by German bomber planes

June 13 – First mass German bombing of London. 162 civilians killed, 432 injured.

August 2 – Squadron Commander Edwin Dunning becomes first person to land an aircraft (a Sopwith Pup) on a moving ship (HMS Furious)

November 7 – Bolsheviks storm the Winter Palace

December 6 – The Halifax Explosion.  Largest man-made explosion prior to the atomic bomb results from collision of two ships, one carrying munitions.

Royal Flying Corps Hanworth grounds expanded to become No.7 Aircraft  Acceptance Park.  Park  unlikely to have been opened until the end of the year at earliest.

2 February. First of Whitehead’s Sopwith Pup planes for service use is delivered, flown by Sergeant W H Dunn to Kingston.

June 9 –  Release of Pathé film ‘Birth Of An Aeroplane’, partly filmed at Whithead’s factories and at Haworth aerodrome

June 30 – Herbert Sykes crashes in Hanworth Park while testing plane

August 18. – 3,000 employees attend Whitehead Aircraft annual Sports Day in Hanworth Park, including flying demonstration and concert by Whitehead Aerodrome Music Society.

A Munition Girl’s Romance feature film, recorded at Whitehead Richmond factory and Hanworth Aerodrome, goes on general release.

Whitehead culverts and alters course of Longford River to create unimpeded flying field north of Hanworth Park House .

October 16 – Ceremonial opening of sluice and Hanworth Aerodrome by Lord Mayor of London.

Whitehead Flying School opened at Hanworth


January – Outbreak of ‘Spanish Flu’ which lasts into 1919, killing more than 500,000 people worldwide.

January 2. – Air Ministry formed.

March 3 – Lenin takes Russia out of First World War

April 1 – Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps merge to create Royal Air Force

November 1- 1. End of First World War.

Tommy Sopwith awarded a CBE

Herbert Sykes is awarded OBE for courage in testing aircraft.  Medal presented at Hanworth Airfield 29 April.

July 24. Edwin Boyle, aircraft designer employed by Whitehead Aircraft, dies testing parachute at Hanworth.

Ministry of Information film about the importance of women in war work shows, in the second reel, women working at Whitehead factory.


Many aeroplane companies close down through bankruptcy as UK Government withdraws support at end of WWI

January 31 – tanks and troops deployed on Clydeside after a Glasgow demonstration demands living wages and a forty hour week.

1 May. – Civil flying permitted in UK.

June Alcock and Brown make first transatlantic flight, from Newfoundland to Ireland, in a modified Vickers Vimy night bomber

KLM founded: first European commercial airline

August 25 World’s first scheduled international commercial service – Hounslow Heath to Le Bourget

October 13 – Paris Convention regulating international flying and establishing a system of aircraft registration.

January (?) Red Cross Military Hospital closes.

October  last Whitehead plane delivered from Hanworth.


September – Sopwith Aviation and Engineering Company pays off its creditors and goes into voluntary liquidation.

Sopwith and his chief pilot, Harry Hawker, found H G Hawker Engineering Company, building planes, motorcycles, and aluminium car bodies.

November 15 – First meeting of the General Assembly of The League Of Nations held in Geneva

Juan de la Cierva takes out first patent for his autogiro in Spain

April 1. RAF Feltham at Hanworth Park designated as an emergency landing site.

April 17  Large demonstration, led by Chairman of Feltham Urban District Council and Rev F J Browell, demanding reinstatement of bridle path across Hanworth Park.  Brick wall erected by MOD blocking path battered down.  Mounted police in attendance.

Whitehead Aircraft dissolved. Whitehead becomes bankrupt.


December 6 Anglo-Irish Peace Treaty signed, partitioning Ireland


RAF leaves Hanworth, no further flying at Hanworth until 1929


RAF property transferred to the Army.

Plans drawn up to build ‘Aircraft Garden Suburb’ on Whitehead Aircraft (1917) Ltd property to recover investor losses, but plan does not succeed.


de la Cierva demonstrates C6A at Farnborough.  UK Government commences sponsorship of autogiros

April 6  First screening of a film in an airplane

April 10 “The Great Gatsby” published

August 19 – The London Aeroplane Club, formed by the Royal Aero Club with Air Ministry backing as part of a government scheme to encourage light plane clubs throughout the country, is officially opened at the Stag Lane aerodrome of the De Havilland Aircraft Company

Union Construction Company, acquires the ‘Western’ erecting shed of the former Whitehead factory.  A subsidiary of London United Tramways, UCC built underground railway carriages, trams, and trolley buses


January 26 John Logie Baird gives first public demonstration of television

May 3 – General Strike commences

Cierva Autogiro Company formed in UK, based at Hamble

Aston Martin (formerly Bamford and Martin) takes occupation of two buildings originally built by Whitehead as offices and a timber store at the bottom of Victoria Road.


January 1  British Broadcasting Corporation is granted Royal Charter

March 7 – first transatlantic telephone call (London – New York)

May 20/21 – Charles Lindberg flies solo non-stop New York to Paris

June 5 – The Society for Space Flight formed in Germany

August 12 – “Wings” starring Clara Bow released.

October 14-15 – Capt. Dieudonné and Lt Cmdr Joseph le Brix make first non-stop aircraft crossing of the South Atlantic (Senegal to Brazil)


May 7 – Representation of the People Act gives everyone over the age of twenty-one the right to vote.

September -‘The Jazz Singer’, the first talking picture, opens in London after earlier US release.

September 18 – Juan de la Cierva flies from Croydon to Le Bourget.  First cross Channel flight in a rotary wing aircraft.

Union Construction Company completes the rebuilding of 259 cars for the Central Line as part of the modernisation of London’s transport, and commences work on construction of newly designed cars for the Piccadilly and Bakerloo Lines.


January – Government White Paper sets out terms of agreement with National Flying Services (NFS) for a network of aerodromes, each to function as a flying school and club, next to large towns around the country. NFS to establish and equip at least twenty new air fields and eighty landing grounds within three years. As it was the idea of Captain F E Guest, the agreement becomes referred to as ‘the Guest scheme’

February 14 – Pitcairn-Cierva Autogiro Company of America formed as Cierva licensee in US

The 1927 film ‘Wings’ starring Clara Bow and including genuine flight footage is awarded first ever Oscar for Best Film

Test section of monospar wing, invented by Swiss engineer Mr H J Steiger of the Mono-Spar Co. Ltd. exhibited at the International Aero Show in Olympia.  Air Ministry places order for a monospar wing for a Fokker F.VII-3M owned by the Air Ministry.

August 8-29 The Graf Zeppelin makes first flight around the world by an airship.

October 24 – Wall Street Crash.  Beginning of the Great Depression

UK Railway companies obtain Air Powers.

Hanworth selected as headquarters and technical base for the National Flying Services (NFS).

NFS purchases the former Whitehead aerodrome and factory site*, including Hanworth Park House and The Grange. Hanworth Park House to be converted into club premises for the NFS flying club, which will operate on the south side of the estate.  The north side of the estate to be reserved for NFS commercial operations. Estate renamed London Air Park.  Booking Office opens in the Grand Buildings, Trafalgar Square.

August 31 – Duchess of Bedford (aka ‘the Flying Duchess’) performs opening ceremony at the London Air Park

By December the membership is 682 and still growing.  Tea dances in the ballroom twice a week, and dinner dances every alternate Friday.

(Date uncertain) The Longford River south east of the ‘island’ of Hanworth Park House is covered over with old railway sleepers in order to increase flying area to 230 acres.


*(does not affect the accommodation of existing businesses such as Union Construction Company, which in 1929 began development of the ‘Feltham’ model metal frame tram.  A total of 103 ‘Feltham’ trams were delivered to London United Tramways and Metropolitan Tramways, and continued in use in London until 1951)


Amy Johnson becomes first female pilot to fly solo from UK to Australia

April 10. Mary Russell embarks on a record-breaking flight from Lympne Airport to Cape Town, in the “The Spider”, flying 9,000 miles in 91 hours and twenty minutes over 10 days, accompanied by Barnard and Little.

June 14 – Air taxi service started from London Air Park. Viscount Brentford (formerly Sir W Joynson-Hicks) performs opening ceremony. Desoutter high wing monoplanes with cabins used for taxi service, taking one or two passengers.

London Airpark Club membership increases to 850.

July 5. – Miss Winifred Brown wins the King’s Cup air race held at Hanworth. and is presented with the cup by Sir Phillip Sassoon, Under-Seretary for Air.

United Construction Company commences production of trolly buses known as ‘Diddlers’, sixty of which are produced before the works closes in 1932


February/March – General Aircraft Ltd registered as a company, distinct from General Aircraft (Parent) Ltd.

July – Imperial Airways starts Silver Wing scheduled service to Paris from Croydon.

July 10 – FLIGHT magazine reports “a new company has taken up quarters [at Croydon Airport] and will be known as General Aircraft Co., Ltd.  Their first machine, a Monospar has arrived”

FLIGHT also reports that a small twin-engined light plane designed by the Mono-Spar Company and built for them by Gloster Aircraft Co., Ltd, has been tested at Martlesham Heath.  Mono-Spar Co has temporary accommodation at Croydon, though registered office is in London

August – General Aircraft Ltd, undertakes tests on behaviour of monospar wing contruction. (General Aircraft Co has factory at Croydon Aerodrome)

(In 1932 FLIGHT magazine refers to Stieger as managing director and designer of both the Monospar Company and General Aircraft, Ltd.

Trafalgar Square office of the National Flying Services closes.  Administration offices move to The Grange within the London Air Park.

January 9 – FLIGHT magazine reviews experimental twin engine Monospar monoplane previously seen at Hanworth

March 22. – Members of the Japanese royal family visit Hanworth together with Japanese ambassador and Colonel Shelmerdine. Wing Commander Brie displays “the unique flying qualities of the autogyro”.

May – Ahrens smoke indicator of wind strength and direction installed in the airfield, the first in the country.

June 6 – Hanworth Parliamentary Garden Party. Planes on show include the Handley Page “Hannibal”, a Blériot monoplane, the first British Red Cross aeroplane.  Exhibition flying included a two-seater glider, a formation flight of planes from No.600 City of London Bomber Squadron, an autogiro, and a Monospar twin-engined monoplane.

June 28 – King Alfonso of Spain and Lord Stonehaven visit Hanworth for a display of gliding. Pilots include Herr Kronfeld, winner of Daily Mail double glide prize.

June 30 – Kroner makes first glide over London, landing at Chatham after a four hour flight starting in Hanworth.

August 18 – Graf Zeppelin airship lands at Hanworth

November 19 – C24 and C19 MkIV Autogiros demonstrated at Hanworth Aerodrome

December 7 – Bert Hinkler lands at Hanworth on completion of first solo crossing of the South Atlantic in a light aircraft, a DH Puss Moth

Having completed construction of the order for Piccadilly and Bakerloo line vehicles, United Construction Company commences construction of forty-five cars for the Metropolitan and District Lines (L Stock)


March 1 – “The Lindberg Kidnapping” twenty month old son of Charles and Anne Lindberg is kidnapped (found dead on 12 May despite Lindberg having paid $50,000 ransom on 2 April)

May – Al Capone imprisoned for tax evasion

May 9 Piccadilly Circus lit by electricity

May 20 Amelia Earhart departs Newfoundland on solo flight to Ireland (first woman to do so) (completed in 13hr and 15 min.)|

Franklin D Roosevelt elected US President.  Institutes the ‘New Deal’ to alleviate Depression hardship.

November – General Aircraft Ltd exhibits its first plane, the Monospar ST4, at the Paris Aero Show.

Middlesex Chronicle issues warning that any dog caught worrying sheep grazing the airfield.

April 25 – J N Young departs from Hanworth in an autogiro, intending to fly to Cape Town.  (Flight abandoned on May 23)

May – Cierva Autogyro company moves production to Hanworth and opens Cierva Autogyro Flying School at the aerodrome.

May 18 – manoeuvrability of C19 MkIV autogiro demonstrated in a “dog fight” with a Moth at the Household Brigade Flying Club meet at Heston

May 22 – Amelia Earhart flies to Hanworth from Ireland after completion of her transAtlantic flight, landing in heavy rain.

June 1  Metropolitan Police borrow autogiro to use for crowd traffic control on Derby Day.

June 19 – Garden Party: 600 members of the Royal Aeronautical Society entertained at Hanworth by Mr C R Fairey. 400 host club members attend. Baron E von Schleich and a cousin of Baron Richthofen also attend. Public admitted for payment & can get tea and a joy ride. Flying display from 3pm into the night.   ‘Heracles’, sister plane to ‘Hannibal’  becomes stuck in the wood-covered culvert of the Longford River.  Damages in “five figures” awarded against National Flying Service.  The line of the wooden culvert is subsequently marked by a fence, limiting the flying area, until the culvert is finally concreted over. (c.1937?)

June 30 – Herr Kronfeld makes the first glider flight over London, starting from Hanworth.

July – Graf Zeppelin returns to Hanworth.

Government withdraws its subsidy of the National Flying Service

Union Construction Company works close.


February – Boeing introduces the 247, a twin-engine 10-passenger monoplane, the first modern commercial airliner.

Nazis come to power in Germany.  Adolf Hitler withdraws from the Disarmament Conference and the League of Nations in order to begin re-arming.

RKO releases “Flying Down To Rio” with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers featuring extraordinary dance sequences on airplane wings.

Germans demonstrate plane with retractable undercarriage.

June 24 – direct control autogiro flown in public for first time as part of RAF air display at Hendon

“International House” featuring W C Fields released.  Field’s character flies around the world in an autogiro.

June – National Flying Services put into receivership but continues trading until 1934  Airfield also continues.

British Klemm Aeroplane Co. Ltd. formed and starts production in two bays of the former Whitehead Eastern shed

British Aircraft Ltd rents one bay of the former Whitehead sheds.



July 19 – New air defence programme adds 41 squadrons to the RAF

October – registration of new company, General Aircraft, Limited, set up to acquire the goodwill and assets of the General Aircraft Ltd company formed in 1931.  General Aircraft also takes over the Monospar Company.

The Monospar Company voluntarily wound up.

“It Happened One Night”, starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert, released.  One scene features a bridegroom arriving in his own autogiro.

April – June various autogiro models tested demonstrated at Hanworth

October – General Aircraft Ltd restructures, acquires the assets of National Flying Service Ltd including the park and the most of the former Whitehead industrial premises, and grants 42 year lease to associated company, Aircraft Exchange & Mart Ltd, who are to manage the aerodrome and the flying school. They form a syndicate called London Air Park Club, registered as a private company in October 1934, to run a social country club at the House which would also be open to non-flyers.

Miss Mayne is filmed by Pathé demonstrating the safety and ease of flying an autogyro.

November Juan de la Cierva publicly demonstrates C.30P Autogiro at Hanworth


Britain begins to rearm in anticipation of war.

Sir Robert Watson-Watt patents the first practical radar (radio detection and ranging) system for meteorological applications

Italy invades Ethiopia

Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Thirty Nine Steps” released, including footage of a Weir Autogiro flying over moors.

April – British Aircraft Manufacturing Ltd takes over British Klemm Aeroplane Ltd, manufacturing “Eagle” and “Swallow” planes at Hanworth Aerodrome.

April 27 – Madame Matsudaira, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, christens an Eagle plane “Seikai”.  Seikai is to be flown by Katsutaro Ano in an attempt to establish a record for a flight from London to Tokyo. Built by British Klemm Company at Hanworth.

May. Señora de Ayala, the Spanish Ambassador’s wife, christens an Eagle plane “Santander”.  Santander is to be flown by Señor Juan Ignacio Pombo on a nine thousand mile journey from Santander to Mexico City.

June 1 – Aircraft Distributors Ltd, agents for Hawk Aircraft, move to Hanworth.

June 2 – Hanworth Park House reopened as country club by Captain Guest. Duchess of Bedford presents prizes and her plane wins the Concours d’Elegance, judged by Captain Stack

GAL transfers production of its Monospar series to Hanworth, and in 1936 it produced 89 Hawker Fury IIs for the RAF, followed by the conversion of 125 Hawker Hinds into trainers.


January 1 – British Airways Ltd starts operations from Heston, later moving to Gatwick, then Croydon, before returning to Heston in May 1938.

January 20 – death of George V

March 4 – launch of the ‘Hindenburg’ zeppelin, the world’s largest rigid airship.

June 26 – first flight in a twin rotor helicopter.  Pilot Ewarld Rohlfs. (lasts only thirty seconds)

October – Pan Am inaugurates the first transpacific passenger service.

October 5-30 – The Jarrow Crusade. Two hundred men from Jarrow, Co Durham, which was suffering from 70% unemployment following closure of the shipyard, march three hundred miles to London to deliver a petition to Parliament signed by over 11,000 people requesting a steel works to be built in their area.

December 10  Edward VIII abdicates.

December – Juan de la Cierva killed in KLM plane crash at Croydon

Spanish Civil War (continues until 1939)

May – Hanworth Park House converts from country club house to hotel, the Hanworth Park Hotel.

April – Charles Lindbergh visits the airfield where he flew in a BK.1 Eagle sales demonstrator aircraft, that he subsequently flew solo.

May 2 – American ‘Bird Man’ Clem Sohn jumps from 10,000 ft watched by a crowd of about 50,000

May – In response to local protest about the noise made by its Monospar planes, General Aircraft counters that it gives employment to local men.

June 7 – Amy Johnson (aka Mrs Amy Mollison) christens the first purpose built air ambulance “Florence Nightingale” at Hanworth Garden Party. The air ambulance was made by GAL and later flown from Hanworth for service in the Spanish Civil War.

Lady Shelmerdine, wife of the Director of Civil Aviation christens fleet of planes built specially for service in Canada, and takes an inaugural flight in one of them.


Jet engines designed independently by Britain’s Frank Whittle and Germany’s Hans von Ohain make their first test runs.

Mary Russell, Duchess of Bedford, dies in airplane accident off Great Yarmouth.

April 26 – aerial bombing of Guernica

May 6 – Hindenburg Disaster: the zeppelin is destroyed by fire whilst docking at Lakehurst, New Jersey. Thirty-three passengers killed.

May 12 – Coronation of George VI

July 2 – Amelia Earhart and Capt. Fred Noonan lost over the Pacific.

July 7 – Japan invades China

August  British Air Ministry announces order for C.40 autogiros

Oct 25  Hanna Reitsch, first female helicopter pilot, establishes a distance record for helicopters (67 miles) flying a Focke Wulf FW61.

December 28  Board of G & J Weir Ltd decides to switch development from autogiros to helicopters

May 19 – Empire Air Day. Aerial display organised by GAL. Florence Desmond, musical comedy star, attends. Isle of Man Air Race starts from Hanworth.  One competitor crashes into a house on the Hounslow Road, killing himself, his co-pilot, and a resident of the house.

Petition by local residents to close the aerodrome on safety grounds.

Government sets up Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School under contract by Flying Training Ltd, in order to create a pool of pilots in case of war.  Accommodation for reserve officers is provided at The Grange.

London Airpark Flying Club trains Civil Air Guard, a reserve of non-operational pilots. Training organised to be available outside normal working hours.  Miss Valerie Mendelson is the first student.

5 June. – Tipsy Aircraft Company Ltd formed to manufacture Tipsy Trainers under licence from Avions Fairey, first at Hanworth, then at Slough in 1939.


February 12. First ‘Kindertransport’ children arrive in Britain

March 12 Germany occupies Austria

September 28-30  Munich Conference.  Sudetenland ceded to Germany.  Prime Minister Chamberlain believes that ‘peace in our time’ has been achieved.

June – C.40 autogiro makes its first jump take-offs at Hanworth

GAL takes over development of the Cygnet, the first light aircraft built in the UK with a metal skin on both fuselage and wings.



August 27 – the first jet aircraft, the Heinkel HE 178, takes off, powered by von Ohain’s HE S-3 engine.

Pan Am and Imperial Airways begin scheduled transatlantic passenger service.

September 1 – Germany invades Poland

September 3 – Britain & France declare war on Germany.  European air services temporarily suspended.

September 14 – first flight of Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 helicopter

February 19 – BBC television announcer Jasmine Bligh flies in C30 and C40 autogiros at Hanworth, giving commentary as she does.

June – Raymond Pullin breaks in to Autogiro Flying Club hangar and takes out an autogiro for a fifteen minute flight over the airpark and neighbouring houses before crashing in the park.

August 6 – Last Garden Party at London Air Park

September 3 – No.5 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School drops its ‘reserve’ status.  The fleet then standardized with the Miles Magister.  (Moved to Meir, Staffordshire on 16 June 1940).

The Mound, the former Ice House for Hanworth Park House, is turned into an air raid centre.

The space between the Eastern and Western sheds built by Whitehead Aircraft Ltd is excavated to a depth of ten feet to create concrete air raid shelters and eventually the entire space is covered over.

Rollason Aircraft Services Ltd (later renamed Field Consolidated Aircraft Services Ltd) carries out repairs and refurbishment of Airspeed Oxfords and de Havilland Tiger Moths, as part of the Civilian Repair Organisation.


Rationing introduced.

April 1 – British Airways Ltd and Imperial Airways combine to form British Overseas Airways Corporation.

May 13 – Sikorsky VS300 single rotor helicopter makes its first free flight.

May 26 – June 4 Allied troops evacuated from Dunkirk

June – Italy declares war on Britain and France

July – September – Battle of Britain

September 7  The ‘Blitz’ commences and continues until May 1941.  Approximately 41,000 killed

Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School is transferred to Staffordshire.

October 3 – German incendiary bomb destroys GAL production of Cygnets and Albemarle sections.


December 7 – Japan bombs Pearl Harbour

December 8 – USA declares war on Japan, thus entering WWII


R-4 world’s first production helicopter


July 27 – commencement of ‘Operation Gomorrah’: eight days of aerial bombing of Hamburg by UK and US.  Firestorm winds of up to 150mph and temperatures of at least 800C.  Approximately 20,000 killed on 27 July, final total estimated at between 34,000 and 43,000 dead.

September 8 – Italy signs armistice

October 13 Italy declares war on Germany


September 8 – first V2 launched against England lands in Chiswick.  Two people killed and several injured


February 13-15 – Intense UK and US aerial bombardment of Dresden creates firestorm, destroying the city.  RAF crew reports smoke rising to 15,000 ft.  Fire was visible 500 miles away.  Over 25,000 killed.  Total unknown as refugees from elsewhere had taken shelter in the city.

March 27 – Last V2 rocket to fall in UK lands in Orpington, killing one and injuring twenty-three others.

May – Germany surrenders

July 14 – first successful detonation of an atomic bomb.

July 28 – US Army Air Force bomber flying in bad visibility hits 79th floor of the Empire State Building.  Nineteen people killed, including the crew, and twenty-six injured.

August 6 – atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima   Immediate deaths 118,661, but in long term totalled around 140,000.

August 8 – atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki

September 2 – Japan signs surrender, bringing WWII to an end.

Oct 20 – RAF Squadron No.529 (Autogiros) disbanded.  It had flown a total of 9,141 hours.


March 8 – Bell Model 47 is granted the first commercial helicopter certificate to be awarded by US Civil Aviation Authority

July 1 – Atomic bomb dropped over Bikini Atoll

May 2  – First scheduled flight from Heathrow.  Heathrow becomes the principal London Airport.  Flights to and from Hanworth become subject to Heathrow air traffic clearance, eventually growing to delays of several hours.


April 4 – International Civil Aviation Organisation established.

August – Partition of India

October 14 – Chuck Yeager breaks the sound barrier in Bell X1 rocket-powered aircraft

October – Bell 47B Helicopter, the first helicopter ever licensed to carry passengers for hire, is demonstrated on the lawn at Hanworth Park House

November – Captain A G Lamplough flies his bright green Bell Irving helicopter from Hanworth to Lime Street, off Fenchurch Street, the first helicopter ever to land in the City of London.

Hanworth Airfield closed, though the hotel in Hanworth Park House continues to advertise facilities for private flying


Last year in which any fixed wing flight from Hanworth is recorded.


Principal Sources:

British Newspaper online Archive https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

Coming In To Land – Tim Sherwood

“Feedback”  (Thorn EMI in house magazine) 1987 – copies held in Feltham Library Local Studies

FLIGHT Magazine online archive https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/index.html

Kingston Aviation website https://www.kingstonaviation.org



Feltham Library Local Studies

Richmond upon Thames Local Studies History and Archive

The National Archive

Brooklands Museum Library

RAF Museum Library


Online Films:  (titles have been given as links sometimes fail when websites are reorganised)

Imperial War Museums https://www.iwm.org.uk :

Mrs John Bull Prepared – Reel 2: Women Workers at Whitehead factory Hanworth (1918)

The Imperial War Museum’s online materials also include oral history interviews, photographs, paintings, and other objects.

Pathé https://www.britishpathe.com  Sometimes the same subject will be covered in more than one film.  Some of these films are only seconds long:

Mother’s Day – 300 Mothers at Hanworth Park (1916)

Women Factory Workers Say Merry Christmas (aka Supply of Munitions) women at work in Whitehead Factory (1916) – Pathé

Christmas In The Air – Herbert Sykes with holly (1916)

River Diverted At Hanworth Park (1917)

Britain’s Mastery In The Air – footage of planes and workers at Whitehead Factory (frequently re-used in other films) (1917) – Pathé

A Wonderful Airmen (sic) – Mr Sykes (appears to be after Sykes was given his OBE) (1918)

Windmill Plane Test – autogiro piloted by de la Cierva, location not identified (1926)

London’s Air Park (Duchess of Bedford opens Air Park in Hanworth) (1929) – British Pathé

Transport: Aviation: Teaching Flying At Hanworth Aerodrome (1929) – Reuters

Up-To-Date Week-Enders (1930) – British Pathé

22 Year Old Girl Wins The King’s Cup (1930) British Pathé

22 Year Old Girl Wins The King’s Cup – Cuts (additional footage) (1930) – British Pathé

Hanworth Gliding Meeting (1931)

Flying For All (new design of autogiro) (1931) – British Pathé

Britain Is Supreme In The Air – Machine and Man! (Bert Hinkler arrives at Hanworth) (1931) – Pathé

Hinkler At Hanworth (Bert Hinkler arrives at Hanworth after Record-breaking flight (1931) – Reuters

Flying Coupé On Trial (all-weather auto-gyro completes a successful first flight at Hanworth) (1931) – Reuters

With No Bombs This Time (visit of Graf Zeppelin airship) (1931) – British Pathé

Graf Zeppelin Here! (Graf Zeppelin in England at Hanworth) (1931) – Reuters

The Tail First Plane (Mrs Victor Bruce demonstrates the new Focke-Wulf ‘Ente’ (1931) – British Pathé

The Motor Cycle Of The Air (a small 6hp plane for everyday use) (1932) – British Pathé

Ex-Enemies Meet As Friends! (two German pilots visit RAF pilots who fought in WWI) (1932) – British Pathé

Graf Zeppelin (1932) – British Pathé

Get Airminded! (Sir Alan Cobham and his wonderful Air Circus commences tour of Britain)(1932)

National Aviation: Sir Alan Cobham starts on tour of chief English towns to encourage civil flying (shots of aviation at Hanworth) (1932) – Reuters

Aviation’s Latest Wonder (a new design of autogiro is demonstrated at Hanworth (1933) – Pathé

Speed … Speed … Always More Speed! (demonstration of retractable landing gear) (1933) – British Pathé

Aerial Speedway at Hanworth (Pylon racing) (1933) – Reuters

Back To The Old Love (Claude Grahame-White takes flight in 6ph plane, having not flown since 1921, watched by Amy Johnson and her husband Jim Mollison) (1933) – British Pathé

Safety Flying (Miss Mayne demonstrates an autogiro) (1934) – British Pathé

Plane Crashes Into Street At Feltham (1936)

News In A Nutshell (first complete fleet of airplanes for service in Canada is christened at Hanworth) (1936)

Bird Man At Hanworth (Clem Sohn) (1936) – British Pathé

Birdman Clem Sohn Jumps From Plane (1936) – Reuters (Gaumont)

Airshow Dare-Devil Clem Sohn Leaps From Plane (1936) Reuters

Instructional Plane at Hanworth (1936) – British Pathé

News In A Nutshell (H F “Jim” Broadbent lands having just broken the record for a solo flight from Australia) (1937)

News In A Nutshell (New type of Gyroplane) (1937) – British Pathé

Empire Air Day Displays at Hendon (1938) – British Pathé

RAF Plane Crash at Hanworth (1938) – Reuters


Research and text by Anne Logie. First published by Environment Trust

Keep in touch!

Sign up for our monthly newsletter and be first to hear all the news, opportunities and events from the Habitats & Heritage community