RAF Hendon

RAF Hendon, just eight miles north west from central London, was established in WW1 on the site of one of the world’s first commercial airfields. Ballooning had been popular on a reservoir near here in the late 19th century, and at the beginning of the 20th early aircraft production was taking place at neighboring Colindale. The aviation pioneer Claude Grahame-White bought the airfield and established his aircraft factory here in 1911, and that year the world’s first official airmail flight flew between Hendon and Windsor. In 1912 Grahame-White organised the world’s first air show at Hendon.

In the first world war the airfield was taken over by the Admiralty and early machines of the Royal Naval Air Service flew in air defence of London from Hendon. In 1916 the civilian training school was taken over by the Royal Flying Corps (to become the RAF in 1918) to train its pilots. After the First War, Military Air shows became a regular event, becoming known as Empire Air Day in the 30s. The auxiliary 604 squadron was formed and flew from Hendon from 1930.

The airfield was little used for operational flying in the Battle of Britain, but mainly for transport and communications activities. Today it is the home of the RAF Museum.