Hanworth Air Park - UK Airfield Guide

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Hanworth Air Park






HANWORTH AIR PARK: Civil aerodrome

(Also known as FELTHAM AERODROME, HANWORTH AERODROME. But, officially from 1929 it was LONDON AIR PARK)

Hanworth circa 1930s?
Hanworth circa 1930s?
          
Note:  The John Stroud Collection:

Activities: GA business, private, training and light aeroplane manufacture
 

Operated by: WW1: Whitehead Aircraft Co Ltd

1929 to 1947: National Flying Services and also General Aircraft


 

Military users: RFC/RAF Aircraft Acceptance Park and Mobilisation Station (1917 to 1919)
 

Flying School: WW1: Whitehead Flying School   (Caudron G.3s)


The Aeronca C-3 G-ADYS, still flying in the 21st century
The Aeronca C-3 G-ADYS, still flying in the 21st century

Flying Club: 1930s: The Hanworth Club, London Air Park Flying Club
 

Flying schools:   Pre 1940: Brevet Flying Club, Cierva Autogiro Flying School, Empire Air Services, Hanworth Air Park Club, London Air Park Flying Club

No.5 ERFTS (Miles Magisters)






 

Manufacturing: WW1: Whitehead Aircraft (Built 820 Sopwith Pups & 500 Airco DH.9s)

Pre 1940 & WW2: General Aircraft, British Klemm Aeroplane Company (later renamed British Aircraft Manufacturing Company). The B.A.C. (British Aircraft Company), moved here from Maidstone in 1933? Brian Alled Aviation (Producing Tipsy B Trainers)


Hanworth on a 1930s aviation chart
Hanworth on a 1930s aviation chart

Location: 2nm SW of Hounslow
 

Period of operation: WW1: 1917 to 1919. Then from 1929 (some say 1931) to 1947. However, a dwindling number of movements, associated with the manufacturing/conversion companies based here, continued until 1955.
 

WW1 site area: 142 acres 1052 x 777

1933: Max landing run   969 grass
 

 

NOTES: According to Ron Smith in British Built Aircraft Vol.5 the L.G. & L.J. Anderson company were constructing the Avro 504N, Avro 504O and the Avro 552 variant here, fairly shortly after WW1. Typically the picture is complicated and as Ron Smith says, “The vast supply of surplus Avro 504 airframes that were available from the Aircraft Disposal Company, and from Avro storage at ALEXANDER PARK, (CHESHIRE), formed the basis for a bewildering range of variants with different engines and passenger arrangements.”

 

I’ll give this shortened version suiting my purpose regarding flying sites where Avro 504 variants were being produced:

 

Location
Type
Constructor(s)
CROYDON (SURREY)
504L (Seaplane)
The Aircraft Disposal Co
 
504N
The Aircraft Disposal Co
 
504O (Seaplane)
The Aircraft Disposal Co
 
536
Surrey Flying Services
 
548
The Aircraft Disposal Co
 
548
Surrey Flying Services
 
 
 
 
 
 
EASTBOURNE (SUSSEX)
504L (Seaplane)
Eastbourne Aviation
 
 
 
HAMBLE (HAMPSHIRE)
504L (Seaplane)
A V Roe
 
504N
A V Roe
 
504O (Seaplane)
A V Roe
 
504Q
A V Roe
 
504R
A V Roe
 
536
A V Roe
 
548
A V Roe
 
552
A V Roe
 
 
 
HANWORTH (LONDON)
504N
L G & L J Anderson
 
504O (Seaplane)
L G & L J Anderson
 
552
L G & L J Anderson
 
 
 
PENSHURST (KENT)
504N
Air Travel
 
504O (Seaplane)
Air Travel
 
 
 
WITNEY (OXFORDSHIRE)
548
Berkshire Aviation Tours


Plus a location I need to find as it might be possibly a flying site?: KINGSWOOD, KNOLL:   504N, 504O & 552s being produced by  C B Field
Also, A V Roe built the 504N, 504O and 504R in Manchester


THE AVRO 504 LEGACY
The Avro 504 design is often cited as being the longest lived of the pre-WW2 types, the first flight being on the 18th September 1913 and being withdrawn from RAF service in 1933. However a handful still operating in civilian guise when WW2 was declared were impressed into service in 1940 for target and glider towing.


1928
The unique on the British register (?) Junkers F.13fe G-EBZV was based here from 1928 to probably 1936.

 

NATIONAL FLYING SERVICES
National Flying Services, despite having some very big names listed as directors, was never on a sound financial footing, but, despite this they did succeed in running aerodromes at HULL (presumably HEDON?), SHERBURN-in-ELMET, BLACKPOOL (SQUIRES GATE or perhaps more likely STANLEY PARK ?), READING (WOODLEY), and NOTTINGHAM (TOLLERTON) by 1931. It also appears they were involved with developing STOKE-on-TRENT (MEIR).
 


THE KING'S CUP
5th July 1930. Venue for the ninth King’s Cup Air Race. Estimates vary for those competing ranging from 101 entrants to 80 on the ‘starting line’. One expert reckons there were 88 aircraft taking-off. This was by far the greatest number of aircraft competing in this race. The first King’s Cup Race was held at CROYDON in 1922 with twenty-two entrants and the number of entrants since has rarely exceeded much over forty. Against this considerable competition the race was won by Miss Winifred Brown of the Lancashire Aero Club, the first woman to win the King’s Cup. The next woman to win the King’s Cup was Josephine O-Donnell at FINNINGLEY fifty one years later!

The course that year (1930) was of 750 miles (probably 753.25 miles?) via WHITCHURCH, BARTON, CRAMLINGTON and HEDON. Ms Brown was flying the Avro Avian III G-EBVZ and averaged 102.75mph.

This might well have been the second venue, (the first being in 1927), when the King’s Cup Race eventually became a one-day event? It was without any doubt, the only year the King’s Cup was held here.
 


Another aerial view of LONDON AIR PARK
Another aerial view of LONDON AIR PARK
A ground view in the mid to late 1930s
A ground view in the mid to late 1930s
The GAL Monospar ST-25 G-AEDY
The GAL Monospar ST-25 G-AEDY













 

Note: These three pictures from postcards were kindly sent by Mike Charlton who has an amazing collection. See,  www.aviationpostcard.co.uk

I think it is interesting that, in both of the first pictures, the captions state they are pictures of London Air Park, Feltham.


The second picture is of considerable interest as it includes two quite rare aeroplanes. On the left is G-AAOF, a Blackburn Bluebird MK.4 registered to Mr H. R. Fields from 1936 who based it at HEADON in Yorkshire.

On the right is G-AAPS, a Desoutter MK.1 owned by Richard Shuttleworth, Old Warden Park, Biggleswade from April 1934.

Needless to say the Shuttleworth Collection and the aerodrome at OLD WARDEN are now, and have long since been, one of the finest jewels in the British aviation scene. 

The third picture is of the GAL Monospar ST-25 G-AEDY. The model known, according to various sources as either a 'Jubilee' or a 'Universal'. The latter coming from the CAA database. First registered on the 12th March 1936 it doesn't appear to have entered service until acquired by Aircraft Facilities at HOOTON PARK in CHESHIRE. They operated it from the 12th January 1937 until the 9th May 1939. Perhaps using it mostly on a sub-contract basis?

Utility Airways registered G-AEDY on the 26th May 1939, and they gave their address as being MERSEYSIDE AIR PARK at Hooton. A name for HOOTON PARK that I'd never come across before. It appears it crashed here, (HANWORTH), on the 3rd January 1940. 



BRITISH AERO CLUBS
In 1931 there were over forty ‘Aero Clubs’ operating in the UK with 6000 members and about 380 private aircraft were on the British register. It has been estimated that, at this time, around 2000 pilots had ‘A’ licenses, and some 300 had ‘B’ or commercial licenses. The cost of operating a private aircraft was around £250 to £300 per annum, plus fuel @ 1s 4d a gallon. BROOKLANDS and HESTON were then the flying centers for “London Society” flyers, HANWORTH being the place for less wealthy aviators.
 

On the 11th October 1931 the C.D. Barnard Air Tours ‘Tour of the UK’ paid a visit.


1932  THE DAWN OF A NEW ERA
April 12th 1932. Hanworth was the assembly point for Sir Alan Cobhams first series of three hugely successful National Aviation Day Display Tours. They returned to hold a display on the 17th April. One again I can highly recommend reading A Time To Fly by Sir Alan Cobham. Although he detested the term 'Flying Circus', this will be the what he is best known for creating? Something quite extraordinary including a singular air display featuring several 'novelty' aerial dislays, then the chance for the public to have a flight.

Right from the start Cobham wanted a simple robust aircraft, carrying ten people, with what we now regard as STOL capablitites. Nothing existed. To cut the story a bit short, through Cobham's connections, the Airspeed Ferry was the result. And it 'ticked all the boxes' from the outset.

As Cobham tells us, "Now it so happened that two old friends of mine, A. H. Tiltman and Nevil Shute Norway, found themselves unemployed at the end of 1930 when the airship programme was wound up. (They had been working on the wholly successful private-enterprise R.100: the civil servants who were responsible for the disastrous R.101 kept their jobs."

"So with great courage - in view of the adverse economic situation - they decided to form a company and build small aircraft. They were fortunate enough to get the solid backing of Lord Grimthorpe, who became their Chairman; and before long they asked me to join them. I thus became one of the original directors of Airspeed Ltd, and at the first meeting of the board, on 17 April 1931 - I told Norway and Tiltman about the joy-riding airliner-in-miniature that I needed so badly."  

"This was the genesis of the Ferry, a three-engined biplane that exactly met my requirements. The astonishing thing was the speed with which it was designed and built. The contract was only signed in June, and when I assembled my National Aviation Day fleet at Hanworth on the 12 April next year, the prototype Ferry had already flown, and was to join us - fully tested and certfied - hardly more than two weeks later."

"Wise people had told me that the thing simply couldn't be done so quickly. This was because they were thinking of what usually happens in large, old, sluggish organisations. They didn't realise what can be done by able and dedicated young men who really believe in what they are doing and prepared to work. The Ferry was built in a disused bus garage at York, by the power of something now unthinkable - the sixteen hour day."


THE START OF THE FIRST TOUR
Nothing even remotely like it could be envisaged today - it would be quite impossible. As Cobham tells us; "....I still faced a colossal and most varied task. I needed moral support, for one thing, and I secured this from a great many organisations, including Automobile Association and the London Chamber of Commerce, the long list of their names taking up half of the headed stationery I had printed for my campaign."

Paramount was forming a team to manage the project, and here he found the very best people; Dallas Eskell (manager), Miss Frances Cameron (secretary), Leonard Rossiter, (press officer), and Chief Pilot Flight-Lieutenant H C Johnson. Then he needed a base. This was found at FORD aerodrome where his landlord was - the Ford Motor Company. And they, you might like to know, had no influence in the naming of the aerodrome. The company did, for a short period, attempt to launch their tri-motor airliner - without much if any success.

"Then we had to find landing-grounds all over the country, get permission to use them, get them approved by the Ministry, and work out the pattern of our tour. This was an extremely complex task. Here and there an established aerodrome could be used; very occasionally something like a playing-field or a park or common was available. Mostly it had to be farm-land, and the great problem here was that until June or later, the farmers wanted their fields of hay to be left undisturbed. In addition to this, no field was any use to us unless it provided clear approaches, was reasonably close to the local town and accessible to the public, and could be securely fenced and screened in so as to keep out intruders."

"The scale of the operation was enormous. We planned to visit 170 places during our 1932 season and we did in fact visit 168: our cumbrous ground organisation - with lorries carrying screens and spares and personal baggage and much else - meant that there could not be much more than sixty miles between each one and the next, and this imposed serious limitations upon the overall planning. Then there was the problem of fuel supply. I could no longer ask Shell to provide the petrol, as before, since they had gone into lubrication and would want me to use their oil as well, and I could hardly abandon Castrol, which was the product of my old patron Sir Charles Wakefield. National Benzole provided the answer, efficiently and on good terms."

" The petty problems were uncountable. We had to print programmes: a million of them, at sixpence and later a shilling, provided us with a useful source of income, especially since they carried some advertising. We had to have spares, and in return for publicity I managed to get these for nothing. We had to feed our people, and this meant a marquee and a kitchen truck; we had to worry about tickets, gate-money, entertainment tax, banking, accountancy, car-parking, a thousand things."

GETTING IT UNDERWAY
"It was all fixed up by late January, and great credit is due to Eskell and Rossiter for the skill and determination they showed in planning the tour and finding suitable fields. My own tasks - primarily those of buying aircraft, engaging staff, and generally planning and promoting the whole operation - were relatively simple."

"Slowly our fleet assembled, and a motley fleet it was. The aircraft types we used for joy-riding and display, during the three seasons in Great Britain ranged from the Handley Page W.10 (which we billed, excitingly, as 'The Giant Airliner') down to the little BAC.VII two-seat glider. Our intermediate types included the Ferry outstandingly, then the Moth (including the Gipsy and Tiger developments), the faithful old Avro 504K and its Tutor and Cadet stablemates, the Desoutter 1 three-seater, the Comper Swift, the Southern Martlet, the Cierva C.19 Aurogiro, the Handley Page Clive (another giant) and the tiny Planette or Drone, which was another baby - hardly more than a powered glider."

"To handle all these varied machines, I was fortunate enough to secure ground engineers with the necessary versatility, and also a remarkable team of pilots - H.C. Johnson above all, and Tommy Nash and Freddie Kent and C. Turner Hughes and H. Rawson and W.A. Rollason and others, not forgetting that most intrepid of wing-walkers, Martin Hearn." 

A CONCRETE PLAN
Without any doubt, for the purposes of this 'Guide', this must be included. It certainly changed the 'picture' the public had of aviation, and more influential people. And several others jumped on the 'bandwagon' soon after, with their own 'copycat' tours. "I wanted to bring aviation to the people, to establish National Aviation Day as an institution, and so to make the country air-minded for the purposes of peace and (if necessary) of war. But in particular, I wanted to get a million signatures to what I called my Mandate. This document had been jointly compiled by eleven leading aeronautical organisations and was essentially a call to the government, an urgent plea for more energetic development of aviation. With a million signatures, I felt, it ought to carry some political weight." 

"So I knew exactly what it was that I wanted to do when I assembled my fleet and my team at Hanworth on 12 April 1932."


CAN YOU IMAGINE THE IMPACT?
Nothing like it had ever been seen before. At least in a local way. Yes, there had been travelling air displays, usually offering mostly joy-riding opportunities, but nothing on this scale. As Alan Cobham tells us: "If the present reader of this book was born before 1928 or so, it's more than likely he had his first real contact with aviation - and perhaps his first flight - at some celebration of National Aviation Day in his own neighbourhood. Perhaps he was a small boy at the time and remembers the excitement of it: the advance publicity, the local advertising, the banner that we strung up across his local High Street, the posters everywhere which showed me in my flying helmet and invited him to FLY WITH ALAN COBHAM, the arrow-shaped signs saying 'To the Air Display' which we had fixed to countless trees and walls and buildings; the field to which they guided him, screened and fenced overnight into an aerodrome; the crowds, the marquees, the parked cars, the loud-speakers; the general feeling of a great occasion."  

"And then the show itself: he will remember the thunderously impressive parade or fly-past of our fleet, with each aircraft showing its paces before the crowd - the 'Giant Airliner, the Ferry, the Moths, the Avros, the astonishing Autogiro - and then the display, a whole afternoon of aerobatics, inverted flying, racing round pylons, wing-walking, and turns and tricks of every description. And if he had five shillings in his pocket and had managed to calm his mother's anxieties or escape her control, the most intense of all the afternoon's memories may well have been his first flight."

What is surely equally extraordinary is that after finishing this Tour on the 16th of October 1932, they then embarked for a Tour of South Africa! To keep them busy during the winter months. I'd have thought they all needed a few months to recover - but not a bit it seems - the tour of South Africa being just as frenetic as their UK tour. The 1933 season Tour lasted from the 14th April until the 8th October - a bigger affair with the Tour splitting into two Tours roughly half way through.

In 1934 they operated one Tour lasting from the 14th April until the 30th September. The 1935 Tour was the last of the National Aviation Day displays. A single Tour lasted from the 12th April until the 30th June, then it once again split into two Tours on the 1st July until the 29th December. It is estimated that between three and four million people came to see these displays over the four years. Probably a severe underestimate if Cobham is to believed correct in claiming that they carried 990,000 passengers for joy-rides. As they were issuing tickets - presumably this is accurate? 

One aspect of the joy-riding operation must be mentioned. If enough passengers still wanted to fly, they continued into the night. It is said that they employed the fuel tanker to light up the landing area, as that had the most powerful headlamps.


HOW IT WAS ACHIEVED
As Cobham relates:  "It was an extraordinary life that we all led together, in some ways like the life of a gipsy tribe, in others like the life of a regiment on active service. Consider the daily routine of those whose task it was to prepare the field for the next days operation. By the summer of 1933 I had them sleeping in trucks, eight or nine men with their own cook. Their day began late in the evening, perhaps at nine, as soon as Eskell had decided that no more gate-money would be coming in. Within an hour of his word the screening would all have been taken down and packed on to the trucks, and by midnight they would arrive at the new field and have a cup of tea and get to sleep."

"They would be up at eight in the morning for a big breakfast; and by noon the new field would be ready fpr action, fenced and screened and with tents and toilets all prepared. When all this was done to Eskell's satisfaction, they had an ample lunch and could then rest until it was time to wake up for a late tea and a fresh start." Having worked for nigh on thirty years on exhibitions, conferences, and film sets, often in similar conditions regarding working hours, I cannot imagine how hard this regime was, lasting with barely a break for months on end. By heck they were tough.

A similar routine applied to the engineers, except that Cobham provided them with 'batmen' which greatly improved their morale, and status to some extent. "They slept in tents, and had to be up at about six every morning to do their daily maintenance work, which would be completed by about nine, with every aircraft duly passed out by the Chief Inspectors. Then, after breakfast, all the engineers would take off with the various pilots for the new day's field, leaving their tents and baggage in the hands of the batmen, who followed by truck and had a new camp ready by mid afternoon."

"The pilots invariably slept in local hotels - not because they were the aristocracy of the show, but because it was necessary for safety's sake that they should be thoroughly rested. As for me, I usually slept on site, in a caravan that I shared with my Chief Pilot Johnson; this was towed behind a single-decker bus, which we had bought for £25 and partioned into two parts, one to serve as a bathroom and the other as a kitchen and cocktail bar." So, not exactly slumming it. And why not.


ADVANCE PLANNING 
As Cobham so rightly tells us: "All this teamwork and all these arrangements would have come to little or nothing if it had been for the extensive preperations made in advance. Each season's tour had to be planned in detail long beforehand: fields had to be chosen, farmer's consent obtained, and Air Ministry approval secured in every single case; and when all this had been done, there still remained the task of getting local publicity. For this purpose we established a routine which worked very well and needed only slight modification as time went on. Castlemaine was the driving force behind it. About twelve weeks before we were to visit some particular town, he would write to the Mayor and other municipal officials and also to the press, telling them that their turn for National Aviation Day was coming, and giving them the whole story."

"Some six weks later Rossiter would follow this up with a personal visit and make the first arrangements for advance publicity, for bill-posting and advertising space and press features and street banners. All these matters would be clinched by a visit by Castlemaine about three weeks before the appointed day: Ten days later the banners and posters would all have to be in place."

But here is a detail not normally known about. "The final touch was provided by the 'arrowman'. We had hundreds of those arrow-shaped signs saying ;'To the Air Display', since the field to which they had to be guided was often an out-of-the-way one. The arrow-man had to be up at the crack of dawn so as to get them all in place by nine or so, and at five in the afternoon he had to start takng them all down for shipment to the next day's site." 


THE OVERALL SCHEME
"Every stage in this operation had to be reported in detail to all parties concerned, and co-ordinated from beginning to end at my London office, where an organizational chart some ten feet long showed exactly what was happening and where everybody was and where they would be at any future moment."

As Cobham says: "When I look back, I am amazed at the scale intricacy of what we managed to do, and without the computers that would now be deemed necessary for such a task. It must be remembered that we visited a great many different places, usually on a twenty-four hour basis, and that they were scattered up and down the United Kingdom and Ireland."

"On any particular day while the season was in ful swing, one particular town's display would be actually taking place, but something like seventy other displays would be at different stages of active preperation; and let it also be remembered that when we split the show in two - during the 1933 season and the second part of the 1935 season - all this organizational and promotional work was doubled."

As Cobham later admits, "I don't know how we did it."  


A GARDEN PARTY

On the 19th June 1932 the Royal Aero’ Society’s Aerial Garden Party was held here. Apparently the cost of admission was 5/- which included tea and a ten minute flight.

The Graf Zeppelin at HANWORTH
The Graf Zeppelin at HANWORTH



Note:  This picture was scanned from 'THE STORY OF AIRCRAFT' by David Charles, published in 1974. As far as I can remember, this is the only picture I have seen of the 'Graf Zeppelin' at HANWORTH.







 

2nd July 1932, the giant ‘Graf Zeppelin’ airship D-LZ 127 ‘landed’ or ‘docked’ here before undertaking a tour of the UK via Portsmouth, north to Stranrear and the Mull of Galloway, then the Isle of Man, Liverpool and Birmingham before returning to HANWORTH. An account on Wikipedia states the ‘Graf Zeppelin’ first landed here on the 18th August 1931 and returned the next year on the 2nd July after having completed a tour of the UK. On the 3rd July it conducted paid flights over London.
 

 

1933 - BERT HINKLER
On the 7th January 1933 the by then very famous Australian pilot ‘Bert’ Hinkler took-off from ‘Feltham’ aerodrome in his DH80A Puss Moth CF-APK to attempt his second attempt at a London - Australia record. He crashed in the Tuscan mountains in Italy and, it appears, it took a while before the crash site was discovered. Very sadly it seems that he survived the "crash" but died of exposure waiting to be rescued. It appears that Mussolini declared his funeral be accorded full civil and military honours.

Back in 1928 flying the Avro Avian G-EBOV he’d become the first solo pilot to achieve this, taking off on the 7th February, from CROYDON and landing in Darwin on the 22nd. Reducing the record from 28 days to 15, a phenomenal achievement. I still can’t understand why the name of ‘Bert’ Hinkler isn’t better known in the UK today? He really does deserve to be very high up in the ‘Hall Of Aviation Fame”.

It appears that on the 8th December 1931 Bert Hinkler landed here in his Puss Moth CF-APK having completed one of the most astonishing ever series of flights. However, did he land originally at CROYDON or possibly LYMPNE to clear Customs?  For this flight he was awarded the Seagrave Trophy, the Johnston Memorial Trophy and the Britannia Trophy for having completed the most meritorious flight that year. He took off from Canada, (a pretty big place I reckon…so from where?), and flew to New York. Then non-stop to Jamaica, (a remarkable feat in those days), and from there to Venezuala, Guyana and Brazil. He then completed the first ever solo flight across the South Atlantic to West Africa, (another pretty big place in my estimation - so where exacty did he land?)), this being the second solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean, (Charles Lindbergh making the first solo in 1927), before flying on to London.
 


1934
In 1934 the British Klemm Aeroplane Company set up shop to build and sell the Klemm L.25 Swallow of which 28 were produced. To quicken production to meet demand they redesigned the L.25 making it more angular, (about the same time the company was renamed the British Aircraft Manufacturing Company), and this became the Swallow 2 of which 105 were built before WW2 which forced the cessation of production. In 2008 two flying examples remained in the UK, G-ADPS and G-AFGE and another two which could be made airworthy exist in the UK plus another three still flying overseas.
 


1935
In or around 1935 Mr Bernard Collins flew a ‘dragon-painted’ BAC Drone from here. He got about too - being a frequent visitor to the newly opened SOUTHEND MUNICIPAL AIRPORT.
 


1936
On the 7th February 1936 David Llewellyn departed from here to deliver the Aeronca C-3 G-AEAC, to Johannesburg, South Africa. Yet another astonishing feat in this remarkable decade. He arrived safely on the 1st March. On the same day Tommy Rose took off from LYMPNE (KENT) to fly to Cape Town in a Miles Falcon Six, but made it in three days 17.5 hours. A clear indication of the performance difference between the two types although pilotng and planning abilities must obviously be taken into account as well.


Notes:
This seems an opportune moment to relate how so many owner/pilots working on a limited financial budget were killed for various reasons, (mainly lack of flying expertise and general flying experience?), in this era. For example, take the case of W L Lewis a young flyer from Richmond who had acquired the Avion SCAL FB.309 Bassou built in France in 1935 and registered F-APDT. Imported to the UK in 1937 and re-registered as G-AFCD this wooden two-seat pusher spun in from 100 feet with fatal results.



1937
In 1937 HANWORTH was the starting point for an Air Race to the Isle of Man. One aircraft, a Percival Vega Gull flown by the highly experienced Sydney W Sparkes clipped the roof of a house, (why?), on the airfield boundary and crashed, bursting into flames killing both Sparkes and “a passenger”. I mention this simply because as a pilot I often like to think I was born into the wrong era regarding flying and just love the idea of almost open skies around most of the world. But, perhaps, I shouldn’t have brought those cut price rose tinted spectacles after all? The GA fatal accident rate in the inter-war years seems pretty appalling - nowhere as bad as the RAF of course - but would I, in reality and even if giving the opportunity to learn to fly, have preferred to plant my clogs on terra firma and keep them there?

There is, I think, another fascinating aspect relating to the career of Sydney W Sparkes just mentioned above. A former Sgt/Instructor at No.5 FTS at SEALAND in CHESHIRE, he became the first volunteer instructor to the Liverpool & District Aero Club based at HOOTON PARK also in CHESHIRE, when it was formed in 1928. Now then, here’s the bit I find so very interesting; it appears that when the L&DAC was formed in 1928 it was only one of just six flying clubs in the entire UK! Can this really betrue? It seems hard to believe doesn’t it?
 


FURTHER NOTES
In the March 2008 edition of Light Aviation magazine an article by Charlie Huke who owns and flies the B.A. Swallow II G-AFGE, built here in 1937, (and hopefully he still does?), revealed a little known aspect of WW2 history. He had the logbooks to prove it too! As gliders such as the Airspeed Horsa were being developed to take a significant place in the invasion of Europe almost nothing was known about how to tow large gliders and the BA Swallow with it’s 43 foot wingspan, (the Horsa wingspan was 88ft), seemed the best compromise. With their propellers removed various towing arrangements were experimented with culminating in four Swallows being towed behind Handley Page Heyfords and Armstrong-Whitworth Whitleys. Unfortunately for me at least, not mentioning where these trials took place? In 2008 I noticed that a replica Airspeed Horsa was nearing completion at RAF SHAWBURY.

This is something I have noticed many times in my research, and especially so in the 1930s; and that is that quite often well known aerodromes were known by at least two names. For example a mention in the 1939 Reading Aero Club airfield guide refers to FELTHAM aerodrome. Surely this must be here? If I am correct in this assumption - then why?

 


 
 

John Wimsett

This comment was written on: 2016-02-08 14:34:36
 
What a fascinating past Hanworth Air Park had. I have lived in Hanworth for 60yrs and never knew it had so much history attached to it.

 
Reply from Dick Flute:
Hi John, Many thanks indeed. Your response is exactly what I had hoped for - to enable people to discover the amazing history and heritage we have in the UK. My best regards, Dick
 

 
 

Pauline

This comment was written on: 2016-05-22 06:50:43
 
Hello, My Uncle Ken Mason wrote a lot about Hanworth Air Park and I have some Aviation magazines with his work published in if this would be useful to you.

 
Reply from Dick Flute:
Hi Pauline, Many thanks indeed. Hanworth has, I think, been somewhat overlooked since WW2. I am not quite sure how to progress this. Can you for example, scan these articles and e-mail them to me? My best regards, Dick
 

 
 

David Lawrie

This comment was written on: 2017-03-16 18:39:08
 
Hi Dick I'm a historical researcher with the Environment Trust for Richmond and in conjunction with Hounslow Local Studies, Feltham History Group and London Borough of Hounslow we are drawing up plans to celebrate the history of Hanworth Air Park. Our aim initially is to create a "pop-up" exhibition to generate more local interest and see how we can progress from there. It is 85 years since the 2nd visit of the Graf Zeppelin and approx 100 years since J A Whitehead created the airfield - so a good time to spark some interest. Also, Hanworth Park House, where the NFC was based in the 1930's, is the subject of a planning application to convert it into luxury apartments. We are hoping to work with the developer to restore the House to some of its former glory and to celebrate its heritage. Please feel free to pass on my email to your previous respondents Pauline and John - I'd love to hear from them and get them involved! Same goes for anyone else who is interested! I've got copies of the articles that Pauline refers to - an excellent potted history of the aerodrome and some great photographs too.

 
 

stewart goldsmith

This comment was written on: 2017-11-21 21:33:35
 
Hi i found this article fascinating i grew up playing on the air park and in the then derelict hangars i now live in suffolk and miss Hanworth and the air park very much i have gathered up pictures and snipits of info from all over and would be happy to share info with any one,when will the exhibition be taking place? i would love to see it regards stewart

 
Reply from Dick Flute:
Hi Stewart. Many thanks for the memories. As far as I am aware no exhibition is planned to celebrate the history of Hanworth Air Park - but it certainly should be. My best regards, Dick
 

 
 

RICHARD GRIFFITHS

This comment was written on: 2018-01-02 14:28:56
 
Hi I have just come across this site and I am a local resident by Hanworth Air Park . I am party of the friends of Hanworth Park House which was once the historic HQ of flying clubs for the UK with national historic events. My self and the community team which was set up 4 months ago have teamed up together with the owner Gary Cottle to get Hounslow Council to approve a restoration and plan . The house and site has been in the media a lot lately which is down to us as we are working hard to get this Airpark back in to its glory day use by the community. The reason I found this site is because the team is meeting David Lawrie who made a comment above. We are meeting him the environment trust on how we can involve the trust for the future of this site before it’s lost forever . Since David’s post a lot has happened and we would love to do a showcase in 2018 at Hanworth Park House to celebrate the war efforts and aviation. Please email me if you wish to know more .

 
 

Nigel Clark

This comment was written on: 2018-01-02 20:59:25
 
utterly fascinating

 
 

Terry Clark

This comment was written on: 2018-01-10 05:42:46
 
In spite of the small size of the airfield, GAL built and flew the prototype Universal Freighter here in the early '50s, development and production then being taken over by Blackburns and it became the Beverley freighter which served as the RAFs 'heavy lift' freighter until about 1968 or 9. After flying ceased, Aston Martin cars used the hangars before moivng to Newport Pagnell, followed by 'GP Speed Shop' who built 'beach buggies'( based on VW Beetle chassis) here in the late '60s.

 
 

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs

This comment was written on: 2018-06-07 22:45:51
 
It might have been possible to take off and land the GAL Universal at Hanworth as Terry Clark suggests - but my understanding is that the aircraft was dismantled and moved to Brough for its maiden flight.

 
 

katy cox

This comment was written on: 2018-12-05 13:13:03
 
Hello, firstly Hanworth is sometimes referred to as Feltham because some of the the aircraft factories\hangars were just over the border of Hanworth in Feltham. Today Hanworth's postal town is Feltham and Hanworth is sometimes left out of an address by those who don't know the area! As part of the history research group for Hanworth Park House\Aerodrome I am at the moment writing a short article on No 5 E & RFTS at Hanworth.
 

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