Category:Heston Aerodrome

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  Heston Aerodrome  coordinates: 51.48734410103954, -0.39866738595550255

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  Grade II*   "Listing" number 1393114

Heston Air Park (later: Heston Airport) was created in the late 1920s by air enthusiasts Nigel Norman and Alan Muntz. Personally aware of the rapid growth of aviation for both leisure and business, and of the fact that existing aerodrome development seemed to be slightly haphazard, the pair created Airwork Ltd. and bought up a significant amount of land around Heston Village to create a single site with full services and amenities for the flyer, all in one place. The air park opened in 1929.


The site had its own Customs office, a radio shack broadcasting weather forecasts, and facilities for servicing, refuelling, aircraft hire, flying lessons and hangarage, and for humans, there was a restaurant and hotel.


Heston went out of its way to emphasise that the whole concept was designed for the enjoyment and convenience of the flyer, to the extent that the whole site was laid out to appear from the air as the outline of an aircraft – the buildings were carefully laid out to produce the outline of a chevron representing a pair of aeroplane wings with the main building centre front, ahead of this was a triangular apron representing the aircraft nose, and the service road that met the complex from the rear represented the aircraft fuselage. Although the service-road "fuselage" looks a bit skinny, early sketches show two lines of circles alongside the road, suggesting that perhaps the initial idea was to have the service road lined by trees on either side, bulking out its visual appearance from the air.

The outline had multiple benefits: it was a shape that was easy to spot form the air (especially to aviators!) it's alignment confirmed to aviators the direction of North (it pointed North), and, just to show the extreme lengths that the designers had gone to to add every feature they could think of, the nose of the "aeroplane" included a horizontal upward-pointing sixteen-foot clockface, allowing flyers to see the time and correct their timepieces from the air.

Anyone trying to land at Heston would feel a happy moment as they recognised the aircraft outline, and understood that this was a place designed for people who liked aeroplanes, and (since the outline was only visible from the air) exclusively for people who liked aeroplanes.

1931 commentary:


ONE of the airports about whom we hear very little is Heston. In a way, it seems a pity that they do not make more song about their achievements, because this lack of publicity tends to make people think that not very much has been or is being done, though actually, of course, very much the reverse is the case.

It might be well, at this stage, to look back and see what enormous development there really has been since Heston Air Park was first started in April, 1929. Eighteen months later, in September last year, that is, we find that they have already flown 3,209 hours on instructional work; seventy-four "A" licences have been obtained: a Customs House has been built with a resident Custom Officer who has cleared some 416 aircraft on their way to the continent. They have installed a complete wireless outfit which at a later date it is hoped to operate as an intermediate meteorological station, and this set, incidentally, is the first one to be installed in a privately-owned aerodrome.

On the east side of the administrative buildings and club-house there is now the large all-concrete Jackaman hangar and then three further hangars built by William Bain which are divided into private lock-ups, the majority of which are already full and which house among other things, over 20 privately-owned Puss Moths. On the west side there are the commercial showrooms — of Henlys, where Avians are demonstrated; Brain Lewis and C. D, Barnard, where anything from Hannibal to the Hobo may be bought; and finally, Auto Auctions, who specialise in Bluebirds. Beyond them, again, is the new Lamella type semi-circular hangar which is one of the first to be built in this country by the Horseley Bridge & Engineering Co. Ltd., on the Junkers Lamellendach patent system. The aerodrome itself, it will be remembered, was prepared by Hunters of Chester, and therefore little need be said about its excellence.

From the very start they have at Heston engendered the right sort of feeling, and have gradually drawn unto themselves a clientele, all of whom are "flat-out" for flying. There is no doubt, that Heston Air Park has really fulfilled a want since at Croydon privately-owned aircraft are not only not wanted, but are definitely discouraged in many ways, but for this class of flying there is always a welcome waiting at Heston, and before very long, we imagine that privately-owned aircraft whether they are clearing customs for a continental trip or merely proceeding to the north, will always do so from Heston in preference to Croydon. No efforts have been spared by Messrs. Norman & Muntz who are responsible for Heston and its developments, and among their very latest schemes is the formation of service depots in other parts of the country. The first of these is now in operation at Bristol Airport where repair and maintenance can be undertaken.

— , -, , Flight, , 6th February 1931



EVERYONE who is in the least interested or remotely associated with flying, and particularly private flying, knows or has heard of Heston Air Park. It is safe to say that it is as well known as the terminal aerodrome at Croydon. Yet it is only about two years ago that this extremely busy centre of civil aviation consisted of a stretch of neglected grassland and a series of odd-sized fields.

The fact that it has thus grown so phenomenally serves as an excellent indication of how rapidly civilian flying is advancing, and furthermore, it shows what happens when people with a long view of the development of air travel really "get down to it."

It was in 1929 that Mr. Nigel Norman with Mr. Alan Muntz realised the necessity of another aerodrome near London, and they chose their site at Heston, near Hounslow, Middlesex, as the spot coming nearest to their ideal. No doubt, a great many people at that time, as the laying out of the new establishment progressed, were sceptical of its probable utility, for then as now, private aviation was regarded as a movement still very much in its infancy and with an uncertain future. A visit to the Air Park to-day would prove how very wide of the mark their earlier estimates and prophesies were.

There they will find no empty buildings, deserted "tarmac" and atmosphere of listless, enforced inactivity. Heston at all times is a real hive of industry. The tarmac – or to use the more up-to-date parlance, apron – is choc-a-bloc with aircraft; with 'planes arriving and departing, and being tested and demonstrated and being – well, just flown.

Modernity and efficiency are the salient characteristics of the place. One can see at once that it has been planned. The entrance and roadways are of concrete – clean, dry and smooth, and the two main hangars which are of the are very latest construction and design are also constructed of concrete, as is the extensive apron which is laid out along the entire frontage of the main building group. Additional accommodation is provided by steel hangars with lock-ups for craft with folding wings. Then there is the club-house – no crude wooden pavilion affair – but, a well designed, well-built and perfectly equipped and furnished building. Both the Household Brigade Flying Club and the Stock Exchange Flying Club have their headquarters there.

This clubhouse, by the way, is quite unique for in addition to a capacious lounge, and restaurant, it also incorporates a control tower – a very useful adjunct at a busy aerodrome. Installed in this tower is a wireless transmitter and receiving set, which with a half kilowatt of power, can be used for telegraphic communication up to a range of about 300 miles. This transmitter has been and is used quite successfully and frequently in connection with the school of flying, so that first soloists and pupils of limited experience can receive advice and instruction from the ground in the early stages of their flying career. The school at Heston is run on highly systemized lines, with Captain J. Baker, M.C., and Messrs. "Biffy" Newman and V. Maloney as instructors, and over 100 members have been passed out as qualified "A" licenced pilots since the aerodrome was first established.

A further feather in the cap of Airwork Ltd., the proprietors of Heston Air Park, is that they have now been allocated a Customs official. Thus, private owners can clear there, and fly direct to the continent without the inconvenience of landing either at Croydon or Lympne in order to go through the usual formalities prior to their departure. The installation of a Customs House, has, of course, resulted in a great increase in cross-channel visitors, and one can often spend an interesting hour or so watching numerous foreign machines arrive. Indeed, at no other centre in England, is it possible to see so wide a variety of light aircraft of British and foreign make.

Naturally, at an aerodrome such as Heston one expects to find service and one is not disappointed; there is a whole hangar given up entirely to the overhauling and repair of aircraft. This department is under the direction of Mr. J. Parkes, and the workshops staff are available for any job, from adjusting tappets to rebuilding a write-off.

Heston Air Park is now firmly established, but Messrs. Muntz and Norman are not resting on their laurels; further developments are in hand. An hotel is being built on the aerodrome for the convenience of visitors from abroad, and the keen public interest in the place has prompted them to open a new public enclosure, with verandah canteen and lounge.

Whenever one calls at Heston there is always something doing, and it is certainly one of the brightest, busiest and most go-ahead centres of private flying in the country.

— , -, , "Motor Sport" magazine, , July 1931


SIR,—In the article entitled "Airmindedness", Neon has overlooked the Civil Air Port, which is different from all the others; I refer to Heston Air Park. It originated as a purely private enterprise, hatched in the brains of two young men. It was officially opened when the King’s Cup race was flown from there in 1930. It has received no official assistance of any kind whatever in the way of subsidy or financial aid. It has now been granted Customs officers, also a wireless broadcasting permit; it is the home of the sport of aviation, the test ground for new machines, the chief flying facilities. Taxi services operate from there, air- craft manufacturers and salesmen display their wares there, scores of private owners garage their planes there; it is, in fact, a healthy and encouraging sight for anyone who doubts the possibility of self-supporting aviation.

Ealing, W.5 M.L.M.

— , M.L.M, , The Saturday Review, , 7th November 1931

King's Cup race

In a pouring rain on July 25, 40 planes took off from Heston Air Park to fly a 982-mile circuit of England in the tenth annual race for the King’s Cup. Twenty-one successfully battled the weather for some twelve hours at average speeds of from 89 to 127 m.p.h. Flying-Officer E. C. T. Edwards, in Sir Robert McAlpine’s Blackburn Bluebird LV was the first to finish and winner of the Cup on handicap, his actual speed 118 m.p.h. over the course. Second came Flight-Lieut. F. G. Gibbons in a Simmonds Spartan at an average speed of 109 m.p.h. while Lieut. Godfrey Rodd brought a D. H. Puss Moth in third in the handicapped race, but took the prize for the fastest actual time, 127.5 m.p.h. average speed. The race was restricted to "amateur" pilots but that included the officers of the Royal Air Force, and the R.A.F. took the first three places and a good share of the other honors.

— , -, , AVIATION, , September, 1931

Postwar developments

With London served primarily by Croydon and Heston (plus some new sites in Essex), Heston became considered an important piece of of the nation's strategic infrastructure, especially with the looming possibility of war, and the Air Ministry purchased the site in 1937 and started compulsorily purchasing surrounding land and demolishing properties through 1939, with the intention to expand the airport.

Further construction of the site was stalled by the outbreak of World War Two, during which time a military airfield was established at Heathrow. With the Heathrow facilities being completed just as the war finished, the desire to make more use of them, and the inertia of ongoing Heathrow development resulted on Heathrow instead being selected as London's new default airport. Since Heston and Heathrow were practically neighbours (sharing Hounslow West as their nearest "Tube" station), it was impractical to have overlapping flightpaths servicing both facilities, and Heston effectively closed.

With the government still owning the land, part of the site was recycled with the building of the M4 motorway, which intersected through the northern part of the site. Some of the intersected part was then used to build the M4's "Heston Services" motorway service station (1967). 1967 also saw the approval of the Heathrow extension of the Piccadilly Line from Hounslow West, connecting Heathrow directly to the London underground network. Together, these two developments made it pretty clear that Heston was not going to come back as an airport.

Almost everything on the site was demolished in 1978, with the exception of the Grade II-listed Heston Hangar. The overall winged shape of the site occupied by the buildings is still present in the industrial estate that was then built on the site.



  • One of the more notable architectural features of Heston Aerodrome was the pair of rectangular pillars set on either side of the road entrance, with a winged "A" on top of each. These were modelled in the Skybirds range as 21A - Decorative Columns , with the top decorations changed into the Skybirds logo.
  • The big hangar at Heston was modelled by Skybirds as "Heston Hangar"'

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Media in category ‘Heston Aerodrome’

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