Early History at Hendon.

Bleriot's aeroplane at Dover

Hendon’s connections with aviation begin before the formation of the Royal Air Force. It has been a civil aerodrome as well as an RAF Station. Many people have visited it either to watch air displays or during their RAF careers.

In 1909 a local company, Everett & Edgcombe, built an aeroplane. To accommodate it they built a shed in a field at the end of Colindale Avenue. By October 1910 a large area had been cleared and other organisations were using the airfield, including a school founded by Louis Bleriot, the first person to fly an aeroplane across the English Channel.

Grahame-White Insignia

In 1911 Claude Grahame-White bought the land and promoted the site as the London Aerodrome. On 12 May a military flying display was held and in September the first British airmail service was started. Air displays and races were held on most weekends, bringing the new technology to the attention of a wider public. The first Aerial Derby was held in 1912. This race round London started and finished at Hendon and was watched by an estimated 500,000 spectators.

Claude Grahame-WhiteThe Grahame-White Aviation Company began assembling Burgess Baby aircraft in 1910. In 1911 the company produced the New Baby and was also soon building Morane-Saulnier monoplanes under licence. When John D North joined the company in 1913 he began designing aircraft for the company, many of which were used by the Grahame-White flying school and pilots at the many aviation meetings.

The factory grew rapidly during World War One. Orders were received from the Admiralty and the War Office for aircraft. Some of the houses in the area were built to accommodate the workforce for the factories; Aeroville was built by the Grahame-White company to house some of its employees.

An Aircraft Acceptance Park was established to take delivery of aircraft from the many factories in the area, including the Grahame-White works, Handley Page and Airco. In addition many pilots were trained at Hendon for both the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps. Three pilots who trained at Hendon, Mannock, Ball and Warneford, were later awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery in the air.