RAF Northolt is a Royal Air Force station located 2 NM (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) east by northeast of Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon, in West London, UK. Approximately 10 km (6.2 mi) north of London Heathrow Airport, it also handles a large number of private civilian flights. RAF Northolt is actually situated in neighbouring South Ruislip; most early RAF airfields were named after the nearest railway station, in this case South Ruislip which at the time of the airfield’s commissioning was called Northolt junction (later Northolt Halt). Opened in May 1915 for aircraft of the Royal Flying Corps, it was an active base for RAF and Polish Air Force squadrons during World War II. On 15 September 1940 during the Battle of Britain, No. 1 Squadron RCAF, No. 229 Squadron RAF, No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron, No. 504 Squadron RAF, and part of No. 264 Squadron RAF were based at the station. All except the No. 264 Squadron portion were flying Hawker Hurricanes; 264 Squadron was operating the Boulton Paul Defiant.

Short Skyvan sn G-BEOL

Soon after World War II, Northolt became a significant civilian airport, being a major base for British European Airways, also being served by Aer Lingus, Scandinavian Airlines System and Swissair. Airline flights ceased on the opening of the central area at Heathrow in 1954. It then wholly reverted to military use.

Communications aircraft of the Royal Canadian Air Force, the United States Air Forces in Europe, the United States Navy, and the French Air Force were based there in the 1950–1980 period. Today, it is an important RAF airfield and the home of No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron RAF. Since about 1980 movements of privately-owned aircraft, mainly corporate jets, have outnumbered military aircraft. When the Fairey Aviation factory was situated in Hayes, Hillingdon, some of the company’s newly-built aircraft’s first flights were from Northolt Aerodrome.

Images present Air Show RAF Northolt 2010

Robert Hodgson