I first visited Hartfordbridge Flats, as the area was originally known, in 1949, when I lived at Farnborough. I too remember seeing various WWII aircraft on the site and the runway which extended southwards across the A30 resulting in the diversion whilst that road was closed during WWII.
In 1972 I returned when the airport was owned by the redoubtable Doug Arnold, a WWII NCO fighter pilot and who among other things had a collection of - and dealt in- WWII aircaraft. Mithchells, JU-52s, a B-17 Fortress from France, a Mosquito -which went to Kermit Weeks in USA. Others included his MkIV Spitfire, previously the personal plane of AVM Robb; and which was flown magnificently by Niel Williams who had been World Aerobatic Champion. There were the CASA 111s, a Spanish version of the Heinkel, in one of which Neil sadly perished.
Doug fought hard against other interests to develop the airfield which was referred to in a review of future General Aviation in the UK: 'The South-east without Blackbushe would be unthinkable.' Eventually he piled out to elsewhere.
However, on the unused taxiways, he permitted the establishment of a demonstration site for Road Traffic Signs and other Safety devices.
On 25th October 1972 the very first night time veiwing was held of what would become the standard UK Traffic Sign facing medium, only latterly superceded.
The forerunner of the European number-plate format was evolved there too; and our now common-place high visibility garment format was experimented with and developed.
I too remember the aeroplane 'without a propellor', flying out of RAE Farnborough. It was from that aircraft, W4046, that on 30th July 1943 S/Ldr Dougie Davie AFC, became the first person to bail out of a British jet aircraft. Sadly he died flying a Meteor prototype the following January. The first British aviator to lose his life flying a jet aircraft. I met him once, when I was a little boy, and he showed me the complicated flying model that he was constructing. It had a petrol engine (in 1943!!)
A memory shared byon Jun 28th, 2010.
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