Local factory owners Everett and Edgecumbe experimented at Colindale with a plane, nicknamed the Grasshopper, between 1908 and 1910. Sadly the plane never got airborne. In 1910 the Daily Mail newspaper staged a flying race to Manchester. Louis Paulhan, a Frenchman, flew from Colindale and succeeded in winning the competition. It was the first flight from Hendon.
Claude Grahame White built a proper airfield in 1911. It was from Hendon that the first ever airmail was carried in September 1911. The flying displays at the aerodrome attracted lots of people, and 500,000 watched Hendon's first aerial derby in 1912.
Grahame White also opened an aircraft factory. During the First World War the factory employed 3500 workers. After the war Claude Grahame White wanted Hendon to be 'the Charing Cross of our international air routes'.
The War Office commandeered Hendon in November 1916, during World War One. They gradually took over the aerodrome and Grahame White was left with only the flying club in 1925, which became Hendon Police College.
After this Hendon was an airbase of the Royal Air Force. Many who lived in Hendon during the 1920s and 1930s remember the RAF pageants.
Hendon was briefly used during the Battle of Britain (1940) for fighter squadrons, but was manly used for transport activities and flying dignitaries to and from London. The last flying unit, the Metropolitan Communications Squadron, left Hendon in 1957.
The last aircraft to land at Hendon was a Blackburn Beverly in 1968. It was flown in as an exhibit at the new RAF Museum, which was opened in 1972. The RAF left Hendon in 1987.
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