White Waltham Airfield
|White Waltham Airfield|
|IATA: none – ICAO: EGLM|
|Operator||West London Aero Club|
|Location||White Waltham, Berkshire|
|Elevation AMSL||133 ft / 41 m|
|Sources: UK AIP at NATS|
White Waltham Airfield (ICAO: EGLM) is an operational general aviation aerodrome located at White Waltham, 2 nautical miles (3.7 km; 2.3 mi) southwest of Maidenhead, in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire, England. This large grass airfield is best known for its association with the Air Transport Auxiliary from 1940-1945 and also has a significant history of pre-war flying training, war-time and post-war RAF use and post-war use as flight test centre by the Fairey and Westland aircraft companies. It is now privately owned and is the home of the West London Aero Club, the largest flying club in the United Kingdom.
The airfield was set up in 1928 when the de Havilland family bought 196 acres (0.79 km2) of grassland to house the de Havilland Flying School. In 1938 the airfield was taken over by the government, and during the Second World War was the home of the Air Transport Auxiliary between its formation in early 1940 and disbandment on 30 November 1945. The ATA staged a unique Air Display and Air Pageant at White Waltham on 29 September 1945 which was opened by Lord Beaverbrook and featured a memorable static park of Allied and German aircraft and the flying included Alex Henshaw displaying a Seafire Mk45. After the war, the airfield was also used by Fairey Aviation and later Westland Helicopters, which assembled and tested aircraft built at their Hayes factory. These included the Fairey FB-1 Gyrodyne (1947), Fairey Jet Gyrodyne (1954), Fairey Ultralight (1955), Fairey Rotodyne (1957) & Westland Scout (1960) & Westland Wasp (1962). The prototype Fairey Gannet was first flown from Aldermaston but production aircraft were completed and first flown at White Waltham too and an example is currently stored at the airfield.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was taught to fly at White Waltham in 1952, flying a de Havilland Chipmunk belonging to HQ RAF Home Command Communications Squadron (HCCS) of the Royal Air Force (RAF). This squadron was based at the airfield from 1950 until 1959.
Approximately 150 light aircraft are based at the airfield, which with three runways is reportedly the largest grass airfield in civilian use in Europe. The airfield holds Civil Aviation Authority Public Use Aerodrome Licence Number P773, that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flight training.
On 24 June 1989, the Fairey Hangar, on the north side of the airfield, was the venue for one of the largest acid house raves to be held at that time. The Sunrise Midsummer Party was attended by over 11,000 ravers, and attracted about 1,000 vehicles. This caused 3-mile (4.8 km) tailbacks on the approach to the airfield. The Sun newspaper ran a headline "Ecstasy Airport" the next day.
Since the demise of the popular local steam rally at Knowl Hill, about a mile to the NW of the airfield, an annual vintage transport event is now held at White Waltham in August. The home quarters of Carter's Steam Fair are also adjacent to the airfield.
The airfield has been used as a filming location on numerous occasions, perhaps most notably appearing several times in episodes of the popular 1970s ITV series The Professionals. The BBC children's show Come Outside had also been filmed at the airfield with 2 Slingsby Firefly aircraft as the 'spotty plane'.
James May and Top Gear have featured White Waltham within their programmes.
White Waltham Airfield also featured as the fictional Finchmere Airfield in the Midsomer Murders episode "The Flying Club", also using footage from the annual Retrofestival held at White Waltham.
- White Waltham - EGLM
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