RAF Fairlop

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RAF Fairlop

Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Airport typeMilitary
OwnerAir Ministry
OperatorRoyal Air Force
LocationFairlop, London
In use1941-1945
Elevation AMSL89 ft / 27 m
Coordinates51°35′16″N 000°06′10″E / 51.58778°N 0.10278°E / 51.58778; 0.10278Coordinates: 51°35′16″N 000°06′10″E / 51.58778°N 0.10278°E / 51.58778; 0.10278
RAF Fairlop is located in Greater London
RAF Fairlop
RAF Fairlop
Location in London
Direction Length Surface
ft m
02/20 3,300 1,006 Concrete
06/24 1,600 1,465 Concrete & Asphalt
11/29 3,300 1,006 Concrete

Royal Air Force Station Fairlop or more simply RAF Fairlop was a Royal Air Force station situated near Ilford in Essex. Fairlop is now a district in the London Borough of Redbridge, England.


First World War[edit]

A site to the east of RAF Fairlop called "Hainault Farm" was used during the First World War, and saw service as a Royal Air Force Home Defence Flight Station.

A number of airmen died at Fairlop during and shortly after the war. In 1919, Sergeant Russe J. Cound was killed and Captain Starbuck seriously injured when their plane stalled and crashed from a height of 200 feet.[1]

Between the wars[edit]

A small flying club used another nearby site between the wars and there were plans to build a commercial airport in the Fairlop area for London,[2] but those plans were later abandoned due to the realization that smog and haze from the residential and industrial areas nearby would be a hazard to operations. A further three sites just to the north of Fairlop and Hainault Farm were used as civilian aerodromes mid-war (see "Fields of the First", by Paul A Doyle, 1997).

Second World War[edit]

The airfield at Fairlop was built in late 1940 when three concrete runways in an "A" pattern tilted 45 degrees anti-clockwise were constructed. The airfield became operational in September 1941 with the arrival of No. 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron RAF, flying Supermarine Spitfires, previously stationed at RAF Hornchurch. The adjacent Hainault Lodge was used as officer accommodation. In June 1944 RAF Fairlop became home to No. 24 Balloon Centre with four squadrons forming part of the balloon barrage around London. The balloons were manned by members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force. No 24 Balloon Centre was disbanded in February 1945 and the airfield closed in August 1946.[citation needed]

After the wars[edit]

In 1947, plans we revived to build a commercial airport at Fairlop. At the time, it was reported that Fairlop could become the "No. 1 continental airport",[3] but again the plans fell through.[4] By 1950, the airfield was disused.[5]

It is believed that the site was one of the first RAF airfields to trial underground hangars (the remains of one of which could be seen on the east side of Feltwell, Norfolk up to the 1970s) but no trace of any such works have been located at Fairlop.[citation needed]


Squadrons stationed at RAF Fairlop:[6][7][8]

Current use[edit]

The site was used for gravel extraction and became a country park known as Fairlop Waters with sailing facilities and a golf course.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Aerodrome Fatality". Chelmsford Chronicle. 17 January 1919.
  2. ^ Ward, Charles (22 December 1937). "Plans For Future Air Travel". The Bystander.
  3. ^ "Big civil airport". Essex Newsman. 27 June 1947.
  4. ^ "To put it briefly". Western Daily Press. 13 December 1947.
  5. ^ "Model aircraft enthusiasts". Essex Newsman. 15 August 1950.
  6. ^ Jefford 1988, p. 00.
  7. ^ Halpenny 1993, p. 92.
  8. ^ Halpenny 1993, p. 93.


  • Halpenny, B, B. Action Stations: Military Airfields of Greater London v. 8.Patrick Stephens Ltd, 1993. ISBN 1-85260-431-X.
  • Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Doyle, P, A. Fields of the First: a history of aircraft landing grounds in Essex used during the First World War. Forward Airfield Research Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-95256-241-3.

External links[edit]