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London Airport


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Director Unknown
Duration 9min 29sec
Release Date 1949
Sponsor Central Office of Information for Ministry of Civil Aviation
Synopsis The story of a great engineering feat - the building, at Heathrow, of one of the largest airports in the world
Text version of this film


In April 1944 The Great Western Aerodrome started its transformation from a privately owned small grass airfield to Heathrow; by 1946 one of the world's busiest airports.

Requisitioned by the Air Ministry in 1944, the site was officially earmarked as a major transport base for the Royal Air Force (RAF), which would at the end of the war evolve into London's main civil airport replacing Croydon Airport.

However it has been suggested that the official proposal as an RAF base was merely a ruse to circumvent a public inquiry and to quell criticism that the war effort was being diverted to construct a civilian airport which could await the end of hostilities.

The airport opened fully for civilian use on 31 May 1946, but back then London Heathrow International Airport's one terminal was in fact an army surplus tent situated a short walk from the aircraft.

By 1947 Heathrow had three runways with three more under construction. The older runways, built for piston-engine planes were short and criss-crossed to allow flights for all wind conditions, but with advent of the jet engine the runways were redeveloped.

The commercial jet-aircraft such as the De Havilland Comet revolutionised air travel around the world as it became easier and quicker for tourists to go further in quest for chasing the sun.

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