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London Airport

Taken from the production file (catalogue reference: INF 6/992)

Pilot: Hullo, London Tower, this is Trans-Canada Charlie-Fox-Peter- Baker-Dog. Approaching, your field at five thousand feet. Request landing instructions. Over.

Controller: Charlie-Baker-Dog. This is London Tower. Runway number one-zero. Call me "when on final. Over.

Pilot: This is, Charlie-Baker-Dog. Roger. Out.

Commentator: Aircraft coming in from all quarters of the sky, sometimes one every two minutes laden with men and cargoes of all nations make this new port of London one of the new junctions of the world. They call it Heathrow locally.

A few years back it was seven square miles of quiet Middlesex countryside.

It was in April 1944 that history came to these country fields. An airport was required to help finish off the Japanese, an airport for our heavy far-flying aircraft - an immediate need with an eye to the peaceful future. That was the beginning, and the landscape was changed and the past obliterated. Then from the huge cement-mills oceans of concrete like heavy lather poured forth to form the solid runways. Specimens of the concrete ax'e tested to destruction-point in machines which develop a pressure of over fifty tons to the square inch. Now, as the runways stretch forth under the hands of the concreting gangs, the bulldozers, scrapers and grabs run out before them, preparing more ground and digging trenches for the complicated system of drains and cables that lies below the concrete. At the end of 1945, No. 1 runway was complete.

Lord Winster: On this first day of the New Year this proving flight starts off over Heathrow which will be the future civil airport of London and it takes off from the finest runway in the world.

Commentator: On January 1st 1946 with one runway in service and two others near completion, Heathrow officially became London Airport. Thus in under two years British engineers had built and were operating one of the largest civil aerodromes in the world. But those were still pioneer days, and it was time of flux and improvisation. Marquees, caravans and R.A.F. huts were the airline offices, custom sheds and passenger lounges of these days. It was like a circus, but it was also history in the making. The local inhabitants, however, see things from a different angle. To the older ones it must have been strange indeed to see giant aircraft roaring down paths that once they knew as pleasant loitering lanes. Stranger still to see the streams that they had known since childhood turned aside from their old winding courses to the new straight concrete beds, and strange to see the familiar farms swept from the earth as though by a whirlwind. And (surely the unkindest cut of all) few of their pubs may have to go. But for many it has meant changes of a different kind, and a lot have found work on the site, where they will remain until the airfield is finished, for the port is still building.

Each time a pilot comes in from the other side of the world, he sees new changes. From this busy vantage of control towers, offices and hangars, are drawn all the skeins of the web of the world's airways. This port has been found. It has come to stay. Already it provides every scientific facility and every type of information necessary for the safe navigation of the air. But fog and mist, wind and rain - these are the chief hazards of the air. The Met. Office is in touch with weather stations all over the world, but no matter how evil the weather, how thick the sky with fog or cloud or rain, there is still the airport's magic eye which sees the pilot safely to land. Black and blind as it may be up above, safely, surely, they lead him down to the runway.

This now is London's Airport. Out of the sky and into the sky, day and night the travellers come and go. Last year it was four hundred thousand - next year it will be many more. All this requires careful, intricate and precise organisation. Difficult enough under the best conditions - yet here a major air junction is being operated while its buildings and runways are still growing up around it. This building will "continue for perhaps six years yet, for its plans are vast. But in the end, no natter what the future of aircraft may be - Stratocruiser, Brabazon or flying-wing - here will be an airfield second to none, for London Airport is on the map.

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