North Weald Airfield

North Weald Airfield
North Weald Airfield
IATA: noneICAO: EGSX
Summary
Airport type Private
Operator Epping Forest District Council
Location North Weald
Elevation AMSL 321 ft / 98 m
Coordinates 51°43′18″N 000°09′15″E / 51.72167°N 0.15417°E / 51.72167; 0.15417Coordinates: 51°43′18″N 000°09′15″E / 51.72167°N 0.15417°E / 51.72167; 0.15417
Map
EGSX is located in Essex
EGSX
Location in Essex
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
02/20 6,332 1,930 Asphalt
13/31 3,005 916 Asphalt
Aircraft Exhibit at North Weald Airfield

North Weald Airfield (ICAO: EGSX) is an operational airfield, near the village of North Weald Bassett in Epping Forest, Essex, England. It was an important fighter station during the Battle of Britain, when it was known as the RAF Station RAF North Weald. It is the home of North Weald Airfield Museum. Although unlicensed it is home to many private aircraft and historic types, and is host to a wide range of events throughout the year, including the Air-Britain Classic Fly-in and smaller airshows.

Contents

History

North Weald fighter base was founded in the summer of 1916 during the First World War by the Royal Flying Corps. Its military functions continued to develop during the interwar period, with the building of large hangars and accommodation for Royal Air Force (RAF) personnel. The airfield played an important part in the air defence strategy of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Initially Hawker Hurricanes were deployed at the airfield, alongside Bristol Blenheim night fighters. The Hurricanes from North Weald saw action over the beaches of Dunkirk and played a key role in the Battle of Britain. In 1940, two American Eagle Squadrons moved into North Weald supplied with Spitfires. A couple of years later, Norwegian squadrons were re-assigned to the airfield. Jet fighter squadrons were based at North Weald from 1949 and the sight of Gloster Meteors and de Havilland Vampire fighters in the west Essex skies was commonplace.

The last front line combat unit, No. 111 Squadron RAF flying Hawker Hunters, the famous Black Arrows of 22 loop formation fame, left North Weald in 1958. And, in 1964, the RAF withdrew from the airfield completely. The airfield spent time in both British Army and Royal Navy hands for a short time until in 1979 North Weald became surplus to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) operational requirements and was sold to Epping Forest District Council, who still own the airfield.

Today

One of the original 1927 hangars still remains as does the former Officers Mess, which has now been given Grade 2 listed building status. Some former married quarters, now in private ownership and dating from the early 1970s, can still be seen in Lancaster Road and York Road.

The airfield continues to be active with vintage and veteran aircraft such as the Spitfire, Mustang, Kittyhawk, Dakota, Skyraider, Seafire and Harvard based there. In addition, North Weald has become home to early military jets such as the Hunter, Venom, Vampire, Gnat, Jet Provost and others alongside modern civilian aircraft. Resident organizations include Area 51, Hangar 11 Collection, Aces High, and Kennet Aviation.

The airfield was granted listed status in 2005.[1]

There is a large Saturday market based on the airfield which draws huge crowds from around Essex and North London. Bus service 522 operates a frequent service to the market from Harlow, and the service is subsidised by the company which owns the market.

The airfield was used as the transit camp for the 2007 World Scout Jamboree.

The Squadron is a private, members-only club based in the old officers mess for friends of the airfield, aviators and aircraft enthusiasts.

North Weald Airfield has a volunteer fire service called North Weald Fire Rescue

In the 1990s, the Aces High hangar was used as the home for The Crystal Maze, which had moved from Shepperton Studios because of lack of space.

North Weald Airfield Museum

The focus of the North Weald Airfield Museum is the people who worked at RAF North Weald in World War I and World War II, including both service personnel and civilians. Exhibits include photographs, personal memories, and artifacts about the airfield's history, including its role in the Battle of Britain, the American and Norwegian squadrons stationed there in World War II, and the Royal Air Force squadrons stationed there over the years. The museum is located in the former RAF North Weald Station Office. Visitors can examine military vehicles and historic aircraft.

RAF North Weald Memorial

The RAF North Weald Memorial is dedicated to all who served at North Weald. Located near the airfield's main gate, the memorial was dedicated in 2000.[2] The memorial includes an obelisk erected in 1952 by the people of Norway in commemoration of the Norwegian airmen stationed at the airfield in World War II.

Development controversy

The East of England Regional Assembly on its Draft Regional Spatial Strategy for the East of England examination in public exercise asked members of the public for comment on the possibility of the airfield location being used as the site for a development plan for 6,000 houses. It received over 6800 objections and followed on strong lobbying against the project by local residents.[3]

Accidents and incidents

Three people were killed in a mid-air collision in 2000.[4] The AAIB report [5] concluded that 'The collision occurred because the pilots of both aircraft did not see the other aircraft in sufficient time to take effective avoiding action'.

The BBC reported that a light aircraft had crashed into a car at the airfield on Sunday, 9 May 2010.[6] Police were called and the ambulance service "assisted the pilot". The aircraft had burst into flames a few seconds after colliding with the motor vehicle. The North Weald Airfield volunteer fire crews blanketed the area with foam before Essex Fire Service arrived. The two people in the Volvo into which the aircraft had impacted were not injured and they pulled the pilot free from the plane, which had collided with their car after what appeared to be a second landing attempt. In fact the pilot had initiated a go-around after aborting the landing attempt due to turbulence, and had then lost full directional control of the aircraft. The accident occurred whilst the pilot attempted to avoid a collision with tall trees and a potential crash on top of parked aircraft, having by then only very limited control of the aircraft. The report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch into the cause was not wholly conclusive due to the extent of the impact and the subsequent fire damage and as such stated that "a pre-impact anomaly could not be entirely excluded".[7]

See also

Media related to North Weald Airfield at Wikimedia Commons

References

External links


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