Heritage Locations

Farnborough Airfield

One of the earliest airfields in Britain, home to the Royal Aircraft Establishment


Period of construction:
1900 - 1949

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

IQ Business Park, Farnborough, Hants GU14 7JP 

GU14 7JP

Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

The site which became RAE Farnborough was first used by the Army Balloon Factory, having moved from nearby Aldershot in 1905. Britain's first Military airship was designed and built at Farnborough in 1907. Samuel Cody, a civilian Kite Instructor with the Balloon Factory, made his famous first powered flight there on 16 October 1908.

As the emphasis moved from balloons to aeroplanes,the Balloon Factory became the Army Aircraft Factory in April 1911. The Royal Flying Corps was set up in 1912 and with it, the first Squadron, No 1 Sq, was formed. Throughout World War 1 the establishment produced and repaired hundreds of aircraft for the RFC. At the end of WW1,the RFC became the Royal Air Force,and the Royal Aircraft Factory was renamed the Royal Aircraft Establishment. This was the starting point of some seventy years of continuous aircraft research and experimental work which made RAE Farnborough world famous.

From 1948 onwards, the annual(later bi-annual) Society of British Aircraft Companies' Air Show was held at Farnborough. The RAE began a gradual rundown of it's presence at Farnborough in the early 1980s, with a civil enclave opened in 1989; this grew as the RAE presence diminished and is now the main source of aircraft movements. The site now mainly comprises the IQ Business Park, but the runway remains operational, managed by TAG Aviation . It remains the home of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and QinetiQ, and also houses the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) Aircraft Museum.


Bowyer, Chaz, History of the RAF, Dolphin, ASIN B000O52SBU (1984)

Chant, Christopher, History of the RAF: From 1939 to the Present, Caxton, ISBN -10 1840671092 (2000)

Cooper, P. J., Farnborough: 100 Years of British Aviation, Midland Publishing, ISBN-10: 185780239X (2006)

Falconer, Jonathan, RAF Bomber Airfields of World War 2, Ian Allan, ISBN 0 7110 2080 9 (1995)

Hamilton-Paterson, James, Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World, Faber and Faber, ISBN-10: 0571247946 (2010)

Ifould, Lloyd, Immortal Era, The Birth of British Civil Aviation, Adanr Press, ASIN B0007K0WXS (1948)

Jones, Barry, British Experimental Turbojet Aircraft, The Crowood Press, ISBN-10: 1861268602 (2006)

Nesbitt, Roy Conyers, RAF: An Illustrated History from 1918, ISBN -10 0750942898 (2007)

Pearcy, Arthur, A Short Illustrated History of the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Bedford, Shrewsbury Airlife Publishing, ISBN-10: 853103608 (1999)

Robertson, Bruce, The RAF, a pictorial history, Hale, ASIN B0015MBVFU (1979)

R.A.E., Farnborough, The Story of RAE, Hale, ASIN: B0032TW3FQ (1980)

Taylor, J. W. R., Pictorial History of the RAF (3 vols), Ian Allan, ASIN B00187V17A (1968)

Wright, Alan, British Airports, Ian Allan, ISBN-10 0 7110 2452 6 (1996)

Opening Times:
Visible at all times but access is partly controlled. Visit website, email info@farnboroughairport.com or telephone 0125 252 4440.

How To Find:

By road: On A325

By rail: Farnborough Station is a five minute taxi ride away


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