North Weald Airfield was first established in 1916, only 13 years after the Wright Brothers made the World's first powered flight. It initially served to protect London from the Zeppelin raids in the First World War. North Weald's finest hour came in the summer of 1940, when it served as a frontline airfield in the Battle of Britain.


During the Second World War, North Weald played host to Squadrons made up of many foreign nationals, including Americans, Czechs, Poles and also Norwegians, to which the airfield and village maintain special links to this day. Hurricanes, Spitfires and Blenheims were the most common types to be seen at North Weald.



At the end of the Second World War, the VE Day Victory Fly-past, led by the legendary Sir Douglas Bader, was assembled and took off from North Weald. 

In the 1950's the RAF's fast jets moved in.  The airfield was put into care and maintenance in 1964, but came back to life when it had a starring role in the epic film "The Battle of Britain".

In the early 70's a number of major airshows were staged at North Weald, including the very first International Air Tattoo in 1971.  Essex Gliding Club, the group of aviators that have been resident on the airfield for the longest continuous period apart from the RAF, kept the airfield active throughout the 70's and 80's and remain a mainstay of North Weald to the present day. In the mid 80's major airshows returned to North Weald in the shape of "The Fighter Meet", which were famous for their wide range of classic and modern 
                                                                           day aircraft and dramatic pyrotechnic displays.

In this period more aviation returned to North Weald, with several private collections of classic aircraft moving to the airfield.  Airshows continued to be organised at North Weald into the late 90's by Intrepid Aviation, the company belonging to Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. North Weald has been re-visited several times by film crews, not only for promotional videos and documentaries but also for major productions such as Spielberg's "Band of Brothers", where take-off sequences before the D-Day landings were filmed. 


North Weald continues to host a wide and varied range of aircraft, with much activity centered around the Squadron, with its historic atmosphere and period buildings. The airfield museum is based in the former station office, outside which, is a memorial to all those who gave there lives while based at North Weald.


However, apart from aviation, North Weald has developed into to be a base for many activities, including the regular Saturday Market (the UK's biggest) a range of sports such as cycling, archery, gymnastics, model aircraft flying, model car racing and varies motorsports.  It is also the venue for rallies and concerts. See the activities section for more details.

To find out how you can help preserve North Weald as an historical and valuable site for aviation and leisure activities, instead of it becoming a major housing estate, go to our campaign section.

Airfield History

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Airfield History
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