Aircraft Industry

Aircraft Industry

During the 1950s Surrey made a significant contribution to the development and production of revolutionary types of commercial and military aircraft. Aircraft manufacturers such as Vickers-Armstrongs and Hawker-Siddeley expanded their facilities within the county in order to meet demand. The success of Vickers, based at Weybridge and Wisley, had a major impact upon the prosperity of West Surrey where hundreds of its employees lived. Throughout the 1950s Vickers was at the forefront in the development of turbo-prop commercial aircraft and also military aircraft such as the Vickers Valiant jet bomber.

Hawkers Aircraft based at the Kingston works and Dunsfold aerodrome is best known for the development of combat aircraft. Of note during the 1950s were the Hawker Hunter and Sea Hawk jet aircraft, both ‘…subject to the government’s Super Priority category of funding and supply, designed to speed up the supply of new designs which were considered vital to the RAF and the Fleet Air Arm’. The Hunters successful performance resulted in its being adopted as their standard fighter by Britain’s NATO partners, Holland and Belgium.

The rapid development of London Heathrow and Gatwick airports during this period led to a dramatic rise in the level of commercial air traffic flying over the county which continues until this day. In 1952 over one million passengers flew from Heathrow and Northolt. In 2000-2001 over 64 million passengers flew from London Heathrow, making it the worlds busiest international airport.

One thought on “Aircraft Industry”

  1. Ron Smith says:

    Disappointing that this starts in the 1950s, when Brooklands was at the centre of development of Britain’s aviation industry from the very outset. Suggest that you might like to examine Vol 3 of “British Built Aircraft” for a comprehensive summary of Surrey’s contributions to the aircraft industry

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