London Heathrow Turns 70!
May 31, 2016 is the official 70th anniversary of the opening of this world aviation terminus.
London Heathrow (LHR) is the UK’s top airport and has fallen to #5 among the world’s busiest airports with 74.98 million passengers. In 2016 it celebrates its 70th birthday (LXX) and it qualifies as one of the most contentious public policy issues because of the noise which emanates from its airplanes.
Its list of the historic moments deserves mention, for those attractive events help focus the public’s attention to this major public utility and economic engine. At the same time, this once rural facility is now a center of controversy due to the large population which now surrounds this major international air transportation hub.
Since its transition from a UK military air base to a civil airfield in 1946, LHR has seen 20,000,000 flights and 2,000,000,000 passengers pass through its runways and terminals. A full history is recorded in the following articles:
- Heathrow celebrates 70th anniversary in 2016 (great source of key dates)
- From the start of Beatlemania to Queen Elizabeth landing as the new monarch: Heathrow celebrates iconic moments in its 70 year history with nostalgic photos (tremendous pictures of great moments)
While it is enjoyable to relive all of those memorable moments, it is appropriate at this birthday to review LHR’s history as to its role in this area southwest of London.
If one traces the site back to pre-War World II, the Hamlet of Heathrow looked like this map. In 1928 the Fairey Aviation Company Limited opened an aircraft factory there and tested their products over the community.
During that War the facility was requisitioned and preparations were made to convert it for a bomber squadron. That project was deferred by Churchill to devote those resources to Operation Overlord.
Its next use was as London’s airport (see below map) and the original Air Ministry design was adjusted to used by airlines by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Scheduled operations were initiated in 1946. Here’s a picture of that first commercial flight.
As international aviation grew, the London airport was expanded to the configuration shown in the below 1955 picture.
Between 1960 to today, the LHR terminals and runways were increased to capture the escalating traffic. It is among the, if not THE, greatest connecting hubs for all major foreign carriers and the domestically originating travelers seeking to reach overseas business and vacation destinations. The complex contributes dramatically to the national economy with estimates as high as $5 Billion.
The current LHR flights are depicted in this graphic:
The present airport looks like this:
And a recent noise footprint looks like this:
Over its 70+ years London Heathrow has responded to the demands of the world’s travel, has contributed to the finances of its homeland and yes, added noise to those who live proximately to it.
Happy Birthday LHR and best wishes for the future.