Site of Llandrindod Wells aerodrome

button_lang_frenchSite of Llandrindod Wells aerodrome

llandrindod_gustav_hamel_and_aeroplaneLooking over the river Ithon from this point in the Rock Park, you may find it hard to believe that the field to the right of the river was once an aerodrome from where it was possible to fly to London!

The field, which has also been a racecourse and sports ground, hosted celebrity aviator Gustav Hamel in 1913, when he conducted the first flying display over this area of Mid Wales. The photo of him at Llandrindod (right) is shown here courtesy of G Micah. One of the display’s instigators was local councillor Tom Norton, who in 1914 promoted a flying display by Vivian Hewitt. The word “Aircraft” can still be seen on Tom Norton’s Automobile Palace in the town centre.

The 1920s and 1930s were the heyday of exhibition flying in Britain, after aviation’s rapid evolution in the First World War had greatly increased the number of trained pilots. One of those pilots was Sir Alan Cobham, who flew the first plane from London to Cape Town in 1926. He brought his aerial display, known as “Cobham’s Flying Circus”, to Llandrindod in 1932.

llandrindod_aerodrome_poster_1933In 1933 Universal Aircraft Services set up a taxi service here, flying locals and visitors not just for “joy rides” over such places as the Elan Valley and Aberystwyth but also to cities including London, Cardiff and Birmingham. The company’s poster, shown here courtesy of the Radnorshire Museum, explained that Llandrindod now had an “aerodrome”, having forged ahead “in developing this exhilarating and modern form of travel”.

Llandrindod’s last major air display was in 1936. After the Second World War, aircraft were much bigger and faster and needed something larger and firmer than a field to land on. Llandrindod’s aerodrome consequently slipped into disuse.

For more information on the airfield, and on all aspects of Radnorshire’s aviation history, see the book Early Birds and Boys in Blue, A Century of Flight in Radnorshire by Phillip Jones.

With thanks to Phillip Jones and the Radnorshire Museum

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