HeathrowFirst Exhibition

The HeathrowFirst Exhibition is a Open Exhibition organised by the Royal Aeronautical Society Heathrow Branch. The Exhibition was displayed in the Spelthorne Museum at the Staines Library from 22nd April until 25th June 2016.

The Exhibition was designed for celebrating a series of milestones in the aviation and Heathrow’s history in the year of 2016 –

  • the Sesquicentennial (150 years anniversary) of the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS)
  • the Septuagennial (70 years anniversary) of Heathrow Airport
  • and the Sexagennial (70 years anniversary) of the RAeS Heathrow Branch

L-R: Keith Armstrong, senior committee member of the RAeS LHR Branch; Kwazi Kwarteng, MP of Spelthorne; and Jonathon Counsell, IAG’s Head of Sustainability.

The Exhibition was opened by Mr Kwazi Kwarteng, MP of Spelthorne who was charmed by the incredible transformation of Heathrow airport and it included the presence Air Cdre Bill Tyack (CBE FRAeS RAF) Past‐President of the Society and expert in the Origins and History of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and Jonathon Counsell, the Head of Sustainability of the International Airlines Group.

The retrospective Exhibition offered a unique opportunity for the public to see fascinating photographs of some ‘innovative firsts’ in aviation at Heathrow Airport from its early years, when it was known as the Great West Aerodrome, until now. The images selected from the National Aerospace Library archives include aerial views of Heathrow Airport at different stages of construction, posters commemorating the RAeS Garden Parties celebrated at Heathrow Airport in the late 1930s and aeroplanes at Heathrow throughout the years.

“This Exhibition was originally designed by a former member of the Heathrow Branch who regretfully passed away recently. Albert Barnes who was a founding member of the Heathrow Branch, frequently loved to retell stories about his 80 years in aviation, which started with seeing the Zeppelin at age 6 in Brighton. Following his legacy, we have continued the work he started with the aim to involve local people, especially young people in our extensive and varied programme of activities to celebrate our local aerospace history at Heathrow and stimulate ideas for future achievement. Through this exhibition we want to share with the people of the Spelthorne Borough the excitement that we all experience from involvement in this fascinating profession.” Graeme Catnach, Chariman – RAeS Heathrow Branch commented on the opening ceremony.

Surrey Advertiser Article_lres

Surrey Advertiser covers for the HeathrowFirst Exhibition.

Press coverage for the Exhibition including:

  • 30 April – Heathrow Village
  • 6 May – Surrey Advertiser
  • 12 May – Stains Informer
  • 31 May – June edition of Sunbury Matters magazine
  • 28 July – August edition of AEROSPACE magazine
  • and through many other online media.


As the legacy of HeathrowFirst Exhibition, a range of selected photos from the Exhibition can be browsed on our Flickr online gallery below ▼.

HeathrowFirst Flickr_lres

It is also worth to noting that in 2003, the RAeS Heathrow Branch successfully collaborated with BAA Airports Ltd. (now Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd.) on the Wright brothers Centennial Exhibition at the BAA Visitor Centre.