View Full Version : Re First Hard Runway On Airfield / Aerodrome

23rd Sep 2002, 20:59
Hi All

Someone on another forum, has asked the question.

When and where, was the first hard runway built, on an Airfield /
in the UK .

Same Question but non UK.

This is definitely a question for the Historians.

Regards Martin Burney

Spiney Norman
24th Sep 2002, 12:15
Hi MB.
Believed to be RNAS Hatston, Orkney, (HMS Sparrowhawk). Early in 1939 the Admiralty asked for advice from Capt Fresson of Highland Airways regarding the establishment of an airfield in Orkney. Fresson suggested the site at Hatston but commented that the drainange of the site would require Tarmac runways, as would any other in the islands, to be useable all year round. This was very remarkable thinking at the time and even more surprisingly, the Admiralty accepted it! The airfield opened just before the declaration of WW2 but I don't have an exact date. First operational use was Nov 1939 by 804 squadron.


24th Sep 2002, 12:56
USA: 1927 - The first paved runway is installed at Ford Airport.

brain fade
25th Sep 2002, 11:11
Hatston. In the UK anyway. Its an industrial estate nowadays (in Kirkwall) but you can still see the overall layout. The Orkneys also home to the well preserved Twatt. (Titter, ooooh! don't);)

26th Sep 2002, 10:10
This question is likely to raise several claims and counter-claims!

I also found the date that ORAC gives, for the first concrete runway to be built at Ford airport in 1927.

Other articles have:

- Newark claiming to have the nation's first paved runway, airport opened Oct 1928
- the Grand Central Airport at Glendale, CA as the first paved runway "West of the Rockies", and work started in 1923, but no end date given
- Le Bourget having one of the first paved runways in the world, but date given as 1920s.

What is a "hard" runway? Is "non-grass" sufficient? Is a cinder runway "hard"?

Not finding the other thread(UK question), would Marham and Waddington be candidates? They were earmarked for "heavy" bombers during the 1930s, so when did they get concrete runways? And what about the de Havilland airfield at Hatfield? When did that get paved?

Still looking!

Spiney Norman
26th Sep 2002, 11:51
Ooops! Have just realised I didn't say that in my original post I was only answering the 'in the U.K.' bit! Re Grand Central Airport Glendale, I've got a completion date of 1928, no month I'm afraid. What you say regarding what is a hard runway is a good point. I seem to remember that the RAF, for instance, were using oil consolidated sand runways in the Middle east in the mid 1920's. Think this is stretching the point though and we're almost certainly looking at Tarmac/Asphalt/Concrete here.


Iron City
26th Sep 2002, 14:08
Checked the FAA history web site and found no refs. to first paved runway. Recall seeing pictures of Lindbergh at Le Bourget and it being paved where the aircraft rolled out, at least.

Thought the entry for Lindbergh's flight, reprinted here in it's entirity, would be interesting to readers of this forum.

May 20-21, 1927: Charles A. Lindbergh, a former air mail pilot, made the first nonstop solo flight across the Atlantic in an airplane, a Ryan monoplane dubbed the Spirit of St. Louis. He flew the 3,610 miles from Roosevelt Field, Long Island, N.Y., to Le Bourget Field, Paris, France, in 33 hours 29 minutes.
Lindbergh's feat provided a strong stimulus to U.S. aviation, and made him a world hero whose fame overshadowed earlier Atlantic crossings by air. The first transatlantic flight had been made in stages on May 16-27, 1919, from Newfoundland to Lisbon, via the Azores, by a U.S. Navy Curtiss NC-4 seaplane, flown by a six-man crew commanded by Albert C. Read. That same year, on Jun 14-15, Royal Air Force pilots John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown crossed the Atlantic nonstop from Newfoundland to Ireland in a Vickers Vimy. The following month, another Royal Air Force crew, commanded by G. H. Scott, flew the airship R-34 from Scotland to New York (Jul 2-6), then returned to England (Jul 9-13). Between Jul 30 and Aug 31, 1924, two U.S. Army Douglas World Cruiser seaplanes (manned by Lowell H. Smith, Leslie P. Arnold, Erik H. Nelson, and John Harding), flew from England to Labrador during the course of history's first round-the-world flight. Three other aircraft with multiple crew members had also crossed the Atlantic before Lindbergh's "Lone Eagle" flight.