End of an era

RELOCATION OF THE Defence Research Agency air fleet was completed on October 18, 1994, when the last research aircraft departed from Farnborough for Boscombe Down.

Tornado F.2A TIARA (Tornado Integrated Avionics Research Aircraft) ZD902, flown by Fit Lt Tim Price and Sqn Ldr Dave Southwood, look-off from Farnborough’s runway 07 at 13.10 hours, followed by a fast-and-low pass over the western dispersal area of this famous airfield.

The departure marks the end of research flying and the related aircraft engineering at Farnborough, roles it has fulfilled for 76 years, ever since the Royal Aircraft Establishment came into being. The hangars, once housing a myriad of interesting and varied aircraft, are now closed, although a few non-dying airframes remain within the DRA for ground test purposes along with three Canberras and a BAe 125 awaiting disposal by tender.

The main ‘Factory’ site, as it is still locally known, will be relocated to a purpose-built area on the northwestern perimeter of the airfield, and when this becomes fully functional during 1996/1997 the original site will be vacated.

At present, the future of the historic buildings and test facilities, which includes the famous wind tunnels, is in doubt. However, the charitable organisation, Farnborough Air Sciences Trust, has proposed to purchase, restore and maintain as much of the original site as possible.

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