See also "Naval Air Station Eastleigh."The US Navy at Eastleigh during WW1
.Lat/Long 50 57 00N /01 21 35W .
Grid ref SU 452168 .
37 feet ASL.
Ident "JD" later "SO",
4 Miles NNE of Southampton
RUNWAYS :Grass - 21/03 3800 ft-later extended to 5050ft(1952).NE/SW 3080 ft.ENE/WSW
3750 ft.Concrete 03/21 1679x37m.
The site at North Stoneham Farm was first used for aviation on 1st June 1910 when Rowland Moon took to the air in his tractor monoplane "Moonbeam II".He had built this
machine in the Wool House(near the Royal Pier),now the Maritime Museum and had moved his flying attempts to North Stoneham from the site of his earlier attempts from a paddock behind Paultons House(Romsey).
During 1910 and 1911 the field was also used by Graham White and Maurice Tetard,but nothing further occurred until the War Office decided to build an Aircraft Acceptance Park on the site in 1917.Before completion the site was handed over to the US Naval Air Service as NAS Eastleigh on 23/7/18.The USN used Eastleigh for the assembly and flight testing of aircraft destined for the war front in France until 10/4/19 when the site passed back to RAF control.Picture below shows Handley-Page 0/400 C9758 at Eastleigh in 1919.
In 1929 the Southampton Council purchased the land and,in November 1932 officially reopened the airport.Airline services started in 1934,and in 1935 the Fleet Air Arm started using a site in the NE corner of the airfield as "RAF Eastleigh",but the name was changed to RAF Southampton on 1/8/36(this was later to become HMS Raven on 1/7/39).In 1936 Supermarine moved in ,setting up a flight test facility from where the Spitfire made its first flight.In addition Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft built a factory on the southern edge of the airfield with the intention of building the Burnelli Flying Wing,a project which did not proceed beyond assembling the first aircraft.
With the coming of WW2,Eastleigh was used by the FAA mainly for training,and the other main activity became the production of Spitfires by both Supermarine with Cunliffe-Owen concentrating on repair and modification to Spitfires and a host of other aircraft types.Later in the war Cunliffe-Owen undertook production of Seafires.
After the War Eastleigh returned to civil control April 1946,the airfield being operated by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.Supermarine remained, as did Cunliffe-Owen,the former concentrating on component production,and the latter building their Concordia aircraft.This was a feeder -liner type but the project was abandoned before the second aircraft was completed.These two companies were joined at Eastleigh by Cierva who built the Airhorse and also the Skeeter.Airline services, resumed in 1945,continued to prosper,but the various manufacturers started to disappear,Supermarine moving flying activities to Chilbolton and Cunliffe Owen closing down their factory and selling it to Ford.In 1951 Saro took over Cierva and continued production of the Skeeter.
Downloadable files showing aircraft production at Eastliegh are available on my website "Aviation in Hampshire UK 1900 to 2000".
A well known figure at Eastleigh during the late 40s , 50s and 60s was Viv Bellamy.He operated the Hampshire Aero Club,overhauled and rebuilt aircraft, including the Gloster Gladiator G-AMRK.In the 60s he became involved in building light aircraft - mainly flying replicas for film work though much of this activity took plave at Lands End.A page of reminiscences about Viv Bellamy and Eastleigh Airport by J.B."Tommy" Thompson can be found here.
During the 1950s a mainstay of business for the airport was the Cross channel car ferry service operated by Silver City Airways using Bristol Freighters and Superfreighters.Below are two contemporary postcards showing these aircraft.
In 1965 a new concrete runway was built,opening for use in 1966 ,enabling the operation of larger aircraft.Since then traffic at Eastleigh ,nowadays known as Southampton International Airport,has continued to increase.In addition there is substantial general aviation activity.Ownership of the airfield has changed several times but Eastleigh's future seems secure well into the 21st century.
The Southampton International Airport Mailing Group at Yahoo provides very up-to-the-minute information on all movements etc. at Southampton.You need to follow the link and join the group to receive the Emails(Either individually or as a daily digest)
For a detailed history of Eastleigh,I recommend reading"Southampton/Eastleigh Airport" by David Hatchard(published in 1990 by Kingfisher Publications)