Leeds Bradford Airport celebrates 90th birthday on Sunday with history exhibition planned

Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) is celebrating its 90th Birthday on Sunday (October 17).

By Daniel Sheridan
Sunday, 17th October 2021, 4:45 am

The airport started operating on October 17, 1931 and has been serving the county ever since.

Originally served for general training, the airport underwent a 140.000 square metre expansion by 1935 and the first commercial services - flying to Newcastle, Doncaster and Aberdeen - took place shortly after.

During the Second World War, an Avro factory was built just to the north of LBA between 1941 and 1942, with the finished facility becoming the largest single span factory building in Europe of its time at 500,000 sq ft.

The airport opened in 1931 PIC: LBA

Sitting on top of the structure, a camouflage roof protected the site from attack throughout the war, with the development of a second runway, extra hangars, and taxiways further supporting LBA’s role in the war effort.

Over 5,500 military aircraft were built at the Avro factory during the Second World War at Leeds Bradford Airport, including 4,500 Avro Ansons, 300 “Yorks”, and nearly 700 Lancaster bombers.

In the post-war era, LBA remained under jurisdiction of the military until 1947, when civilian use and commercial flights were able to resume.

In 1953, Yeadon Aviation Ltd was established to manage the airport operations. During this period, the airport opened a new terminal and runway, which aided an increase in travel and tourism for Yorkshire. Alongside the good people of Yorkshire, many famous faces have travelled through Leeds Bradford Airport over the years, including, Diana, Princess of Wales, the Beatles, Louis Armstrong and Nelson Mandela.

LBA celebrating 90 years - (r-l) Carol Burrows, Human Resources Director, Vincent Hodder, CEO of LBA and Alex Tong, Chief Financial Officer PIC: LBA

As airport traffic increased post-war, the airport grew to accommodate its passengers, with an additional runway extension and the construction of a tunnel for the A658 road connecting Bradford to Harrogate.

In 1985, the airport was renamed to its current name - Leeds Bradford Airport.

The 80s also saw the start of transatlantic services, with Boeing 757’s and Lockheed L-1011 TriStars making journeys to Canada.

Most notably, the supersonic jet Concorde operated from Leeds Bradford Airport until the year 2000.

Now, approximately 4 million passengers use the airport each year to more than 70 destinations.

LBA wants to thank all of passengers for their support over the years and has asked those wishing to celebrate the airport to use the hashtag #90yearsofLBA on social media.

As part of its 90th birthday celebration, LBA will be hosting an exhibition event Saturday October 23, detailing the history of Yorkshire’s airport.

The exhibition will take place at Hields Aviation (Bradford Airport, Yeadon, Leeds, LS19 7UG) between 10am to 5pm.

Artefacts of Leeds Bradford Airport will be on display showcasing the history of the site, including some never before shown photographs of its history, and that of the Avro factory.

This event will also provide an opportunity to see historic aircraft in flight and meet members of the Air Yorkshire Aviation Society.

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