Pictures celebrate 80 years of flights from Gatwick

Gatwick Airport has published a gallery of photographs to mark the 80th anniversary of the first commercial flight to leave its runway.

Tuesday, 17th May 2016, 4:15 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 1:35 am

The flight was on May 17 1936 to Paris and a single fare cost £4 five shillings - around £160 today - but that included a first class train fare from London Victoria.

Paris was one of just five scheduled routes served from the airport in its first year of operation, the others being Malmö, Amsterdam, Hamburg and Copenhagen.

Eighty years on and Gatwick serves 41 million passengers per year, with routes to more than 200 destinations in 90 countries today.

Queen Elizabeth II steps from a Heron of the Queen's Flight on her arrival at the new Gatwick Airport, for its official opening. SUS-160517-143100001

Throughout its history, the airport has played host to many prominent figures including the Queen, Princess Diana and American President John F Kennedy.

It also bore witness to a number of key aviation milestones including the first Virgin Atlantic flight, which took off from the airport on June 22 1984.

Among the pictures in the gallery are:

June 6 1936: Crowds gathered at Gatwick Airport after it was opened by the Air Minister Lord Swinton;

Mr John F. Kennedy, President of the United States, with Mr Harold Macmillan on the dais where they made brief speeches after the President's arrival at Gatwick Airport. SUS-160517-143036001

June 9 1958: The Queen shaking hands with Captain Spencer as members of a guard of honour of airline captains were presented to her on her arrival to open the new Gatwick Airport;

June 29 1963: John F Kennedy, President of the United States, with Harold Macmillan after the President’s arrival at Gatwick;

July 28 1967: Comedian Bob Monkhouse with ‘The Beat Girls’ at Gatwick Airport;

May 28 1982: The famous picture of Pope John Paul II kissing the ground after arriving at Gatwick for a six-day visit during the first papal visit to the UK;


June 22 1984: Richard Branson posing on the steps leading up to a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-200 at Gatwick before the inaugural flight to Newark airport.

The picture is very much a spot-the-face affair and includes, clockwise from bottom left: Una Stubbs, Holly Johnson, Bonnie Langford, Catherine Rabett, Christopher Biggins, Clement Freud, David Frost, Richard Branson, Suzanne Danielle, Randolph Fields and Gary Numan;

April 14 1985: Wham! singer George Michael at Gatwick after flying back from a two-week tour of China;

March 9 1988: Midge Ure, of Ultravox, spraying a message on a water tanker at Gatwick;


March 18 1988: The North Terminal being opened by the Queen;

September 22 1988: Diana, Princess of Wales listening to the dialogue of pilots as they came into land at Gatwick during her visit to the control tower;

June 1 2010: Lily Cole taking to the runway as she launched Gatwick Runway Models, a modelling competition from Gatwick and Storm Model Management;

May 14 2013: Chelsea players John Terry and Frank Lampard travelling through Gatwick.

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Wham! singer George Michael at Gatwick Airport after flying back from a two week tour in China. Other band member Andrew Ridgeley isn't pictured as he chose to go on to Hong Kong for a days sight-seeing. SUS-160517-143112001
Diana, Princess of Wales listens to the dialogue of pilots as they come into land at Gatwick Airport during her visit to the Control Tower at Gatwick Airport. SUS-160517-143135001
Lily Cole takes to the runway as she launches Gatwick Runway Models, a new modelling competition from Gatwick Airport in conjunction with Storm Model Management. Winners will showcase the airport's hottest at Gatwick Fashion Week in August, plus recieve a New Faces Contract with Storm. SUS-160517-143048001