Thornaby Airfield c1958

This photograph of Thornaby Airfield in 1958 reminded me of a visit to an airshow there with my father in the 1950s.

Two thing stick in my mind about that day out, the first was standing under the open bomb doors of an airplane and looking up at the racks, it seemed to me to be a huge space, it was about the same size as my mothers living room, the second thing was watching a jet plane taxiing along the runway, as it reached the end it turned ready for take off, the runway was edged in cinders and the crowd, myself included, was treated to a shot blasting session as the exhaust pointed toward us.

Another thing I remember at an airshow was an English Electric Lightning doing a fly past and going into a vertical climb and we were looking straight up its exhaust, I am not certain this was at Thornaby as I have been to many airshows over the years, does anybody know if a Lightning ever flew at Thornaby around about 1956.

I have no idea what type of plane this is in the photograph but I am sure somebody will know.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bruce Coleman.

12 thoughts on “Thornaby Airfield c1958

  1. It is a Mk 8 Gloster Meteor, possibly the one I saw doing the high speed runs.

    It was the last day fighter version of the Meteor, and was the first indication that Britain was falling behind the Americans and Russians, who were flying the swept wing F86 Sabre and Mig 15.

    I understand that the Meteor would struggle to intercept the B29 Superfortress of 1944 vintage and could not manage the later version the B50, with its top speed of 400 mph at altitude


  2. I seem to remember one of the displays starting with “High Speed Runs in the Meteor 8” it was raining at the time and someone commented that the pilot could not have seen a thing. It all seemed very tame compared to the finale of the show, the near supersonic flypasts by the Hawker Hunter, but the efforts by the Meteor were dangerous. At just above its top speed of about 590mph the aircraft became nose heavy, tending to put the aircraft into a dive.


  3. It looks like a Meteor to me I was born educated and grew up in Thornaby and used to watch the aircraft on a regular basis from many vantage points, great days.


  4. I was in them RAF in 1950’s – the national rail strike caused chaos – service personnel stranded ordered to report to nearest RAF base – mine was RAF Thornaby – hundreds of men from RAF bases all,over the country stood in lines as lorries rolled up.
    The best I could get was RAF Fazacalry (near Liverpool not sure if I have spelt that right) I slept on the floor that night – next day they fixed me up with lift to RAF Warton (Nr Blackpool)
    Sure that’s why Dr Beeching used his axe on Railways.
    Ken Howells


  5. Meteor.
    Around that time a squadron of NF18s had been there.
    A mock flying. Bed stead was there… ’57?
    No Lightning… A Sabre & Canberra. 608 was THE club!!!


  6. I believe the aeroplane in the photograph is a Gloster Meteor. I have a picture of myself standing (I was only 7 years old) in the cockpit of an English Electric Lightning at an airshow circa 1959 at what is now Durham Tees Valley Airport. I still remember it flying the length of the runway but only 100ft above it.


  7. Lightnings were base at Middleton St George and we used to watch them do that vertical climb from our house in Worsall near Yarm. My father taught me drive on Thornaby airdrome in the latter part of the 1950’s in an Austin A70 then one of the first Hillman Minx’s – HFW 58. Good times!!!


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