Throughout 2010, Southampton Airport will be celebrating its centenary with a series of special events. The Hampshire hub was founded on the site of North Stoneham Farm, the location of one of the first powered flights.
Southampton, which is one of six UK airports owned by the British Airports Authority, traces its history back to 1910, when a local man named Edwin Rowland Moon performed a ‘series of hops’ in his homemade monoplane. ‘Sadly, it didn’t end the way that he had hoped,’ explained Colin Van Geffen of the Solent Museum.
‘When he was landing he struck a tree, damaged the plane's undercarriage, and landed in a rather inelegant manner.’ The aircraft, dubbed Moonbeam II, is widely known as the first plane to take off from Southampton Airport, despite the fact that no hangers were built at the site until during the First World War, in 1917.
Southampton continued to gain prominence over the next few decades, hosting a test flight of the famous Spitfire in 1936. Local scholars also claim the compact Skeeter helicopter as a Hampshire creation, cementing the county’s place in aviation history.
Eleven unique events are planned in Southampton between June and the end of 2010, ranging from jazz nights at local nightspot, The Point, to a 100-mile car rally, featuring the first and only supercar to be built at the airport, the Gordon Keeble. The celebrations end with the unveiling of Southampton’s redeveloped departure lounge in November.
Airport bosses hope that the celebrations will bolster links with local businesses, and attract investors to Hampshire.