The Royal Air Force Museum London (also commonly known as the RAF Museum) is located on the former Hendon Aerodrome. It includes five buildings and hangars showing the history of aviation and the Royal Air Force. It is part of the Royal Air Force Museum.
The Museum site at Colindale was once part of the RAF Hendon station and prior to that, one of the first civilian airfields, acquired by Claude Grahame-White in 1911.
In 1914, the aerodrome was requisitioned for Home Defence during the First World War. Hendon became a Royal Naval Air Station, training new pilots in the flying schools on site. Operations ceased after the end of the Great War.
From 1927 to 1939 Hendon housed No. 601 Squadron, nicknamed the ‘Millionaires’ Squadron’ due to the wealth and upper social class of its volunteers. In 1939, the outbreak of war saw Hendon once again become an operational RAF station, home to No. 24 Transport and Communications Squadron. RAF Hendon also served briefly as a fighter station during the Battle of Britain.
The last flight to Hendon by a fixed-wing aircraft took place on 19 June 1968, when the last operational Blackburn Beverley was delivered to the Museum prior to its royal opening in 1972. Soon afterwards, the runways were removed to make way for the Grahame Park Housing Estate. The official closure of RAF Hendon took place on 1 April 1987.
The museum was officially opened at the Colindale (then part of Hendon) London site on 15 November 1972 by Queen Elizabeth II. The hangars housed 36 aircraft at opening. Over the years, the collection increased, and aircraft not on display at Hendon were stored or displayed at smaller local RAF station museums.
The first director of the museum was Dr John Tanner, who retired in 1987. In 1988, Dr Michael A. Fopp (who had previously directed the London Transport Museum) was appointed director general of all three sites operated by the museum. Retired Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye replaced Fopp as director general on 9 June 2010. In October 2014, it was announced that Maggie Appleton was to be appointed as CEO of the museum.