To the west of London, Hounslow Heath had been the haunt of dangerous highwaymen in the 17th and 18th century. The uncultivated land, once more than 4,000 acres in size, has shrunk to just approximately 200 acres today, giving way first to farming and military training on what was remaining of the moor.

World War One saw the Hounslow Heath Aerodrome, with a grass runway, being established and thus aviation obtained a tentative toehold in this general area where thousands of international flights now take off and land. The airfield, to the east of the current airport, was operational until 1920 having developed to become a fighter aircraft defence and training base in the war. In 1919, the aerodrome at Hounslow, now looking for civil passenger traffic, became the only London aerodrome and hosted the first scheduled daily international commercial air services when flights came in from Bristol and departed to Lympne in Kent. This was reported in The Sphere newspaper published on 24 May 1919, as can be found from a search of the newspapers and magazines collection on TheGenealogist.