Royal Aircraft Factory

In 1904–1906 the Army Balloon Factory, which was part of the Army School of Ballooning, under the command of Colonel James Templer, relocated from Aldershot to the edge of Farnborough Common in order to have enough space for experimental work. Templar retired in 1908 and his place was taken by Colonel John Capper.


In October 1908 Samuel Cody made the first aeroplane flight in Britain at Farnborough.  In 1909 Capper was replaced as Superintendent of the Balloon Factory by Mervyn O'Gorman.


In 1912 the Balloon Factory was renamed the Royal Aircraft Factory (RAF).  Among its designers was Geoffrey de Havilland who later founded his own company, John Kenworthy who became chief engineer and designer at the Austin Motor Company in 1918 and who went on to found the Redwing Aircraft Co in 1930 (Flight International) and Henry Folland – later chief designer at Gloster Aircraft Company, and founder of his own company Folland Aircraft. One of the designers in the engine department was Samuel Heron, who later went on to invent the sodium-filled poppet valve, instrumental in achieving greater powers from piston engines.  While at the RAF, Heron designed a radial engine that he was not able to build during his time there, however upon leaving the RAF he then went to Siddeley-Deasy where the design, the RAF.8, was developed as the Jaguar.  Heron later moved to the United States where he worked on the design of the Wright Whirlwind.


n 1918 the Royal Aircraft Factory was once more renamed, becoming the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) to avoid confusion with the Royal Air Force, which was formed on 1 April 1918, and because it had relinquished its manufacturing role to concentrate on research.


During WWII the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment, then based at Helensburgh in Scotland, was under the control of the RAE.

In 1946 work began to convert RAF Thurleigh into RAE Bedford.


In 1988 the RAE was renamed the Royal Aerospace Establishment.


On 1 April 1991 the RAE was merged into the Defence Research Agency (DRA), the MOD's new research organisation. Then, on 1 April 1995 the DRA and other MOD organisations merged to form the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA).


The Bedford site was largely shut down in 1994.


In 2001 DERA was part-privatised by the MOD, resulting in two separate organisations, the state-owned Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), and the privatised company QinetiQ.


Source: Wikipedia