RAF Northolt (IATA: NHT, ICAO: EGWU) is a Royal Air Force station in the London Borough of Hillingdon, in North West Greater London, England. Approximately 10 kilometres (6 miles) north of London Heathrow Airport, it also handles a large number of civilian flights.
RAF Northolt is not named after the town of Northolt, it is situated in neighbouring Ruislip; most early RAF airfields were named after the nearest railway station, in this case Northolt Junction (now South Ruislip).
Opened in May 1915 for aircraft of the Royal Flying Corps, it was an active base for RAF and Polish Air Force squadrons during World War II, became a significant civilian airport soon afterwards, and subsequently reverted to military use upon the opening of Heathrow. Communications aircraft of the Royal Canadian Air Force, the United States Air Forces in Europe, the United States Navy, and the Armée de l'Air were based there in the 1950–1980 period. Today, it is an important RAF airfield and the home of 32 (The Royal) Squadron. Since about 1980 movements of privately-owned aircraft, mainly corporate jets, have outnumbered military aircraft.
When Fairey Aviation had a factory in Hayes, Hillingdon, some of the company's products—such as the Lysander monoplane — flew first from Northolt Aerodrome.
A memorial to Polish airmen who lost their lives in the Second World War can be seen near the southeastern corner of the airfield; its presence is remembered by the name - "Polish War Memorial" - of the adjacent junction on Western Avenue.
The urban setting of the airfield came to prominence in August 1996, when a Spanish Learjet 25 overran runway 25 to collide with a van heading eastward on the busy adjacent A40 Western Avenue; the aircraft was carrying an actress needing to reach Pinewood Studios, in Buckinghamshire. Presumably because of its proximity to Pinewood, the airfield has been used to represent several more-exotic locations in feature films, such as in the pre-title sequence of the James Bond film Octopussy, in which it represented a Cuban-style airfield. Media attention was also high when a seriously ill fugitive, Ronald Biggs, was flown here and arrested, and when the body of Diana, Princess of Wales, was flown here from Villacoublay airfield, in Paris, France, after her death in that city.