Welcome to the Ruislip Online detailed web site

Boing 707 lands at RAF Northolt

Pan American Boing 707 lands at RAF Northolt by mistake.

On October 25th 1960 a Pan American (Pan-Am) Boing 707 jet with 41 passengers and crew on board landed at RAF Northolt by mistake! 

The approaches to Heathrow and Northolt were similar in that each approach, when heading over London, had before them very large and similar in appearance gasometers. The pilot it seems saw the gasometer and then beyond it the runway and assumed it was Heathrow, when the gasometer was in Harrow. The Heathrow approach has a gasometer in Hounslow.

In order to try to prevent the same thing happening again on the Harrow gasometer in very large letters the two letters NO (for Northolt) were painted on it and on the one in Houslow LH (for London Heathrow) where there are pictures opf them below. The South Harrow one has since been removed.

There were fears that the runway at Northolt would not be long enough to get the plane airborne again but with a light fuel load it subsequently took off and made the short journey to Heathrow.

Pan American 707 at RAF Northolt
Pan American 707 leaves Northolt

The pictures above are copyright to the George Trussell Collection.

Permission has kindly been given to use them here.

The Jet That took a wrong turning
Airliner lands at wrong airport
The South Harrow (NO) gasometer

More images of the South Harrow Gasometer

There are several pictures of the South Harrow Gasometer here