The de Havilland Aircraft Co opened an aerodrome in 1930 on farmland that it acquired outside Hatfield. The company's School of Flying was the first operation to take up residence. Flying clubs moved in and recreational facilities were developed. Garden parties, aerobatic displays and national air races were hosted. Regular visitors included famous flyers, royalty and aristocracy, actors and actresses, politicians, senior military ranks and representatives from Britain's other great aircraft manufacturers. Throughout 1934, new buildings were constructed to house de Havilland's global headquarters, factory production and Aeronautical Technical School. The victory of the sleek, red Comet in the England-Australia air race would have lasting significance for the town. The legendary Tiger Moth and iconic airliners such as the Dragon Rapide came off the production lines. Increasing numbers of RAF pilots were trained by the School of Flying while the garden parties, flying displays and air races continued. Military aircraft contracts were getting larger as long shadows from Europe reached the town.
John Clifford worked in corporate communications for fifteen years. The son of an RAE Farnborough apprentice, John's bedroom ceiling was covered with model aircraft. He has lived most of his life in Norfolk, surrounded by former RAF and USAAF stations. He has an early but clear memory from the 1970s of passing the replica Comet racer that fronted the Hatfield factory site for many years. John edited the English translations of Tor Idar Larsen's Norwegian biographies in Viking Spitfire and Into the Swarm, both published by Fonthill Media.