Planes flying over Ealing these days are more likely to provoke the ire of residents than inspire a sense of wonder.

But the noise from passing aircraft would have been far less disruptive or frequent at the turn of the last century, when aviation was first getting off the ground.

Two features from the Gazette 30 years ago this month documented the history of manned flight in the borough, beginning with the first fly-past of Ealing Broadway by the Spencer Airship, which took off from Crystal Palace in 1902.

Ealing's own aviation pioneers were for the most part based at the now defunct Acton Aerodrome - including G.J. Mason, of Boston Road, Hanwell, who in 1909 completed his own plane. A report in the Gazette's predecessor, the Middlesex County Times, read: "Its weight is only 90lbs but its principal variation from other flying machines is its motive power, which is an entirely new idea."

A contemporary of Mr Mason, Harold Piffard, was perhaps the best-known of Ealing's pioneers, but his homemade plane was wrecked the same year after he decided to take off during a gale.

And the borough's first aircraft manufacturer, the Twining Aeroplane Company, based in Hanwell, also began life in 1909. It produced three types of aeroplane, but folded before the start of the First World War.

The Gazette's feature was prompted by a book published in 1978, The Story of Acton Aerodrome.

It detailed the misfortune of H.G. Dixon, of Twyford Avenue, another intrepid aviator and the first of the borough's residents to get off the ground.

His new monoplane was flying steadily when Mr Dixon mistakenly closed the throttle instead of opening it. The engine shut off and the machine came crashing to earth at a speed of 40mph.

The pilot was unhurt but the same could not be said of his aeroplane, which suffered a crumpled front, buckled wings and wheels and skids which were rendered useless by the crash.

A team of Birketts photographers based at Acton Aerodrome were on hand to record such moments for posterity. As the planes drifted in, their cameras would be at the ready to capture the impact.

One of their most frequent subjects was Swiss ace André Thomsen, who trained pilots at the Ruffy-Baumann school at Acton.

Many of the planes used had a flimsy 'string bag' construction and would easily collapse - as documented in the photographs, which Mr Thomsen hung on to and passed on to his son, Leonard, of Rosedene Avenue, Greenford.

The younger Thomsen inherited his father's interests, making model planes before he was old enough to join the Air Training Corps.

He went on to serve as a flight engineer for Bomber Command during the Second World War, when he crewed Halifax bombers for missions over France and Germany in 1943.

"It was one of the quickest ways of getting into the air force - and out," he told the Gazette in December 1978. It meant I could keep up my interest in planes."

But he was no fan of the jumbo jets which had begun to make regular forays over Greenford towards Heathrow.

He said: "I don't always appreciate them. When the little ones went over they made so little noise, but people used to think they were a nuisance."

The last vestiges of Acton Aerodrome - the hangars, which stood next to the Renault plant in Western Avenue - were demolished in the mid-1970s.