Croydon Airport could be rubbing shoulders with the likes of the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China if a group of campaigners get their way.

Ian Walker, a British Airways pilot and chairman of the Croydon Airport Society, has grand plans to make the airport a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The 49-year-old, with the help of volunteers from the society, has already drawn up an application which he believes meets the criteria set out by UNESCO and highlights the vital part Croydon Airport played in aviation history.

If successful it would become the 29th world heritage site in the UK.

The airport officially opened in 1920 but its history can be backdated to 1916 when it was known as Beddington Aerodrome which was a small military airfield.

It was in the 1920s though where the airport began to really take off and it became an international hub for commercial flights.

Croydon Guardian:

Ian Walker 

But it was off the runway where history was being made, according to Mr Walker, as Croydon became the front runner in aviation technology.

The airport housed the first air traffic control tower in the world and was also the first airport to pioneer radio position fixing which helped flight navigation.

Pilots still use it in their training to this day.

It was also the first airport to implement a control zone, which is where aircraft had to ask permission from air traffic control to fly into a certain bit of airspace. Again something that is now used in flights all the over world.

Mr Walker, who also wants to open a museum at the site, says the application meets four of the ten UNESCO criteria for becoming a world heritage site.

He said Croydon Airport specifically meets criterion one which states the application has to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius.

Criterion four says it should be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble which illustrates a significant stage in human history.

Croydon Guardian:

The old traffic control room.

Mr Walker now has to wait for the process to open before submitting Croydon Airport’s application to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport who then send it to UNESCO.

The British Airways pilot added: "I am a pilot so I was looking at this and thinking this is brilliant. This is where all the radio and navigation aids which now guide planes across the world, this is where that all started.

"It is completely off the radar. This history has really changed mankind really if you think how many people use planes now and it began here."

Croydon Guardian:

Old pic of the airport in the 30's before WW2.