In 1904-06 the Army Balloon Factory relocated from Aldershot to the edge of Farnborough Common in order to have enough space for experimental work. In October 1908 Samuel Cody made the first aeroplane flight in Britain at Farnborough and in 1912 the Balloon Factory was renamed the Royal Aircraft Factory (RAF). Among its designers was Geoffrey de Havilland, John Kenworthy and Henry Folland.

In 1918 the Royal Aircraft Factory was again renamed, becoming the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) to avoid confusion with the Royal Air Force, which was formed on 1 April 1918.

In 1988 the RAE was renamed the Royal Aerospace Establishment and in 1991 this was merged into the Defence Research Agency (DRA), the MOD's new research organisation. In 1995, the DRA and other MOD organisations merged to form the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA).

Although QinetiQ the company was born from a split of DERA in 2001, its heritage, and that of many of its staff, can be traced back much further than that.

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