The 300,000 people expected to attend the seven-day show will be faced with airport-style security and random searches as security is stepped up following September 11.
Thousands of aviation trade and industry experts who attended the opening were forced to queue to go through scanners.
Many were sent back a number of times when the alarm sounded.
When they finally got through they were then confronted with armed guards.
Cars were also subjected to rigorous security checks.
The biennial show was officially opened by the Duke of York.
He was met at the Presidents' enclosure by a string of dignitaries and VIPs, including Mayor of Rushmoor Cllr Brian Jupp and chief executive Andrew Lloyd.
Prince Andrew watched a fly-past by the Red Arrows before addressing aviation experts from around the world.
"Change is ever present and this airfield has gone through a huge amount of change over the years," said the Prince.
"In my life with the Fleet Air Arm I relied on the products that people like you produce.
"I can assure you that I took great pride in the fact that we used your products. They are second to none.
"Increasing our global competition will keep us on our toes and we must maintain the impressive international footprint the UK aviation industry has today.
"You have a great deal of business to do so I wish everyone an extremely successful week of business."
Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, was also at the opening.
"What we see here today and throughout the week is the best of British," she said.
"It's a beacon to the rest of our economy."
Prime Minister Tony Blair sent his best wishes.
"With over 1,200 exhibitors from some 56 countries, the UK is proud to host the cream of the world's aerospace industry," he wrote.
"Aerospace across the world is looking forward to better times ahead and Farnborough International 2002 represents an important milestone in the recovery of confidence and prosperity."
On the first day Rolls Royce secured a £100million contract with Kenya Airlines to supply Trent 800 engines for the Boeing 777.
As expected traffic was heavy on all roads around the air show, especially the M3, A325 and A331.
Our picture shows Sir Richard Branson arriving in style aboard the Vigin Atlantic Airbus A340-600.