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|Airfield History – Value It Or Lose It|
In the hurly burly of the Resettlement process many will have more important things to do than to worry about airfield history or indeed the loss of it...
This recent letter to a national newspaper persuaded me, at least, to think that history is rather important not only to the living but also in memory of the sacrifices made by many during World War II in particular:
“Small airfields in south-east England are under threat. Fairoaks, Redhill, Manston, and Dunsfold have either been sold or are under offer to housing developers, which see them as easy pieces of land for building”.
The author touches on the tip of an iceberg. In Kent, Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey alone, by 2005, out of 80 operational airfields at least 53 had closed for a variety of reasons but often for housing developments. This indicates a wanton regard for history as well as for the sacrifices of our forebears.
Of course history is not the only issue as he further suggested: “These airfields are not the domain of playboy private jet owners: they are a vital part of infrastructure. Without them, police and ambulance helicopters would have no maintenance and operating bases. Above all, pilots start their training at these airfields, and closure would result in huge pressure as demand for pilots grows. Soon, few general aviation airfields will be left in the South East”.
Dunsfold Aerodrome has played an important role in the defence of Britain and its interests for over half a century. In Sir Peter Masefield’s words: “Out of the 45 aerodromes, balloon sites and helicopter pads that have existed in Surrey in the past 200 years, five stand out pre-eminently. In order of seniority they have been...". He then listed: Brooklands; Kenley; Croydon; Gatwick (then Surrey); and Dunsfold.
Dunsfold made a significant contribution to: World War II, primarily with the Royal Canadian and the Royal Netherlands Air Forces but also with the RAF as well as with the evacuation of large numbers of British troops from operational Theatres; The Berlin Airlift; and, in more recent times, the development and construction of three world beaters – Hawker Hunter, Harrier and Hawk.
So the nation’s airfields merit attention for both historical and functional grounds.
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