Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
#1693324
Another tragic loss, despite a well-managed campaign.
I had a heated argument in the pub with a bloke about the imminent closure of Dunsfold Airfield, he said , "we all need houses, who needs airfields?”
I knew this chap was a golfer, so I asked, "who needs golf courses?" He said golf is huge sport worldwide and millions of people derive great recreational benefit from the game. I asked how many golf courses he knew of being closed down to make room for more housing? As far as I know this has never happened….

I am not a golfer, but my wife is, as are several of my friends. They get a great deal from their sport, and apart from having to listen to their endless tedious golf stories in the pub I wish them every happiness in their pursuit!

The truth is all clubs bring people together in a common interest, foster a sense of community amongst members, and are generally good for individuals mental and often physical health. In the wider world clubs and associations often generate wealth in terms of local businesses, incoming visitors from further afield, and employment opportunities. Local trades are often required to help with maintenance, generating more local income. Amateurs at club level often feed into the professional world, and this is true in our hobby, most airline pilots started off in a beaten up-cherokee at a small flying club somewhere. Many clubs are involved in charity work, and the wider community benefits from this too.

All of this is true of flying clubs, so why is it that councils are seen to support their local golf, football, Bridge club, whatever club, but not us recreational fliers? I believe it is because we are perceived as wealthy playboys/playgirls, in much the same way people see boat owners (yes I am a yachty too!). So how to counter this perception? The best way is to try and involve the local community and invite them to come and see that we are normal people with jobs and mortgages and children and all the trials of life that they too endure. Get them involved, give free flights, have open days. At Henstridge Geoff (and the rest of us) do a Sterling job in this regard and long may that continue..

The truth is however that councils are under enormous pressure to meet housing targets laid down by the government, and airfields are relatively easy targets. Usually large, level areas already served by roads, they are perfect for the big developers to steam in and build, and whilst the council ticks another box, the developers reel in millions.
Kittyhawk liked this
#1693331
Quite right. My wife and I once had dinner with three other couples who were golfers, yachties and horse riders respectively. Of course as an aircraft owner I was singled out for the usual "how do you afford it" lecture. When we did the sums we all seemed to end up spending £3 to £4K per annum on our hobbies when you add in club membership, side bets, bottom scraping (oo err missus) harbour fees, vets and livery bills. Not cheap but very similar.
Nick liked this
#1693338
What's the situation at Wellesbourne? At first sight with a council compulsory purchase order in place, it would appear safe...... but is it?
#1693352
Boycey wrote:Another tragic loss,

(At Henstridge Geoff (and the rest of us) do a Sterling job in this regard and long may that continue..)


Great opening post and a great shame that Panshanger is lost. I wonder what is happening to the other chap who is trying to find an alternative site in the area?

(At Henstridge, do you need crowd-funding for a broom to sweep the stones away?)
#1693353
In the 'other airfields' category I need to add my own - Redlands -( East of Swindon)

Its closing on 31st Aug and will be replaced by around 250 houses. All part of the 7500 eastern Development.

We have around 20 microlight aircraft based there. Its been my home since 2005...will be a sad day. :pale:
#1693354
Boycey wrote:Another tragic loss, despite a well-managed campaign.
I had a heated argument in the pub with a bloke about the imminent closure of Dunsfold Airfield, he said , "we all need houses, who needs airfields?”
I knew this chap was a golfer, so I asked, "who needs golf courses?" He said golf is huge sport worldwide and millions of people derive great recreational benefit from the game. I asked how many golf courses he knew of being closed down to make room for more housing?
As far as I know this has never happened….


But there is a planning application in for housing replacing New Zealand Golf Course near West Byfleet; mind you the area has several other golf courses anyway.
But I agree; there is an inordinate amount of land set aside for golf with each club charging enormous fees (ducks to avoid incoming) from the minority. :twisted:
Last edited by chevvron on Tue May 14, 2019 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
#1693358
RussStein wrote:In the 'other airfields' category I need to add my own - Redlands -( East of Swindon)

Its closing on 31st Aug.................Its been my home since 2005...will be a sad day. :pale:


I was going to add a like but that seemed perverse. Sorry for your loss.
#1693397
PaulB wrote:What's the situation at Wellesbourne? At first sight with a council compulsory purchase order in place, it would appear safe...... but is it?


In short, no.

Firstly, the CPO process is merely in progress and takes time.

Secondly, the remaining tenants, it seems, are now likely to have to vacate in less than two months time as a result of two legal rulings in favour of the landowner thereby preventing leases being renewed, even temporarily whilst matters are resolved.

Thirdly, Stratford District Council’s intention, and wish, is to retain Wellesbourne as an operational airfield which, of course, requires activity not evictions or bankruptcies.

I worry that it could eventually just come down to time and money i.e. who has most of which and how much of either, or both, they are willing, or able, to spend.

Hopefully, David will win and not Goliath.
#1693436
The UK's mantra has been "privatize without regulation".

We are reaping what was sowed.

Which means let the new owners / operators do what they like with it, which includes selling it for any other use, or jack up the prices and add various red tape and gold plate, so that they only have customers that they like to have, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

Until GA actually manages to lobby change where our predecessors have failed, this entire industry and method of transport will practically cease to exist.
Cowshed liked this
#1693442
Golf and flying is not really an apples to apples comparison. I take part in both.

Firstly, the 'image problem' as has been described is not really to do with the cost. As you correctly identify, it isn't that far out of whack with what other people spend on their hobbies. It's a matter of obscurity. There are just nowhere near as many people flying as playing golf - or playing football, or playing cricket, or fishing, or sailing, or cycling, or whatever. As private pilots, we're a tiny minority group. No-one gives a damn what we think and as a group we lobby for our interests appallingly badly - split into factions and full of 'large character' personalities.

Secondly, the matter of land use. There is money to be made in large airports with significant commercial traffic, and that money comes principally through retail space. There is very little to be made in small airports, and almost none to be made in even smaller aerodromes, airfields, etc. At the smaller end, the few that thrive are those where all (or most) of the sources of income (hangarage, business units, fuel sales, restaurant, flying school) are concentrated in one operator who thus has enough income from different sources to cover the fixed costs. The rest struggle from owner to owner, bankruptcy to bankruptcy, and inevitably become a target for housing development - because that is the most profitable use of land bar none at the present time.

Golf courses are very different. At the upper end, they are private members clubs rather than businesses and most own their own land. Most of these will remain because they exist purely for the game - a group of like-minded people who enjoy what they have and have no motivation to see it turned into housing in return for a per-member payment which really would not be as big as you think, especially at clubs with larger memberships. From time to time some private clubs with ageing memberships do look at this sort of thing (older members care less about the future of the club and place greater value on a cash payout now), but most private clubs have now put into their own rules a clause requiring almost unanimous agreement among members before any land can be sold.

During the golf boom in the 1980s Camberley Heath Golf Club was sold by its members to a private business concern and it remains much as it was, though with higher fees for what is provided compared to similar clubs because there is now an owner extracting an income from it. That is the only example I am know of a traditional members' club 'going commercial'.

Further down the scale you have municipal courses (not that many left, at least in England) and those run as a business. These make up the majority in terms of sheer numbers, and are usually characterised by lower fees and lower-grade facilities than the private clubs. There are exceptions to this, for instance Wentworth is a business rather than a private club. These businesses succeed or fail like any other, and ever since the boom in the 1980s there's been fairly steady expansion. Not many go bust, and when they do it's because of poor management or because it wasn't good land to build a course on in the first place.

In short, the owners of golf courses (be they private clubs or commercial concerns) do not have the immediate incentive to get out of their current line of business in the same way that airport/aerodrome/airfield owners do!