End of a 100-year+ era: Old Sarum to close

Old Sarum Airfield will close to ALL movements from 16:45 on the 31st of October 2019.

That’s the bald statement on the website of Old Sarum Airfield today. Just two days remain to find a way of keeping open one of the UK’s best-loved, oldest and picturesque airfields.

Old Sarum Airfield dates back to 1917 when the site was requisitioned by the War Office for use by the Royal Flying Corps as a base for flying and fighter training.

“During 1917, German prisoners of war and the Chinese Labour Corps constructed three pairs of large aircraft hangars and one large aircraft repair hangar,” says the airfield. “The style built were General Purpose Sheds with Belfast Trusses, as they were quick and easy to assemble.

“Three of these hangars can still be seen at Old Sarum, some of just a few examples in the UK.”

The airfield also played an important role during WWII, and in 1956 the City of Salisbury gave the Freedom of the City to RAF Old Sarum. The military left Old Sarum in 1979.

The leaseholder of the airfield, Matthew Hudson, says losses have forced him to close the airfield after a proposal for a mixed use development, with housing, was turned down by the planning inspector.

Subject to weather, FLYER will be flying into Old Sarum on Thursday, 31 October. You’re welcome to join us in saying goodbye to this wonderful old airfield – at least for now.

Do you have any memories or thoughts about Old Sarum Airfield you’d like to share? Perhaps you learned to fly there? Feel free to add comments below.

Comments

  1. Having learnt to fly at Old Sarum during 1995 and been a member there until 2000, but subsequently flown into EGLS every year since, but also because my first experience of gliding was at Old Sarum with the Air Training Corps some time around 1973, I am sorry to see its passing as a flying site. Hopefully the weather will permit just one more landing and take-off in the short time remaining.

  2. How sad.
    Did all my instructor ratings with David Scouller at this excellent well run airfield.
    Great memories, the authorities will rue the day these facilities are denied to General Aviation and allowed to be developed.
    A sad loss !!

  3. I completed my first matz/zone transit crossing via Middle Wallop, from Popham with the end destination Old Sarum. In my era of flying it seems like the norm to hear an airfield is being eyed up something. That something normally involves closure. To try an be positive about the situation, It’s great to hear Old Sarum’s history and stories from many aviators and like. I enjoyed my multiple visits, the breakfasts, and a good wonder around. I am truely happy to have flown in!
    This is truely a big hit for the aviation community but do we flyers need to learn any lessons from Old Sarum, which may help protect our own airfields for the future… I wouldnt want this to happen to another airfield, but am sure more are in the pipeline… but what change can you make now to save your airfield? Do we need to do more for community? Do we need to help fix problems on the airfield to save money? Goverment petitions to protect not only airfields but airspace? It’s sad to gain from lessons learnt but what’s next for the aviation world?
    Old Sarum, am sorry to hear of your ending, Well done on your achiviements and the many happy pilots and visitors throughout the years.

    1. Yes things can still be done. A consortium and non profit entity. Safe guarding. A members list with any expertise noted. A business plan and action plan. FB save Old Sarum.

  4. Very sad indeed. Ironic that we have one council apparently refusing a mixed use development which might have kept it open and another, in the case of Wellesbourne, currently accepting a mixed use development whilst still not totally ruling out a possible CPO.

    We hear you, Mr. Shapps, but perhaps it’s time for some solid action if your apparent wishes are to be nothing more than wishes and before there is little or nothing left to protect.

    1. Wellesbourne slightly different. Old Sarum lease holders. want a further development inside the perimeter. Thus not allowing the space for the current (past) commercial activities renting space. Wellesbourne not complicated with leaseholder. A big problem is value as it is v seller wanting development value.

  5. My late father, joining the RAF in 1938, first landed there the following year, the first year of the war in which he went from wireless operator to pilot.

  6. I learnt to fly at OS only about five years ago with Geoff Prout as my instructor. I was probably one of his last students before he retired. So sad to see this iconic airfield shut for good. I hope some plan can be agreed down the line to keep it operating as a GA airfield somehow!

    1. It is very sweet knowing that the Hudson family have lost a large amount of money from their bet that they could buy the airfield, cease flying, and build on it.

      No doubt in the future they will sell at a further loss but flying can resume.

      1. The loss is a questionable state. Possibly the interest they charge for the investment? The deterring of activities reduced the income? The original application 2015 the planners noted the accounts did not reflect the loss claimed. Perhaps ensuring this situation was created post application?

  7. I did AEF gliding with 1010 Squadron Air Training Corps during the 1960s, obtaining my A&B solo gliding certificates in 1969. One of our instructors was a flamboyant character called George Morgan who, if I recall correctly, would, given the chance, loop the T21 Sedbergh (as opposed to the T31) at the end of the days flying. Another of his tricks was to flying the aircraft into the hangar and park it neatly between the aircraft!(That’s probably an exaggerated version of what he actually did, coloured by the passage of time 😄). I also fondly remember the magnificent breakfasts we used to have in the Airman’s Mess before a days flying (eggs, bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread…🛎). The RAF chef used to say, ”You can take as much as you like as long as you eat it all”! 😋. I think the Airman’s Mess is where the Partridge Way houses now are 🤔.

  8. I flew G-BUJE Cessna 177B Cardinal into Old Sarum on October 1st 1993 and it has lived there ever since until Monday when we had to fly it out of there for the last time. A very sad day for us.
    It would be nice if the rumours about reopening bore fruit but in the mean time we are now based at Thruxton.
    I hope to be at OS on Oct 31st to say farewell.

  9. Like many others I undertook all my PPL training at OS and regarded it very much as my ‘flying home’. It’s a very sad day to see her closing. As a nation we don’t seem to have many cohesive infrastructure plans as the continuing loss of GA airfields demonstrates. It also appears that we can be rather casual with our history. Good luck and thanks to all the staff at OS who over the years made flying at OS so very enjoyable.

  10. The future of this wonderful airfield should never be linked with housing developments! General Aviation is being held to ransom by those not slightly interested in the rest of us aviation minded folk. It’s all about one thing, always has been, always will be – Money! (Did I forget to mention “Greed”?) Where are those with the power to stop this seemingly endless madness???

    1. Th he power is in the hands of ordinary people. Galvanise and work together. A contact in the MOD would be extremely useful. Post to mich on FB Save Old Sarum

  11. sad to hear of the closure of Old Sarum. I have many happy memories flying from there in the mid eighties, after moving from Devon. Although I moved to Bournemouth in ’89, I still used to fly in regularly. I am now retired from flying but, still have have an active interest. I hope Salisbury Council will see fit to make a compulsory purchase order.

    1. Yes. Will you wrote to them to ask them. As many as possible to write to them. Without pressure they will not feel a need.

  12. sadly those anti aviation bastards never stop ,,,living museums and learning centers are being remove from public eyes..tyrants and dictators rejoice when those few worth while vocations with avocations are removed from the earth

    to those who remove these monuments a curse be upon you for your ignorance and greed

  13. Very sad news. Everyone at Old Sarum is so friendly and welcoming. My thoughts go to all the staff there and wish them luck in the future. I hope something will happen to make a closure unnecessary

    1. Please write to Wiltshire council to start a compulsory purchase. EVERYONE individually write. If there is support they need to know. The council need to justify this action.

  14. Was based at Thruxton fixing helicopters for Heliwork about ’87.
    Re-newed my license with Barry Dyke. We flew over to Old Sarum in a 150 or 172. Was the Opticia built there as well. Just done 57 years piloting and downgraded from Commercial to Recreational. Great clubs over there,Sorry to hear re closing. Neil Robertson Invercargill Southland New Zealand

  15. I worked at OS for Edgleys as an airframe fitter, I resurrected a Beagle Pup that was languishing in the corner of the Flight shed, Had the C of A renewed and reastablished it as the company’s club aircraft. Got a bit of free flying checking out some of the management echelon to fly it. I also flew the Optica once before the company collapsed. A mate and me kept an Auster J1N there for a while and also flew a Chipmunk there. Oh yes I almost forgot a friend o mine let me fly his VP2 as well.
    As far as the closing of the airfield I am afraid all us aviators are on a hiding to nothing. When you do the sums you will see that the country is desperately short of housing, and the warming of the enviroment will eventually put paid to the Internal Combustion Engine.
    The suits with money will want to make more money and very closely built cheap houses is the way to do it. Both Upavon and Netheravon are reasonably safe as they are military property. they are the other two military operating grass airfields and smack bang in the middle of Salisbury Plain which is mainly required and used by the military and I do not see the military wanting to sell off any of that real estate.
    The Town of Salisbury gradually encrouched on Old Sarum giving the anti aviators every excuse to find reasons to close Old Sarum down. They have failed so far as planning permission has been refused but do not hold your breath. Meanwhile there are a lot of aircraft owners that need new homes for their aircraft or will have to sell them.
    As a Retired Aircraft Licensed Engineer and pilot I have seen lots of airfields closed down for housing and business reasons, air displays cancelled because they are too “dangerous” and exorbitant insurance demands are almost making it impossible to fly in this country anymore.
    Sorry guys and gals I am nearly eighty years old and an ex military man and I can honestly say that I have not seen much in this country that lights my fire these days, of course I see the odd good things happening but I can do nothing but worry for the future of my grand children.
    AL.

  16. I was in the UK for a few weeks in 2003 for business. We were staying in Salisbury, so I brought my logbook with me just in case I was able to log some UK time. It all worked out; a co-worker rode in the rear seat, and we spent an hour or so seeing the countryside from a great perspective. And, lucky for me, greased a perfect landing on our return to Old Sarum. Very sad to hear it’s closing. Great field, great history.

  17. I took advantage of a break in the weather to join my friends in the LAA Wessex Strut for a ‘final’ trip to Old Sarum in my microlight aircraft. On this occasion I captured the occasion on film; see link below:

    https://vimeo.com/370385247

    My home base at Henstridge is a great example of what can be achieved at an historic airfield (formerly RNAS Henstridge) where the owners and senior management team have a positive attitude to aviation. Their support for resident and visiting pilots, as well as the local community, is a clear example of what can be achieved – “where there’s a will, there’s a way”. Let’s hope the owner of Old Sarum and the Local Council have “the will” to agree the way forward to keeping this valuable aviation asset open for future generations to enjoy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *