Search

Flying club aims to get new aviation course off the ground

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1 Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Archant 2020

A group of enthusiasts build, maintain and fly classic aircraft at a field not far from Norwich. Reporter STUART ANDERSON met a few of them to hear about a new aviation course they are planning to launch.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Michael Powell.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Michael Powell. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Stepping into the hangers of Felthorpe Airfield takes you on a journey through aviation history.

Felthorpe Flying Club members have bought, built and borrowed some of the most memorable small aircraft that have ever soared skywards.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Michael Powell.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Michael Powell. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

The collection includes an Isaacs Spitfire and its ‘little cousin’ - a Chilton D.W.1 monoplane - a Hawker Fury biplane and even a replica of the Red Baron’s Fokker Dr.I triplane.

And now club members are hoping to inspire the next generation of aviators and aircraft engineers by launching a training course to share their passion for maintaining and flying the machines.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

The club’s chief engineer, 81-year-old Michael Powell, 81, said: “There’s a global shortage of engineers of all kinds, and there’s a growing shortage of aviation engineers.

“We wanted to do something about that, so we started off by teaching some of the owners of the aircraft here how to maintain their own aeroplanes.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

“I put together a series of talks/seminars on aircraft maintenance, and it got quite a good response.”

Mr Powell said as the idea broadened local schools became interested, and they were now looking to build links with commercial aircraft firms that offer apprenticeships, as well as the International Aviation Academy Norwich, based at Norwich Airport.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1 Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

He said: “We wanted to include schools and academies because the shortage of engineers starts there.

“We’re trying to put before people, particularly young people, what’s involved in aviation engineering and what opportunities it offers.”

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Mr Powell said civil aviation in the UK lived in the shadow of commercial aviation, even though it had a £2bn turnover a year and involved 15,000 light aircraft, whereas there were only around 800 commercial airliners.

Mr Powell, who lives at Upton, originally got into gliders when he was in his 20s, which led to a lifelong love of aircraft.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

He said: “Gliders seemed to be a bit like sailing, I like the idea of flying on the wind. Then I thought it would be nice to go somewhere, and for that you need an engine. I’ve always been an engineer so I got into that side of aeroplanes, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Another club member, Dr Peter Brueggemann, said interest in aviation was “slowly booming”, even though it was not a cheap hobby, and the price of aircraft fuel had risen in recent years.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1 Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

MORE: Doctor takes to the skies in replica of Red Baron’s Fokker aircraft

Dr Brueggemann, 57, from Melton Constable, said: “You fly because you’re fascinated with it, you don’t think about the cost. I do flight exams at Norwich Airport, and we’ve had a quite a few young pilots coming up.”

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D, pictured with Peter is Michael Powell.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D, pictured with Peter is Michael Powell. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Originally from Essen in Germany, Dr Brueggemann spent a decade fulfilling a lifelong dream to build a replica of the famous red triplane flown by First World War fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron.

Dr Brueggemann said: “I’ve always been fascinated by this plane and the story behind it. The First World War, as we know it from photos and footage, is black and white, but when you see what aeroplanes from the war were actually like, people are absolutely fascinated.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D, pictured with Peter is Michael Powell.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D, pictured with Peter is Michael Powell. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

“I bought the plans for this plane from America even before I got my private pilot’s licence. After I got that here in Norwich I started flying a Tiger Moth, to get used to flying old aircraft.”

Dr Brueggemann said every piece of the triplane had to be hand-made.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Michael Powell.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Michael Powell. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

He said: “The wood has to be of a high quality and the steel has to be approved. You can’t just buy some parts from B&Q. There are about 26 checks they do to make sure you’re doing everything right.”

He first flew the triplane last year, an experience he said was not for the faint-hearted.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D, pictured with Peter is Michael Powell.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D, pictured with Peter is Michael Powell. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

“It’s a beast,” he said. “It’s so agile it can turn around almost on a 50p coin. You have to be so careful, I had to learn not to take risks.”

The flying club has about 50 members, and Felthorpe has about 20 aeroplanes spread across four hangers.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Michael Powell.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Michael Powell. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Mr Powell said the course would start in autumn, with opportunities for work experience and flying. He said participants would learn about opportunities in civil aviation as well as the Royal Air Force, thanks to another club member, retired Air Marshall Sir Christopher Harper.

Anyone interested in finding out more can email Mr Powell at aircraft@inspectandmaint.co.uk or call him on 0789 9916445.

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1 Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

You may also want to watch:

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1 Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020

Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them.
Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1
Byline: Sonya Duncan
(C) Archant 2020Felthorpe Airfield is home to many vintage planes and the enthusiasts who build and maintain them. Peter Brueggemann with his Fokker Tri Plane D1 Byline: Sonya Duncan (C) Archant 2020


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the orange box below for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad, serving as your advocate and trusted source of local information. Our industry is facing testing times, which is why I’m asking for your support. Every single contribution will help us continue to produce award-winning local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Thank you.



Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press