Future for Old Buckenham Airfield looks bright

PUBLISHED: 06:30 23 August 2011 | UPDATED: 09:06 23 August 2011

Visitors watch a Battle of Britain memorial flight at Old Buckenham Airfield in 2008.

Visitors watch a Battle of Britain memorial flight at Old Buckenham Airfield in 2008.

Archant © 2008

The future of a historic Norfolk airfield is looking bright after volunteers rolled-out a scheme to attract new businesses and visitors.

Rumours had been circulating within the aviation world that Old Buckenham Airfield, near Attleborough, was to close due to a decline in activity brought on by the economic downturn.

But officials at the base, which was once the home of the US Army Air Force 453rd Bomb Group, said although the site had struggled in recent times, the gossip was untrue.

The airfield, which is operated by Touchdown Aero Centre, came under new management this month and plans are already under way to open up previously disused hangars and workshops for a range of activities, including storage for aircraft and vintage car clubs, to secure its survival.

Officials have also made available more office space for outside businesses – of which 80pc was snapped up within two weeks of opening. The licence at its restaurant – The 453 Diner – is also being renewed so it will be able to serve alcohol and open every day.

Matthew Wilkinson, who works at the airfield, said: “All that happened here over the last few years was aviation and, of course, in a recession aviation is a very expensive hobby and that declined.”

He added that the airfield was determined to host a number of public events, kickstarting with an American Tail Dragger fly-in on September 25, but its annual summer air show, which was cancelled this year due to time and cost restraints, will not make an immediate return.

“The thing with the air show is if on the morning it is raining, then it’s a write-off, but you’ve already committed the money. We do want to bring it back eventually, but we do not want to bring it back and risk everything yet. Frankly there is an air show going on every day of the week here,” he said.

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