Historic Norfolk airfield sold

The historic Old Buckenham airfield, near Attleborough, a former home to a famous US bomber group has been sold to Guernsey-based investors for close to £1.5m.

A historic Norfolk airfield and former home to a famous US bomber group has been sold to Guernsey-based investors for close to £1.5m.

The Old Buckenham airfield, near Attleborough, was put on the market last February and according to its agents, attracted interest from a series of private individuals, corporate operators and property companies.

It will remain one of the biggest privately-operated airfields in East Anglia and one of 22 parachute drop zones in the UK, with its new owners promising to invest in the facilities. The existing operations will be unaffected, with the club, flying school and maintenance continuing to be run by the current management, Touchdown Aero Centre, which has a lease on the airfield stretching to 2015.

Managing director Paul Layzell welcomed the sale, by a pension fund administered by Suffolk Life - and announced that the Old Buckenham Airshow would return this summer following a year's absence, scheduled for Sunday, June 24.

He said: "The purchasers are sympathetic to the demands of the members, who should see further improvements to the facilities."

Mr Layzell confirmed that the airfield sold for a figure "extremely close to the asking price" of £1.5m, and said that he was well under way with planning the airshow, which attracted more than 10,000 visitors in 2005 and raised £5,000 for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

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"This year the show will be bigger than ever before," he said. "It will have more interesting military aircraft, we're hoping to have a Battle of Britain memorial and both modern and military aerobatic aircraft will take part, together with a display of super cars."

The airfield was once famous for being the base of Oscar-winner Jimmy Stewart and was also home to the United States 453rd bomber group, which flew 259 missions over enemy territory.

It recently hit the headlines again after a 90mph storm last month ripped apart a hangar, destroying three planes and seriously damaging six others.

Mr Layzell said insurers have now given their approval for repair work to start, and he was now waiting for the new roof materials to be delivered.

Most of the planes' insurers had also now paid up.

Commenting on the sale, Simon Dixon Smith, of Cambridge-based agents Savills, said: "The sale of the airfield generated considerable interest and several good offers.

"The sale has secured Old Buckenham's position as an important aviation facility in East Anglia."