Blackbushe Airport

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Blackbushe Airport
Blackbushe Airport control tower 02.JPG
The control tower
IATA: BBSICAO: EGLK
Summary
Airport type Private-owned, Public-use
Operator Blackbushe Airport Ltd
Location Yateley
Elevation AMSL 325 ft / 99 m
Coordinates 51°19′26″N 000°50′51″W / 51.32389°N 0.84750°W / 51.32389; -0.84750Coordinates: 51°19′26″N 000°50′51″W / 51.32389°N 0.84750°W / 51.32389; -0.84750
Website www.blackbusheairport.co.uk
Map
EGLK is located in Hampshire
EGLK
EGLK
Location in Hampshire
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
07/25 1,335 4,380 Asphalt
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]

Blackbushe Airport (IATA: BBSICAO: EGLK) is an operational general aviation airport in the civil parish of Yateley in the north-east corner of the English county of Hampshire. The facility comprises an airfield, much reduced in size since its heyday, a British Car Auctions site, a kart track owned by Camberley Kart Club, and a small business park. Blackbushe Sunday Market is held on the car auction site.

Blackbushe Aerodrome has a CAA Ordinary Licence (Number P693) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (Blackbushe Airport Limited). The aerodrome is licensed for night use.[2]

Royal Air Force[edit]

Main article: RAF Blackbushe

The airport started life in 1942 as RAF Hartford Bridge, and it was used by RAF squadrons throughout the remainder of Second World War for reconnaissance, defence and strike operations using Spitfires and Mosquitoes. It was also the home of the Free French Squadron (Lorraine).

A number of important people landed at the airport including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Field Marshal Montgomery.

The RAF Station was closed on 15 November 1946.

Ministry of Civil Aviation[edit]

Airwork Limited Handley Page Hermes IVA on the main apron at Blackbushe in September 1954 before departing on a trooping run
Avro York of Tropic Airways (South Africa) at Blackbushe in 1955

In February 1947 the airfield was opened as Blackbushe Airport under the control of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Full customs facilities were provided for both air transport operators and the private owners of light and executive aircraft.

During the next ten years, Blackbushe airport became a major base for a number of UK cargo and charter operators including Airwork Limited, Britavia and British Eagle. These operators, and others at the airport, also specialised in the maintenance and major overhaul of various types of airliners from around the world, using the wartime "Bellman" hangars on both sides of the A30 road for this activity.

Overseas-based charter airlines often used Blackbushe for their flight to the UK, normally finding that the airfield was open for operations, even when other airports in the London area were closed by fog. The airfield's hilltop position helped in this respect. The Avro Yorks of Tropic Airways of Johannesburg visited for several years.

United States Navy operations[edit]

US Navy Lockheed P2V-5 Neptune patrol aircraft visiting the USN facility at Blackbushe in September 1954

From the early 1950s, the United States Navy (USN) had a facility on the north-east edge of the airport which frequently handled visiting naval aircraft. These included patrol types such as the Lockheed P2V Neptune and the Martin P4M Mercator. Large USN transports that used the airport regularly were the Douglas R5D Skymaster and Douglas R6D Liftmaster. In 1955 USN UK-based communications and liaison aircraft of FASRON 200, previously attached to RAF Hendon, in north London, were switched to Blackbushe.

On 31 May 1960 the airport closed.

Private ownership[edit]

The airport passed into private ownership and was formally re-opened as a general aviation field on 6 October 1962. The airport became a base for a large collection of historic World War II aircraft, including four Junkers Ju 52s, six Douglas DC-3s and a number of smaller planes, such as Spitfires, which were rarely seen on the tarmac. The finest was, perhaps, a Heinkel bomber which, unfortunately, was sold in order to purchase a replacement which then crashed soon afterwards.

Later, British Car Auctions took over the airport and developed it as a centre of private, business and executive aviation.[3]

Blackbushe Airport October 13. Harold Bamberg (centre), Founder Chairman of Eagle Airways stands before the sign he has unveiled listing classic airliners and operators that flew from Blackbushe during its heyday at the heart of Britain's post-war independent airline industry. Names include Britavia, Continental, Dan-Air, Eagle Airways, Falcon, Orion and Pegasus.

Description[edit]

Blackbushe is situated alongside the A30 road between Camberley and Hook. It used to straddle both sides of the A30, with road traffic having to wait whilst airliners were towed across this busy road. The southside was used for aircraft maintenance, utilising wartime-built hangars. Today, only part of the airfield section that lay north of the A30 remains in active use. The traditional name for the flat piece of land on which it is sited is Hartford Bridge Flats. The nearest towns are Yateley and Fleet.

Unless looking at aerial views or maps, it is hard to visualise that this was once a significant airport for passenger and cargo charter flights for the London area.

It is one of several airfields eclipsed since 1958 by the growth of London Heathrow Airport and London Gatwick Airport. Currently based aircraft include several corporate helicopters and a dealership for Beechcraft is established here. From 1 April 1998 The Queen's Helicopter has been based there.

On 15 July 1978, the airfield was the location for an open-air concert, the Picnic at Blackbushe, which was attended by some 200,000 people. Bob Dylan headlined, with support from Eric Clapton, Joan Armatrading, Graham Parker and the Rumour, Lake, and Merger.

The airport is now open to the general public and is very popular for walks around its perimeter and to see the wildlife in Yateley Common.

Overall, Blackbushe Airport is very significant in the UK's aviation history.

Accidents and Incidents[edit]

As well as there being plane accidents, there have been many fires within the forests, some natural, others, man made.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blackbushe - EGLK
  2. ^ Civil Aviation Authority Aerodrome Ordinary Licences
  3. ^ Blackbushe Airport Limited. "The History of Blackbushe Airport". Blackbushe Airport. Retrieved 2006-07-14. 
  4. ^ "Accident description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 6 September 2009. 

External links[edit]