Lasham Airfield

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Lasham Airfield
Lasham Airfield.jpg
IATA: QLAICAO: EGHL
Summary
Airport type Private
Operator Lasham Gliding Society
Serves Lasham, Hampshire, England
Location Alton
Elevation AMSL 618 ft / 188 m
Coordinates 51°11′14″N 001°02′01″W / 51.18722°N 1.03361°W / 51.18722; -1.03361Coordinates: 51°11′14″N 001°02′01″W / 51.18722°N 1.03361°W / 51.18722; -1.03361
Map
EGHL is located in Hampshire
EGHL
EGHL
Location in Hampshire
Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
09/27 1,797 5,896 Asphalt

Lasham Airfield (IATA: QLAICAO: EGHL) is located 3.6 miles (5.8 km) north-west of Alton in Hampshire, England, in the village of Lasham.

It was built in 1942 and was a RAF Station during the Second World War, many significant operations being flown from it. The RAF ceased operations at Lasham in 1948, but a military aircraft company, General Aircraft Ltd, continued to fly from the airfield. From 1951 the main activity at Lasham airfield became recreational gliding.

The airfield is now owned by the largest British gliding club, also one of the world's largest, Lasham Gliding Society (LGS). It is also the location for ATC Lasham Ltd, a company that maintains airliners, mainly those made by Boeing. These land at and depart from the airfield purely for maintenance or storage purposes, though their movements have to be co-ordinated with gliding activities.

Pilots of powered aircraft visiting the airfield require prior permission and a briefing on its hazards: in particular dense concentrations of thermalling gliders (up to 100 gliders can be in the vicinity at once), winch cables up to 3,000 ft (910 m) above the ground, and occasional movements of large jet airliners. Over-flying aircraft are requested to not fly below 3,618 ft (1,103 m) QNH. The airfield frequency is 131.025 MHz.

Military history[edit]

The airfield was constructed in 1942. Initial operations (from November that year) were by 38 Wing, Army Co-operation Command.

Maps of the area before and after the airfield was constructed are displayed in the main corridor of the clubhouse of Lasham Gliding Society on the North side of the airfield off Avenue Road. Also displayed are photographs and other details of aircraft and personnel of the squadrons that flew from Lasham and are listed below.

In mid-1943, the airfield was transferred to RAF Fighter Command. Squadrons equipped with Hawker Hurricanes, Hawker Typhoons and Spitfires operated from Lasham. Later in 1943, it became a base for the bombers of No. 2 Group RAF, part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force. The squadrons of 2 Group used the de Havilland Mosquito and North American B-25 Mitchell.

Squadrons based at Lasham during the war[edit]

(apart from one- or two-night stays)

A notable operation was by 613 Squadron. On 14 April 1944, at the request of resistance workers, six Mosquitos led by Wing Commander Robert Bateson bombed the Central Records Registry of the Gestapo in the Hague from a height of 50 ft (15 m). The accuracy was such that the incriminating records were burnt. There was loss of life amongst the Dutch and German staff, but there were few civilian casualties in the nearby streets.

On the nights preceding and following D-Day, the Mosquitos of 305 and 613 squadrons carried out low level attacks on enemy supply lines and armoured positions in Normandy to assist the allied landing forces.

Post-war[edit]

The airfield ceased to be an operational Royal Air Force station in 1948, though General Aircraft Ltd continued testing military gliders there. On 14 September 2006, a memorial at the entrance was dedicated to those who served at Lasham between 1942 and 1948.

In the 1960s the Space Department of the Royal Aircraft Establishment with its HQ at Farnborough, sited a number of satellite tracking and receiving dish aerials on the south side of Lasham airfield, one enclosed in a large white dome. These have now been removed, as have most of the buildings dating from World War II.

Gliding[edit]

Early days[edit]

In 1950 the Army Gliding Club was re-established by Major Tony Deane-Drummond, then an instructor at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. It operated at Odiham Airfield but after two accidents, the Commandant of Sandhurst ordered it to suspend operations. In early 1951 he ordered Major Deane-Drummond to restart the club at Lasham. In the meantime, the Surrey Gliding Club and Imperial College Gliding Club were both seeking a new home, because Redhill Aerodrome had many other users. The Surrey club and Imperial College therefore moved to Lasham in August 1951.

Lasham Gliding Society[edit]

Competition grid at Lasham Airfield in 2009

Lasham Gliding Society (LGS) was established in 1958 to unify operations of the gliding clubs that had been operating since 1951. It later signed a long lease on the airfield from the Ministry of Defence. The airfield's boundaries were reduced but it still occupies over 500 acres (200 ha).

212 gliders are based at Lasham which are used by 666 members, plus social members.[1] The airfield is in constant use throughout the year and regularly hosts national and regional gliding championships. Oerlinghausen Airfield claims to be the world's largest gliding club with "around 25,000" glider launches annually[2] whereas Lasham launched 25,746 gliders in the year to 31 October 2010.[3] There are approximately 59,000 aircraft movements (departures and landings) annually (compared with Southampton Airport's 43,350).

In 1999, Lasham Gliding Society completed the purchase from the Ministry of Defence of the freehold to the airfield, making the final payment in 2001. It now owns all of the land within the fenced and gated area as well as the fields that form the undershoot area at each end of the main runway. The Society lets some land to an aircraft maintenance company, ATC Lasham Ltd. This company uses the main runway several times a week to bring in airliners for overhauls and is the largest employer in the area. Other land and buildings are let to local farmers and businesses.

LGS K13 glider landing

LGS's 90+[1] instructors train new pilots at all stages from Ab initio through to competitive cross-country flying. The training fleet consists of the following types:

The club uses two Skylaunch winches, normally delivering launch heights of 1500 ft and over 2000 ft in strong winds. The Club also operates five tugs:

and can call on several privately owned tugs in busy periods.

There are 198[1] other gliders at the airfield operated by private owners and by affiliated gliding clubs: Imperial College Gliding Club, University of Surrey Gliding Club, Southampton University Gliding Club, The Crown Service Gliding Club and the IBM Gliding Club. Lasham Youth run a Saturday Evening gliding course during the summer months which is open to everyone, providing an environment where young members can fly with people of similar ages.

Derek Piggott was Chief Flying Instructor at Lasham during much of the period from 1953 to 1989. Ann Welch, Nicholas Goodhart, Frank Irving and Peter Twiss were also members for many years.

ATC Lasham[edit]

In 1954 Dan-Air established a subsidiary, Dan-Air Engineering, at Lasham Airfield to service its own fleet and aircraft belonging to other operators. From the 1960s to 1980s, Lasham hosted a number of unusual aircraft - notably one of only two surviving Avro Yorks (G-ANTK in Dan-Air colours) - and was the resting home of aircraft from around the world which came to be scrapped. Dan-Air ceased trading in 1992, and after a period of operation by FLS Aerospace, the facility has now been let by the society to aircraft maintenance company ATC Lasham. The company uses the main runway several times a week to bring in airliners for overhauls.

ATC Lasham has occasionally provided storage for redundant aircraft. In 2008 these included aircraft from XL Airways UK, Futura International Airways, Zoom Airlines.[4] Six bmibaby 737s arrived in 2012 when the airline closed.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Verified with LGS management accounts June 2012
  2. ^ Oerlinghausen web site Accessed 12 Jan 2011
  3. ^ LGS management accounts for year to 31 October 2010
  4. ^ "Pictured: The graveyard where 'credit crunched' budget airlines send unwanted passenger jets". Daily Mail. 2008-11-07. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 

External links[edit]