Llanbedr Airport

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Llanbedr Airport
Llanbedr Hangars - geograph.org.uk - 420619.jpg
Looking westwards from Llanbedr across the airfield with the Llyn Peninsula in the background.
Summary
Airport type Private-owned, Public-use
Owner Llanbedr Airfield Estates LLP
Location Llanbedr, Gwynedd
Elevation AMSL 80 ft / 24 m
Coordinates 52°48′18″N 004°07′38″W / 52.80500°N 4.12722°W / 52.80500; -4.12722Coordinates: 52°48′18″N 004°07′38″W / 52.80500°N 4.12722°W / 52.80500; -4.12722
Map
EGOD is located in Gwynedd
EGOD
EGOD
Location in Gwynedd
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
05/23 4,328 1,319 Asphalt
15/33 4,207 1,282 Asphalt
17/35 7,500 2,286 Asphalt

Llanbedr Airport (ICAO: EGFD), formerly RAE Llanbedr (ICAO: EGOD), is an operational general aviation airport located in the Snowdonia National Park near the village of Llanbedr, Gwynedd, northwest Wales.

History[edit]

It opened in 1941 as part of RAF Fighter Command's 12 Group.[1] During its life, the base has been known as:

  • RAF Llanbedr until 1957
  • RAE Llanbedr until 1992
  • T&EE Llanbedr (Test & Evaluation Establishment) until 1995.
  • DTEO Llanbedr (Defence Test & Evaluation Organisation) until 1997
  • DERA Llanbedr until 2001, when most of DERA became QinetiQ.

The site was (from Spring 1942) an operational base for Towed Target (and in 1943, became the home of the RAF's No. 12 Fighter Gunnery School), and later, Target Drone services to the UK Armed Forces.[2] Target provision services were typically to the Cardigan Bay Ranges[3] (UK Danger Area EGD201, under the control of Aberporth) but Llanbedr targets also worked other UK ranges, including the Royal Artillery range off the Hebrides and occasionally overseas.[4]

During the Second World War, RAF Llanbedr was home to thirty-two different RAF Squadrons on rotation who flew a variety of aircraft (Spitfire, Mustang, Typhoon, Anson, Lysander and Martinet). The longest serving Squadron was No. 631 Squadron (RAF) who arrived at Llanbedr in May 1945 from RAF Towyn and stayed until February 1949. The Squadron was re-numbered as No. 20 Squadron RAF.[5][6]

Post RAF[edit]

From 1957, civilianisation of the base services (typically airfield operation) began with Short Brothers holding a series of contracts until 1979, when Airwork Services took over and held them until 1991. In 1991, contracts and scope of work changed again and FR Serco took over its running.

Secondarily, it served as a Royal Air Force V bomber dispersal airfield, more recently used for military weapons training. The site closed in October 2004.[2] Navigational and ATC equipment was removed by the military and the site put up for sale.

In May 2014 the airport re-opened, catering for the needs of general aviation activities in the area.[3]

Recent events[edit]

In recent years, the site has been used for agricultural purposes under the terms of an agreement with the Welsh Government, the current site owners.

It was reported in February 2008 that Welsh Ministers had awarded preferred bidder status for a 125-year lease to the operators of Kemble Airport near Cirencester.[7][8] In May 2008, the Snowdonia Society, the Brecon Beacons Park Society and the Friends of Pembrokeshire National Park formed an alliance against the development of a new civilian airport at the site without a full public debate "best achieved by making an application for planning permission".[9]

This campaign has been opposed by members of the local population who are in favour of the reuse and redevelopment of the site. A paper-based petition in favour of Kemble's plans for the airfield attracted over a thousand signatures, while an e-petition from the Snowdonia Society received 156.

In December 2008, the Welsh Government gave the go-head for Kemble to take over the airfield, subject to Kemble obtaining the "relevant permissions and consents."[10] In November 2009, the Snowdonia National Park Authority took external legal advice and refused to issue certificates of lawful use to Kemble. In August 2011, a certificate was granted to Llanbedr Airfield Estates for use of the airport to test and develop unmanned aerial vehicles.[11]

In August 2012, permission was granted to turn the airfield into a yard for the dismantling of airliners.[12]

In January 2013 the Welsh Government included the site in the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone.

In June 2014 Fly Llanbedr Limited were awarded their licence to run a flight training and air experience operation from Llanbedr Airfield.[3]

In July 2014 it was named as one of 8 possible locations for the UK spaceport the British government is looking to establish by 2018.[13] The shortlist was reduced to 6 airports in March 2015, with Llanbedr still a candidate.[14]

In June 2015 one of the hangars at Llanbedr Airfield was used for the Red Bull Air Race Barnstorming stunt, where Red Bull Air Race pilots Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones flew two modified Xtreme Air Sbach XA41's in formation through the hangar itself.[15]

In September 2015 the London Gliding Club based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire held an expedition to the airfield in order to take advantage of the unique soaring opportunities that the Site has to offer, which are often not accessible to soaring glider's originating from inland. In three weeks the club achieved 254 movements, with 436 flying hours recorded.[16]

In September 2016 the London Gliding Club based in Dunstable, Bedfordshire held another expedition to the airfield. In three weeks the club achieved 262 movements, with 455 flying hours recorded.[17]

List of types flown from Llanbedr[edit]

Target tug[edit]

Target drones[edit]

  • Fairey Firefly U.8, U.9
  • Gloster Meteor U.14, U.15, U.16
  • GAF Jindivik various marks
  • de Havilland Sea Vixen D.3 XS577 & XP924 from 1973 to 1991 latter now G-CVIX with De Havilland Aviation, Bournemouth. Since September 2014 XP924 has moved to Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, Somerset. The aircraft is now owned by Naval Aviation Ltd and funded by the Fly Navy Heritage Trust and operated as a display aircraft.

Communication and ferry role[edit]

Fast radar target/shepherding role for unmanned target drones/photochase[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Willis S & B R Holliss (1987) Military Airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945 (Omnibus Edition), Woolnough Bookbinding Ltd, Northants, 283 pp, ISBN 0-907700-12-8
  2. ^ a b Delve 2007, p. 186.
  3. ^ a b c Jones, Geoff (25 June 2014). "Welcome to Llanbedr". Pilotweb.aero. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  4. ^ "Llanbedr". Abandoned, forgotten and little known airfields in Europe. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  5. ^ "No. 631 Sqn". Royal Air Force. Royal Air Force. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  6. ^ Delve 2007, p. 187.
  7. ^ "Successful airport operator in pole position for Llanbedr airfield". Western Mail. 27 February 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2008. 
  8. ^ "Airfield takeover by private firm". BBC Wales News. 26 February 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2008. 
  9. ^ "Airport will 'ruin' national park". BBC Wales News. 7 May 2008. Retrieved 7 May 2008. 
  10. ^ "Park airfield sale given go-ahead". BBC News. 16 December 2008. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  11. ^ "Plans for military airfield in Snowdonia welcomed". BBC News. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "Airliner scrapyard plans go ahead at Llanbedr Airfield". BBC News. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Scotland could be base for spaceport, says UK government". BBC News. BBC. BBC News. 13 July 2014. Retrieved 13 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Amos, Jonathan (3 March 2015). "UK ministers issue spaceport shortlist". BBC News Online. Retrieved 3 March 2015. 
  15. ^ "Red Bull Barnstorming - Behind the Scenes". Red Bull. Greg Stuart. Red Bull. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  16. ^ "Rob's Blog - Llanbedr Stats". Robin May. Robin May. WordPress. 20 September 2015. Retrieved 15 October 2015. 
  17. ^ "Rob's Blog - Llanbedr Stats 2016". Robin May. Robin May. WordPress. 28 September 2016. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Delve, Ken (2007). The military airfields of Britain; Wales and West Midlands. Marlborough: Crowood Press. ISBN 978-1-861269-17-1. 
  • Mike Hollingsworth MBE; Gordon Campbell Owen BD AMRAeS (2004). Fireflash to Skyflash. RAF Benevolent Fund. ISBN 1-89980-812-4. 
  • Mills, J. Wendy F. (2002). Target Rolling: A History of Llanbedr Airfield. Hinckley, UK: Midland Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 1-85780-136-9. 

External links[edit]