Clear skies ahead for gliding club as airfield deal agreed

A NORTH Yorkshire gliding club has helped secure the future of an historic airfield where it has been based for the past three decades, after securing a new lease with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Burn Airfield, near Selby, was one of 12 major airfields operating in the county during the Second World War, and was used as a base for Halifax bombers to launch raids against Germany’s largest cities, including one in which RAF pilot Cyril Barton earned a posthumously-awarded Victoria Cross.

The airfield, which is valued at around £2m, was one of 40 undecided assets belonging to the abolished regional development agency Yorkshire Forward, and fears were growing that it would be sold after the current lease expired in February.

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Now Burn Gliding Club, which has more than 100 members aged between 13 and 91, has announced it has agreed a new three-year lease with the HCA to remain on the site.

The club has also confirmed that it is prepared to make an offer to purchase the parts of the airfield that it requires.

Chairman Tony Flannery said: “After several months of concern about our future at Burn, we are delighted that the club’s home there is secure.

“We can now plan to improve the facilities and continue to teach local people, especially youngsters, to fly so that they can enjoy the sport of gliding.”

The club says the HCA has indicated that, at the end of the three year period, it will renew the lease unless it has found another use for the airfield or wants to sell the land.

The airfield – which was strafed by Luftwaffe planes during the Second World War – has come under threat several times in recent years.

It was one of three sites earmarked by North Yorkshire County Council for an incinerator site – which has since been placed at Allerton Park between Harrogate and York – while £1bn plans to build a European Spallation Source project at the site, a science development creating around 2,000 jobs, also fell through.

Last year, veterans from the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association took flying lessons at the airfield.