Red tape leaves show grounded
It attracted thousands of people and raised cash for charity - but now Wings & Things is grounded
AVIATION fans have been left stunned by news that Woodchurch Wings & Things has been cancelled.
The annual air display, regularly attended by up to 8,000 people from across the country, will not be staged this year due to spiralling costs and bureaucracy.
The show, which featured such classic aircraft as Spitfires and the Sally B bomber, also benefited many charities, not least Woodchurch Museum. Its future, after 18 years, is in serious doubt. Museum trustee and air show organiser Charles Boxer, pictured right, said: “The aviation Press reckons that Woodchurch Wings & Things is probably the finest air display in the country. It will be sadly missed.”
The organisers’ tough decision was based on the ever-increasing costs of health and safety, fuel, insurance and the flying of the vintage machines.
Mr Boxer said: “It costs £20,000 to put on the show and owning and running a plane like a Spitfire can cost about £30,000 a year.
“Flying costs have gone through the roof and aviation fuel, in a only a few weeks, has gone from 90p a litre to £1.20.”
He added: “We have to have paramedics. Kent Ambulance Trust is now the South Coast Ambulance Service, but when it was Kent it never charged us, it was part of their public duty.
“Then it started to charge in a moderate way and then charged at the full rate which was a four-figure sum for one day.”
The organisers relied increasingly on St John Ambulance, in keeping with their dependence on volunteers, such as the local air training corps who manned the car parks.
The ATC were among those who benefited, relying on proceeds from the charity show to fund their minibus.
Other charities helped by the show included the Pilgrims Hospice and Kent Air Ambulance.
While big-time air shows may keep pilots and their aircraft busy and offer a glimmer of hope for charity shows like Woodchurch, the immediate future is grim.
Mr Boxer said: “You question your sanity each year, but the real buzz comes at the end of the show when you see the look on the faces of people leaving which says what a great day.”
Airfield owner Rob Davies with his Mustang