This ex-wartime air­field is com­fort­ably es­tab­lished within its lo­cal com­mu­nity – it is also ex­cep­tion­ally wel­com­ing to vis­it­ing pi­lots

Pilot - - AIRFIELD PROFILE - Words & Pho­tos Nick Bloom

Some air­fields are tense places. In this se­ries of air­field pro­files (now in its sev­enth year) I have en­coun­tered ris­ing prices, noise com­plaints from neigh­bours, com­pet­ing clubs fight­ing for de­clin­ing busi­ness, of­fi­cious man­age­ment ob­sessed with health and safety and se­cu­rity, and pas­sen­ger or busi­ness jets shoul­der­ing light air­craft aside. Th­ese days, the threat is in­creas­ingly from the need to build houses; greedy own­ers and an un­car­ing lo­cal au­thor­ity can wipe a lo­cal air­port off the map.

So it’s great to visit a place like Wolver­hamp­ton Half­penny Green Air­port, which is won­der­fully re­laxed. Land­ing fees are mod­est, it’s out­side con­trolled airspace and the FISOS are tol­er­ant of stum­bling com­mu­ni­ca­tors like me (af­ter an hour in an open cock­pit, most of my brain cells have gone off-line). There is one slight con­cern, though: the air­field was sold in Novem­ber by one prop­erty com­pany to an­other. How­ever, it’s thought that the lo­cal au­thor­ity is firmly against a switch to hous­ing.

A reader sug­gested Wolver­hamp­ton to­wards the end of last year, say­ing it was high time we cov­ered such a great air­field. Since then just about ev­ery week­end has had bad weather, so it’s only now in late Fe­bru­ary that I’m fi­nally head­ing up the M40 on my way there. The weather is ‘iffy’, even now−too un­cer­tain for fly­ing up−and maybe bad enough to di­vert lo­cal pi­lots into other Satur­day ac­tiv­i­ties (such as the dreaded su­per­mar­ket run). The last part of the jour­ney takes me into a maze of pleas­ant coun­try lanes. The land­scape is rugged and has some fine Vic­to­rian vil­las to ad­mire. How­ever, the roads are not very well sign­posted and just when a lo­cal tells me the air­port en­trance is, “Up there mate, can’t miss it,” I get a flat tyre and have to stop and change it.

As I drive through the en­trance I can see that Wolver­hamp­ton Half­penny Green is a typ­i­cal EX-RAF site, with orig­i­nal con­trol tower, green-painted hangars and many small brick build­ings, plus some later ad­di­tions. All fa­mil­iar, com­fort­able and thor­oughly worn-in.

Orig­i­nally, it was called RAF Bob­bing­ton−bob­bing­ton vil­lage be­ing fairly large and close to the site req­ui­si­tioned by the Air Min­istry in 1939.

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