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