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End of an era as Biggin Hill Air Fair cancelled after nearly five decades

PUBLISHED: 14:49 07 October 2010 | UPDATED: 15:56 08 October 2010

Biggin Hill Airshow
Biggin Hill Airport
Biggin Hill

Biggin Hill Airshow Biggin Hill Airport Biggin Hill

Andy Barnes

One of the world’s best known aviation events- the Biggin Hill International Air Fair - has been cancelled after 48 years.

Biggin Hill Airshow
Biggin Hill Airport
Biggin Hill

Members of Biggin Hill Airport Limited (BHAL) made the announcement this afternoon following a meeting to decide the show’s fate.

They acquired the show in July from Air Displays International (ADI) which had run the show for nearly five decades. At the time, airport owner Andrew Walters vowed the ‘show would go on’ but has now reneged on his promise.

Instead, the airport will take part in a London-wide architecture festival ‘Open House’ in September 2011 where visitors can take tours around the historic airfield, famous for its formidable role in the Second World War.

A spokesperson for the airport said there were a number of issues they now needed to take into consideration, including the financial risk in the future and if it would cause disruption to businesses based there as the airfield is closed for a large part of June.

Biggin Hill Airshow

Biggin Hill Airport

Biggin Hill

Red Arrows

It spells the end of the stomach-churning stunts and displays by the world’s best aerobatics teams, including the RAF’s Red Arrows, for which the show became known.

Squadron Leader Jock Maitland, 86, took a lease from Bromley council for the airport in 1958, establishing the air show five years later under his company ADI.

The airport was privatised in 1988 and in 1994 BHAL bought it and granted them a 25-year licence for the air fair.

But the company controversially had its licence terminated three years early in July this year, making six people redundant.

The airport said the contract’s legality was now questionable because Jock Maitland, to whom the licence was originally granted, was no longer involved.

Airport owner Andrew Walters said: “Jock Maitland, his son Jim and Colin Hitchins in more recent years, have promoted and presided over a magnificent air show for almost half a century. But now is time for change, putting the community first and giving us the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to them.”

This week the Times features pleas from residents, businesses and the former chief executive of Air Displays International, Colin Hitchins, who believed there was no reason for BHAL to take control of the air fair.

See Bromley Times for full story.

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