Campaign Week 3: South Warwickshire Flying School

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South Warwickshire Flying School directors Paddy Elliott and Rodney Galiffe.

THE South Warwickshire Flying School is one of the oldest businesses at Wellesbourne Airfield having been established in 1982. Present owner Rodney Galiffe became manager of the business in 1989 before later purchasing the company, and has seen the school train hundreds of pilots since that time.

Rodney says losing the airfield would not just be a blow to the flying school and the other organisations on the site, but also to the many other businesses in the surrounding area who rely on the facility to bring in custom.

A former soldier and pilot, Rodney has overseen the expansion of the business to the point where it currently employs ten instructors and examiners and runs six aircraft.

The South Warwickshire Flying School trains 30-35 pilots each year in addition to taking on scholarships from the Combined Cadet Force and the Air League.

The flying school also provides one scholarship each year on behalf of Prince Philip, who originally flew in to officially open the airfield almost 35 years ago.

In addition to this, the school, which runs seven days a week, has 170 pilot members, who are able to make use of the school’s planes.

The informal, professional and friendly culture at the school provides a great atmosphere for people who are trying to get their wings.

Rodney said: “Wellesbourne Airfield is ideal for us, it’s centrally located, the weather conditions are excellent and the surrounding area offers ample accommodation.

If the airfield was to go it would be a loss to all these businesses too.

“Because the threat to the airfield has been going on for a long time, we were not really shocked to get the Section 25 notice and I wrote back to them straight away. It’s a tactic which we thought they might use before.

“To lose the airfield would be a great loss to the community, there’s no other aerodrome in the area that offers this type of facility, I think it would be the end of the business if we were forced to leave.

“It’s saddening to see that after all these years of the airfield being here that it should come to the threat of closure just because there’s currently a glut of housing being asked for.

“I’m quite hopeful though, I think this will remain an airfield for a few years yet, maybe forever.”