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Save Maypole Airfield from The Developers?

I’ve just returned from a fifteen minute loiter above Thanet in the fog, to find the road through the village of Hoath to the A229 dotted with fluorescent red posters asking people to “Fight further development of the Maypole airstrip”.



What development is this I wondered? After all, Maypole is a farm strip to the West of the village and my own little Cessna is tied-down on the grass there together with an assortment of around ten other light aircraft, most of which are rarely used.

Could it be an unpublished extension to the runway at Manston, ‘Kent International’ airport, ten miles to the East or perhaps the Defense Minister, Geof Hoon, plans to move what’s left of the RAF to a tiny stretch of grass in Kent which doubles as a livery stables?

In fact, to find Maypole, you have to know where it is, a ‘Catch-22’, which took me three years before I found the gate. There are, I'm told, people in the village of Hoath, adjacent to the airstrips who don’t know where it is either, so coming across this protest comes as a surprise to me and other pilots.

Village of Hoath on the left

I think we need to be accurate about that emotional word ‘Development’. People are worried about the further development of Manston, to accommodate even larger, cargo-carrying aircraft and they are also worried about the development of Gatwick and a plan for the development of a new London airport in the Thames estuary.

Maypole is just a little different in terms of development because no concrete is involved. I supported the application, we made for additional air movements per week from Canterbury council. The reason behind this is that on one of those rare and perfect summer days, it’s possible that everyone might just want to go flying or as in the case of the summer fete, we could have more movements so that we can give rides to the village children.

On most days, like today, with just three flights showing, Maypole isn’t exactly on a par with Heathrow’s runway 27. The flight path doesn’t intersect the village at any point and the horses and the sheep have lost interest in the aircraft. Why I wonder has someone decided that this mythical ‘development’ is a threat to the local environment and posted the news in fluorescent red too. But there’s a hidden agenda I’m sure. There always is

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