Portsmouth Naval Gliding Centre To Close At Daedalus


War Hero


Portsmouth Naval Gliding Centre’s Board of Trustees and Directors met yesterday (Monday 30 Apr 18) to assess the viability of future operations at Daedalus airfield at Lee-on-the-Solent. It recently received Fareham Borough Council’s eviction order from its hangars; a new tenancy offer for land only; and sharply increased new tariffs and further flight restrictions imposed by the Daedalus airfield management, Regional and City Airports Ltd.

Facing increasing financial losses since FBC took ownership of the former Naval Air Station three years ago, PNGC’s Board decided that these latest demands no longer allow a viable, affordable future for gliding at the airfield. It will accordingly close later this month.

The club is an Armed Forces charity and able to continue sharing the running costs of the airfield and to remain cost-neutral to the local community, but RCA’s imposed restrictions on gliding reduce income substantially. This leaves sharply increased new charges for aircraft parking, hangars and flight operations well beyond the club’s means. PNGC understands the needs of the Council and RCA to maximise their incomes, but the latest demands further increase PNGC’s business losses, despite many efforts to stem these over the past 3 years.

The flight restrictions to gliding are understood not to have been imposed by aviation regulators or Authorities, while formal requests to FBC and RCA senior leaders to disclose their reasons, have not met with any response.

The Navy has also used it extensively to develop essential leadership and teamwork skills for its serving personnel, as well as aircrew recruitment at minimal cost to the public purse. MOD(Navy) also confirmed in writing late on Friday that the Fareham Council had declined its historical annual financial contribution to PNGC operations at Daedalus for its use of the amenity. That funding was accordingly now no longer available.

Following recent public opposition to the threats of closure, FBC offered an outdoors area without hangars or covered storage, (Images), but it was deemed unfit for aircraft to stand on safely and lacked the security of tenure needed for new site or buildings investment.

The closure of this amenity ends more than sixty years of gliding at the popular coastal site, which is open to all, and comes at a harsh penalty especially to people seeking to develop flying skills for careers in aviation in line with the Council’s approved ‘Vision’ for Daedalus and the objectives of the Local Enterprise Zone.

PNGC has appreciated the high levels of public support, and immensely enjoyed meeting and serving so many of the local community as well as Royal Navy personnel in the area over sixty or more years of operating at Daedalus. Hundreds, into thousands, of young people have benefitted from the club and its volunteer instructors as an affordable means of entering successful military and civil aviation careers. Other regular users include youth groups, serving personnel of all three Armed Forces, City Livery Company charity beneficiaries and disabled or blind veterans whose remaining senses are stimulated by the feel of silent flight, even without the spectacular views. All PNGC members deeply regret the losses for these and the very many other people who would have benefitted in future.

No alternative site has yet been identified and the club will close at Daedalus on 31 May 18.

Please contact us for further information."



War Hero
Portsmouth News:

"Anger as decades-old gliding club says it feels forced to leave its home at Daedalus

Trustees and members of the Portsmouth Naval Gliding Centre are ‘angry’ after feeling forced to take the decision to close. The PNCG club, based at Daedalus airfield in Lee-on-the-Solent, was founded in 1945 offering the chance for locals to fly gliders, and said it was served an eviction notice by Fareham Borough Council.