VETERANS, aviation fans and dignitaries all gathered to mark the reopening of a runway today.
The Solent Enterprise Zone at Daedalus, a former Royal Navy airfield, in Lee-on-the-Solent, officially reopened its runway after a £1.5m boost from Fareham Borough Council.
A commemorative flight piloted by council leader Sean Woodward took off from the resurfaced runway to mark the occasion.
Cllr Woodward said: ‘A splendid job has been done. This really puts Daedalus on the map, it shows that Fareham Borough Council means business in terms of generating jobs for aviation, aerospace and marine.
‘We will be making huge investments in the site as the time goes by.’
He said that around £50m would be invested into the site to boost the local economy and bring thousands of skilled jobs to area.
The runway will serve businesses at the Enterprise Zone, including those based at the new Innovation Centre, which will support new businesses.
Cllr Woodward said that today’s reopening was an ‘important step’ towards the site gaining a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Aerodrome licence that will allow a greater variety of planes to use the airfield.
The project, funded by Fareham Borough Council, included resurfacing and relining the main runway, repairs to taxiways and the installation of ducting to enable the future provision of runway lighting.
Veterans Fred Bellchamber, 91, and Peter Garrod, 94, who worked at Daedalus during the Second World War were at the unveiling.
Mr Bellchamber, from Southsea, said: ‘We slept on the airfield and refuelled the planes when they came in. I am very pleased to come back here.’
Also welcoming the runway reopening was Jon Butts, chairman of Lee Flying Association.
Mr Butts said: ‘We applaud the renewal of the main runway, which secures the future of flying operations at Daedalus and preserves for the long term the highly-valued open aerodrome space as we enter a second century of aviation at Daedalus.’