Concern over future of gliding centre as developments planned at Daedalus

Daedalus Airfield  Picture: Commission Air
Daedalus Airfield Picture: Commission Air
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FEARS have been raised over the aviation industry after the future of a popular gliding centre was cast into doubt.

Portsmouth Naval Gliding Centre at Daedalus Airfield in Lee-on-the-Solent could be under threat, after a decision made by the airfield’s management.

Winch launching for the gliders will be forbidden as of April, though using a tug to launch gliders will still be possible.

But some believe that this is the writing on the wall for the centre as additional developments are pushed on to the site.

The ball is now in the court of the PNGC to decide whether to stay at Daedalus or to relocate to a new site.

It was established as the Portsmouth Naval Gliding Club in 1917. Primarily aimed at the armed forces, the centre has also been used to inspire young people to get into the aviation industry.

Scout leaders say that the news is not only a major blow to Scout groups, but could also impact on the region’s aviation industry as a whole.

Leader of the Sixth Gosport Air Scouts Theresa Craven said: ‘We try to do a lot of air activities and Portsmouth Naval Gliding Centre is both local and affordable.

‘For the gliding centre to be put to one side like this is quite worrying.

‘If anything happened to it, we would have to go much further afield for activities, as would many other Scouts in the surrounding area.’

Over the past 10 years more than 1,500 Scouts from across the region have flown at the centre, with some going on to take jobs in the aviation industry.

Theresa said: ‘If things carry on in this direction, I think the aviation industry will really suffer.

‘It is quite sad, when you think about it.’

A spokeswoman from Fareham Borough Council said: ‘The council has been very happy to assist the gliding centre with its operations at Daedalus over the years, where they have enjoyed subsidised hangarage and use of the airfield over the last three years.

‘We have explained to PNGC that due to the works and the increasing growth at the airport, and following discussions with the Civil Aviation Authority, it is unfortunately no longer possible for winch launching to continue as it is not compatible with airport operations.

‘The facility for using the tug to launch gliders is still available.

‘It is important that we do not compromise safety at the airfield or our growth plans, which are vital if Daedalus is to remain in use as an airfield.’