FIFE (Glenrothes) – United Kingdom
ONE LOOKS IN vain for airfields that were specially built to serve any of the new towns in England, such as Milton Keynes, Telford and Washington. Two of the Scottish new town development corporations (Cumbernauld and Glenrothes) each included local airfields in their original planning. Both towns now have thriving General Aviation aerodromes with flying training, private aircraft based there, and business flights supporting the many companies established in these new towns.
Fife Airport opened on April 6 1964. Throughout its early years it operated as a grass airfield (then under the less pretentious name of plain ‘Glenrothes’). It became the base of the Scottish Air Scouts’ Auster and Sedbergh glider and was home to a growing number of light aircraft, including those of a succession of flying school operations. In 1974, Glencair (Aero Services) was given a 25 year lease to operate the airfield and soon hangar and maintenance facilities were under construction. Parachuting joined the aerial activities for a while. When I made my first visit to Glenrothes in June 1978, it was a bustlingly, busy place, being the final check point for the Scottish International Air Rally that year, with Douglas Bader presenting the prizes.
Two years later the grass runway was replaced by 700 metres of tarmac and this was followed by a small Control Tower, taxiways, a GA parking apron beside the terminal and a bar/restaurant. Various flying training ventures came and went until in 1984 Fife Aero Club was formed, offering a range of flying training from PPL to twin ratings. Missionary Aviation Fellowship training for flying in third-world countries was carried out at Glenrothes in the mid-eighties.
This all came to an abrupt halt in the early nineties when, under the terms of its constitution, Glenrothes Development Corporation had to dispose of the aerodrome and did so to a buyer with big ideas who appears to have lacked the wherewithal to carry these ideas out. Instead of the promised extended runway and enlarged business airport terminal, Glenrothes closed in 1993, with white crosses painted on its disused runway and sad-looking, derelict hangars, Tower and terminal building.
At this juncture the present operators, Tayside Aviation, stepped in to rescue what is now one of the jewels in the UK’s General Aviation crown. Tayside was already running a thriving flying training bAirfield Postcode: KY6 2SLAirfield Website: http://www.taysideaviation.co.uk