A petition has been raised to oppose a proposal, backed by Surrey Heath Borough Council (SHBC), for developers to turn Fairoaks Aerodrome into a ‘garden village’ with 1,500 new homes.

Fairoaks – originally known as Dolly’s Farm ­ – is one of only two active general aviation airfields in Surrey, and has a long history. Commissioned by the Air Ministry in 1937 to provide the then rapidly growing need to train military pilots, No18 Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School’s Tiger Moths moved in even before construction had been completed. During WWII more than 6,000 pilots trained there, and the airfield also served as a repair station for light bombers such as Bristol Blenheims, Beaufighters and Beauforts.

In 1946 Universal Flying Services began civilian operations with Fairoaks Flying Club, and over the following years many flying clubs and private owners made Fairoaks their base. Owners, and those who learned to fly there included well-known names, among them film star Cliff Robertson, comedian Dick Emery, Ian Whittle, son of Sir Frank, and a number of luminaries from the motor racing community, including Mike Hawthorn, Ron Flockhart, Duncan Hamilton, Jack Brabham and John Cooper

‘Fairoaks is the only airport in Surrey that can be operated 24/7 for medical emergencies and organ air transport services,’ say ‘Protect Fairoaks’ campaigners. ‘ ‘There were 152 such medical flights/movements recorded there in 2016. It’s home to scores of light and small business aircraft, a flying school and related businesses. Where can they go if Fairoaks closes? The majority of local people want Fairoaks to remain as a working airport, and a petition to SHBC has been set up. It already has 2,000 signatures, but at least 3,500 are needed for this petition to be debated at a meeting of the Full Council, and that’s practically the whole population of Chobham.’

The 3,500 signature target was hit at AeroExpo thanks to visitors signing it through a live link provided by Protect Fairoaks at their stand. However, the more people who sign, the more weight it will carry with the local Council. As Pilot Editor Philip Whiteman urges in the July edition of the magazine, ‘it’s not a huge ask… if 10,000-plus Pilot readers were to add their voice to the campaign, just think what message that might send!’

The deadline for signatures is 24 June, but you don’t have to live in the area or even the UK to sign the petition, which can be found at: http://petitions.surreyheath.gov.uk/ProtectFairoaks/

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