One personal thing I must highlight about Panshanger Aerodrome is that without it, I would not have chosen my career path nor sit in the position I am today. Panshanger, being so local to me and thousands of others, it gave many an opportunity to escape to the peaceful countryside setting, yet still be within a 25 mile radius of the London. Not only did this encourage young amateur pilots and enthusiasts like myself, but it attracted a niche richer type of clientele to the area also. Being so close to an aerodrome situated within Welwyn and Hatfield frankly was the sole inspiration for me to get into aviation.  The closer I was to aviation, the more I found myself interacting at Panshanger and the more I was inspired.

One of many great things about the aerodrome and its respective staff was their ability to inspire people of all generations to get into flying and the many aspects of this fabulous industry. The most pertinent example of this for me was the one of the first visits to Panshanger for one of their spectacular Young Aviator Days. A whole summer’s day that attracted ages from 7 to 18 to learn and surround themselves with everything about aviation! It was the moment at the end of the day when we were treated to take controls of a flight of our own. It was at that moment that I remember thinking- ‘I want to do this’. I do not remember a youngster coming away from that day without a smile on their face, and I definitely saw a majority in the clubhouse again and again following that event. Some of them, I am actually still in contact with, over sharing a mutual love of aviation and continued to use the airfield as a place to socialise right up until its devastating closure.

Alongside this, the aerodrome wasn’t just a number one flying school (actually retaining that status on toprankflyingschools two years after it shut), it was the number one social hub for the local area.  I remember seeing on a hot summer’s day that the cafe would be filled with cyclists from 7 in the morning and on dark November nights the brilliant firework display would attract thousands.   The display was also a delight to the hundreds of other local residents watching it in their gardens close by.  Likewise, it bought together people from all walks of life, it was a place where aviators could meet photographers, where classic-car enthusiasts could pass on their knowledge to children, and where artists could meet wartime historians dressing up for another one of Panshanger community days- the infamous Revival Day Fly In. It was Panshanger’s unique location and atmosphere that always had me in awe. On top of being situated on a hugely significant historical sight, it was also bought together situations from a dog walker enjoying the surrounding fields popping in for a coffee to come and relax in the tranquil setting to an experienced cold-war jet pilot to meet someone like me on work experience. Plus, should one focus on the aviation side, it offered first rate training on a grass runway that wasn’t just a farm strip, supporting immaculately kept taxiway, hangarage and maintenance and fuel services, a rare sight across the country now, especially the South East.

Should it be re-opened, not only will the gap in the market be filled for a Hertfordshire aerodrome to resume operating, further support and interaction with the community can occur, more everlasting happy memories can be created and inspiration can be given- as was done for me in my adolescence.

Matt Ives

(Leading Aircraftman Cadet), Trainee Air-Cartographer, Royal Air Force

Ex North London Flying School Student


Picture in 2014 at the age of 15, undertaken 17 hours at this point for my PPL at NLFS; one of the youngest at the aerodrome.  

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