Dutch B-25J Mitchell is the highlight of the Air Britain Fly-in

Written on . Posted in Epping, North Weald Airfield, Ongar, Our attractions, Out and about

The World War 2 bomber visited North Weald and made a great impression.

The annual Air Britain Fly-in was held over the weekend of 22-23 June. Windy and showery weather unfortunately limited the number of visiting aircraft, so it was a welcome surprise that the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight’s B-25 Mitchell bomber, PH-XXV, from Gilze-Rijen AFB in Holland paid us a visit on Sunday before it returned home.

The aircraft had also come in on the Friday to perform a display practice so that the pilot’s Display Authorisation could be signed off, enabling the aircraft to attend the air show at Manston on Saturday. We were thus able to inform people of its return via our Facebook page.

This meant that many visitors arrived specially to see the aircraft, boosting attendance numbers for the event. After some low passes, the Mitchell landed and taxied to its parking space where the aviation enthusiasts were able to take a close-up look.

Once they had finished their lunch, the eight-man crew prepared the aircraft for its flight back to base. On departure it did a low level turn before coming back for a low pass down Runway 12 before departing on track. It gave everyone some amazing photo opportunities.

The aircraft was built by North American at its factory in Kansas City, Missouri in 1944 as a B-25J-20-NC. It then joined the US Army Air Force until it was put into storage at Davis Monthan AFB in 1958.

The Mitchell was subsequently sold, joining the civil register as N320SQ, and was converted for cargo operations. During 1989 the aircraft was bought by the Duke of Brabant’s Air Force in Holland and restored to its original configuration.

In 2004 this organisation merged with others to form the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight, which now operates the aircraft. It has not flown for several years, but is now back on the European display circuit, and we were pleased to have welcomed the B-25 to North Weald.

The Mitchell’s current scheme represents an aircraft flown by the Netherlands East Indies Air Force from Australia during World War 2. Dutch crews in the RAF also flew Mitchells from Lasham and Dunsfold as part of 320 Squadron in 2 Group, Bomber Command.

Other warbird visitors over the weekend included the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Sea Fury T20 and an L-29 Delfin Soviet jet trainer of the Red Star Rebels team, which had taken part in the air show at Manston as well.

Epping Archers still on target after 40 years!

Written on . Posted in Community, Epping, North Weald Airfield, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Young people, Your community

They celebrated their ruby anniversary with a Family Fun Day at North Weald Airfield.

The all-day event was held on Sunday 23 June using their dedicated archery area. In the morning there were competitions for juniors and seniors, each using 36 arrows at 30 metres range, with 32 archers taking part. The wind was strong and blustery, so the conditions were a real challenge.

Throughout the day anyone could have a go at archery skittles, which were grouped on tables and had to be knocked down at 10 yards range using six arrows. During the afternoon, there were games of archery darts at 15 yards range using 18 arrows, with participants trying to get the highest score around the board.

The winners of each competition received a trophy, and the youngsters had a bouncy castle to play on. The event also raised money for the Herts Air Ambulance through the sponsored morning competitions and entry fees for the fun shoots. Club Secretary Gordon Tigar was delighted that several of the original founding members were able to attend and take part in the activities 40 years on!

The club has its origins in the Epping Sports Centre. This opened in 1970, and archery was one of the sports. A separate club began in 1973, which was run on an informal basis; rules were simpler then and much of the current legislation did not exist. In February 1975, the club was formalised with the election of a committee.

The Epping Archers have been shooting on the Airfield since 1990. The club currently has 14 young people on its waiting list. They can take archery as part of their PE GCSE or the Duke of Edinburgh award.

In October 2007, the club was the fourth to achieve archery-specific Club Mark status. This is an initiative by Sport England to provide a cross-sport quality accreditation scheme for clubs with junior sections.

The archers are just one of many clubs who use the Airfield for leisure activities on a regular basis.

North Weald fire crews tackle complex training scenarios

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The Airfield’s new fire training ground is used for the first time
We provide daily Cat 1 fire cover at the Airfield, but have not been able to use a specific training area until now.

Back in May we created a special fire exercise ground on the old motocross area at the western side of the Airfield. This has a retaining bund and a multiple layered surface with a membrane to retain water and foam, allowing it to evaporate naturally.

We have also created a special rig to simulate an aircraft fuselage and its engines, allowing us to undertake complex training scenarios. Fires in the cabin area are particularly hard to put out as the oil tends to re-ignite because of the intense heat inside. Additional fire trays add to the challenge. These are filled with water and oil is added to provide the fuel for the fires.

We used the area for the first time on 21 June as part of our normal cycle of continuation training and to validate our latest Operations Officers. 

Although we use water for most of the training as this takes longer to put out the fires and so gives the crews more experience, we also practise with other media such as CO2 and powder extinguishers. One of the exercises involved using dual media – powder inserted through a water spray to put out an engine fire.

For the final scenario we lit a fires on all parts of the rig and the other training trays as well. In this case, the foam tank in Fire 1 was used to train a new crew in using the equipment. They extinguished all the fires and still had foam to spare. It was a very impressive demonstration of our capabilities.

The two-day training exercise also involved hose deployment and attending incidents at remote parts of the Airfield to test our response times. This is all part of our regular and ongoing fire training, which involves full debriefs by our Junior Officers, who organise the training scenarios.

Lulu Belle – North Weald’s Burma Banshee

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The Hangar 11 Collection’s P-40 Kittyhawk has a brand new colour scheme. 

Volunteers spent hundreds of hours stripping four layers of paint from the airframe and making the surface completely smooth. RAS Completions at Biggin Hill, who applied the base colours, reported that the job of spraying an immaculate flat coat was made much easier by this very thorough preparation.

The aircraft was rolled out on Sunday 2 June and unveiled to visiting aviation enthusiasts. In two sorties it performed a display practice over the Airfield and later undertook an air-to-air photographic flight in company with a Yak 52.

On Sunday 16 June, the aircraft will perform its first display in the new scheme at Old Warden for the Shuttleworth Collection. Peter Teichman is delighted with the new look.

The Kittyhawk now represents 2104590 Lulu Belle, which was flown by 2nd Lieutenant Philip Adair from the 80th Fighter Group – the Burma Banshees – part of the 89th Fighter Squadron based at Nagaghuli in India during 1944. Although the squadron was mainly used for ground attack duties in support of the long-range US Army unit ‘Merrill’s Marauders’, Adair single-handedly broke up a formation of 24 Japanese bombers, hitting several with his machine guns, and shot down one of the 40 escorting fighters, despite his own aircraft being badly damaged as well. He was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery.

The aircraft’s upper surfaces are finished in Olive Drab overpainted with Medium Green patches, the undersides are in Natural Grey. It has a large skull painted on each side of the nose – the characteristic motif of the 80th Fighter Group. The colour scheme was researched by Hanger 11’s Steve Atkin, who comments: “we chose Lulu Belle because it has a good story regarding its combat history, is an eye-catching scheme, it hasn’t been done in recent years and, finally, there was a fantastic range of photographic coverage, which assisted in interpreting the scheme to make it as accurate as possible.”

The Hangar 11 Team also created the line artworks for the markings and graphics, which were run out at full size by D&P Streamline, a local company based in a former airfield building on the Woodside Trading Estate. These were then used by the Team to make masks for applying the paintwork and detailing accurately.


Proposed changes to the planning rules – new permitted development rights

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Epping, Local business, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home

As from 30 May 2013, new changes have come into force in respect of further permitted development rights for certain building works and changes of use without the need to apply for planning permission. Despite most Council’s, including ourselves, having raised objections to these planned changes, this has nationally been brought in to encourage development to take place and speed up its delivery by removing local authority control in an attempt to revive the economy. There are a number of changes, which are as follows:

Single storey rear extension to houses:

At present, it is possible to build a 4 metre deep single storey rear extension onto the original rear wall of a detached house and a 3 metre deep single storey rear extension onto an attached house as permitted development, i.e. without the need for planning permission. This right remains, but a new procedure (called “prior approval”) is to be introduced which may allow extensions up to double this size without planning permission (up to 8 metres deep for a detached house and 6 metres deep for an attached house). This does not apply in conservation areas, though.

The process for all other extension works under Part 1 of the GPDO will remain the same (i.e. no more than half the garden area around the house etc), but anyone proposing a 3m-6m or 4m-8m extension must write and provide a plan and written description of the proposal. There is no planning application fee.

The Council is required to consult the immediately adjoining premises only, with a minimum consultation period of 21 days. If no objections are received from the consulted adjoining neighbours, the development can go ahead. If an adjoining neighbour objects, then the prior approval of the local planning authority is required. Planning Officers will then need to consider the impact of the development only on the amenity of the immediate neighbours. Other factors, such as green belt, design and appearance cannot be considered under this prior approval procedure. Only where there is clearly excessive harm to neighbouring amenity will Officers be in a position to refuse prior approval.

This whole process has to be done within a total of 42 days from first receipt of the information submitted, otherwise, no matter whether there is an objection from an immediate neighbour or from the Council, the development can proceed. There is a right of appeal against a refusal.

The legislation requires that any 3m-6m or 4m-8m extension “shall be completed on or before 30th May 2016″.  It is therefore a temporary additional permitted development right for 3 years only.

The legislation also requires that “the developer shall notify the local planning authority of the completion of the development as soon as reasonably practicable after completion”.

Download the application form – Prior Notification of a Proposed Larger Home Extension

Download the guidance notes – Prior Notification of a Proposed Larger Home Extension

Change of Use

(please note that none of the below changes of use are relevant to listed buildings, but they can be carried out in conservation areas).

•  Premises in Class B1(a) office use will be able to change to Class C3 residential use so long as the C3 use starts on or before 30 May 2016. This is only subject to a prior approval process whereby the developer shall apply to the Council for a determination as to whether prior approval is required only in respect of flooding, highway and transport issues and contamination. There are no other considerations. The determination will have to be made by the Council within 56 days and in this case, a fee, believed at this stage to be £80.00, is required. There was an opportunity to be exempt from this permitted change of use and we as a Council made a strong case in order to protect our local town centre and employment areas. However, we, along with many others, were unsuccessful and only 17 authorities across England (including 11 inner London boroughs) have been given change of use exemption. Again, this is a temporary additional permitted development right in that no change of use can take place after 30 May 2016, but if the use has started before then, it can continue.

•  Parts of buildings under 150 metres within Class A1 – A5, B1, D1 and D2 will be permitted to change to a flexible use falling within Class A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants) or B1 (business). For a one off period of up to 2 years, the developer only needs to notify (and therefore there is no prior approval considerations) the Council beforehand and in this time period, it can move between other uses in this flexible use. After 2 years, the use reverts back. This applies even in the Local Plan key retail frontages. 

•  Agricultural buildings (cumulatively)|under 500 square metres in floor space used solely in agriculture before 3 July 2012 or for 10 years after that date, can change to a flexible use falling within Class A1-A3, B1 (business), B8 (storage and distribution), C1 (hotel) or D2 (assembly and leisure). This flexible use will then be classed as “sui generis” such that any further changes of use outside the flexible uses require planning permission. In the case where the floor space does not exceed 150 metres, the developer merely has to notify the Council of the change. If it exceeds 150 metres, the developer has to apply to the Council for a determination as to whether prior approval is required and we can only take account of flooding, highway and transport issues, noise and contamination can be considered through consultation with statutory undertakers. Therefore there are no other considerations. The determination has to be made by the Council within 56 days.  

•  Buildings within Class B1, C1, C2, C2a, D1 and D2 will be able to change to a state funded school. The developer shall apply to the Council for a determination as to whether prior approval but we can only consider against  highway and transport issues, noise and contamination. There are no other considerations. The determination will have to be made by the Council within 56 days.

•   The use of any building as a state-funded school for a single academic year will be permitted. It then reverts back to its previous use at the end of the academic year. The site must however, be approved for such purpose by the relevant Minister.

Temporary Increased Thresholds for Offices

 Increases Permitted Development threshold to erect, extend or alter office premises from 25% of gross floor space or 100 square metres (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200 square metres. The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30th May 2016. The developer must notify us in writing when the development is complete

Temporary Increased Thresholds for Shops, Catering, Professional or Financial Services 

Increases PD threshold to erect, extend or alter a shop, catering, professional or financial services establishment from 25% of gross floor space or 100 square metres (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200 square metres. The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30th May 2016.
 The exclusion of development within 2 metres of the boundary of the curtilage is removed during the same period except in relation to premises which adjoin land or buildings in residential use. The developer must notify us in writing when the development is complete.

Temporary Increased Thresholds for Industrial and Warehouse Use Classes 

 Increases PD threshold to erect, extend or alter industrial and warehouse premises from 25% of gross floor space or 100 square metres (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200 square metres. The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30th May 2016. Developers must notify us of completion.

Telecoms Installations

The construction, installation or replacement of telegraph poles, cabinets or lines for fixed-line broadband services will not require prior approval in Conservation Areas for a 5 year period. Development must be completed before 30th May 2018.

Extensions permitted to temporary schools

Buildings which qualify for the right to change temporarily to school use are also given the benefit of existing permitted development rights which allow schools to carry out building works (including the erection, extension or alteration of buildings and the provision of hard surfaces) subject to various conditions and limitations.
 This will apply from the date we are notified by the relevant Minister that the site has been approved for school use.


Find out more about the planning process and planning applications


Eagles take flight over North Weald

Written on . Posted in Epping, North Weald Airfield, Ongar, Our attractions, Out and about, Uncategorized

On Bank Holiday Monday the Stars and Stripes were flying over the main gate at North Weald Airfield in anticipation of a special American Eagle Squadron flypast at lunch time.
Two Eagle Squadrons of American RAF volunteers – 71 and 121 – were based at North Weald during 1941, so it was fitting that a special formation of four aircraft representing these squadrons included the Airfield in a commemorative flypast over their former bases around the east of England on Monday 27 May.
The formation, which started out at Duxford and had the callsign ‘Eagle Squadron’, was led by a Hawker Hurricane in 601 (County of London) Squadron markings, representing the aircraft flown by the American volunteer Billy Fiske during the Battle of Britain. The second aircraft was a Spitfire I painted in Bill Dunn’s colours. He was the first US pilot to become an ace while he was based at North Weald with 71 (Eagle) Squadron in August 1941.
They were accompanied by a P-47G Thunderbolt ‘Snafu’ and P-51C Mustang ‘Princess Elizabeth,’ representing the later units of the US Eighth Air Force, which flew from airfields in Essex and East Anglia escorting the B-17 and B-24 bombers as their ‘Little Friends’.
It was a windy day and for a while we thought the flypast might be cancelled, but it worked out right in the end, and was an awe-inspiring sight!  Many people came to the Airfield to see the flypast and we had a busy Market too, so there was quite an audience to witness this unique event.


Fox 1’s first air display of the year

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Our Hawker Hunter T7 goes to Duxford

North Weald Airfield’s resident Hawker Hunter T7 trainer WV372, based at Weald Aviation, performed its first flying display of 2013 at Duxford on Sunday 26 May after an initial practice flight earlier in the day.

Chris Heames flew the display, and the Hunter’s callsign was Fox 1. The parachute was streamed on landing for both sorties and recovered by the duty fire crew.

The aircraft arrived from St Athan in South Wales during July 2012. It currently carries the markings of 2 Squadron. The owner is Graham Peacock, a local businessman from Epping. He and his wife first flew in WV372 during two sorties with Chris on 2 February. WV372’s next sortie is to Waddington next Saturday. It is on the UK register as G-BXFI.

The aircraft was built at Kingston-upon-Thames as an F4, and first flew on 15 July 1955. It joined 222 Squadron at Leuchars in January 1956. During 1957 WV372 was rebuilt as a T7 trainer by Hawkers, and served with RAF Germany on the Station Flights at Jever and Gutersloh. It later joined 2 Squadron at Gutersloh, returning to the UK in 1971 as part of 4 FTS at Valley.

After returning to Germany for a couple of years, it joined 208 Squadron at RAF Honington in 1981, operating alongside the unit’s Buccaneers. The aircraft’s final RAF service was with 237 OCU in 1983 at Lossiemouth.

In November 1984, the Hunter was transferred to the Royal Navy as one of its FRADU (Flight Requirements Air Direction Unit) aircraft. It was finally withdrawn from service in 1996.


Lancaster makes a Dambusters flypast over North Weald

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The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster flies over North Weald

Over the past week there have been a series of events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid by 617 Squadron on the night of 16-17 May 1943, which breached the Moehne and Eder dams in central Germany. Nineteen Lancaster bombers flew on the raid, and eight were lost. Of the 133 aircrew who took part, 53 were killed that night, and only three are still alive today.


The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster bomber is currently painted in a 617 Squadron scheme representing ‘Thumper Mark III, DV385, to mark the anniversary. The aircraft performed a flypast on Thursday 16 May over the Ladybower Dam on the Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire, which was used for training the crews before the raid. It was accompanied by two current 617 Squadron Tornado jet bombers.

BBC presenter Chris Evans is vsibile in the bomb aimer's position under the front gun turret

The following day it was North Weald’s turn to receive a flypast by this iconic aircraft, which was en route from Scampton to Biggin Hill. The Lancaster flew over the Airfield at low level. BBC presenter Chris Evans was on board in the bomb aimers position, taking part in a series of programmes on Radio 2 about the famous raid.

Abberton Reservoir near Colchester was also used by 617 Squadron in preparing for the sortie because its shape resembled one of the target lakes. The BBMF often transit through North Weald. The unit was at the Airfield for a short while before it closed as an RAF base.

Waltham Abbey Minis help to save lives

Written on . Posted in Epping, North Weald Airfield, Ongar, Our attractions, Out and about, Travel, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey

The Abbey Mini Owners club from Waltham Abbey held a rally to raise money for the Essex & Herts Air Ambulances on Sunday 12 May. The owners first of all gathered at North Weald Airfield, home of the Herts Air Ambulance.

There were 24 Minis and Wolseley Hornets parked at The Squadron, where they posed for photographs with their owners. David Kerr-Sheppard, the Air Ambulance’s Chief Pilot, also owns a Mini, which joined our visitors.

They then departed later in the morning to visit Earls Colne, the Essex Air Ambulance’s base. The event raised around £250 for the two Air Ambulances, which rely on public donations to fund their life-saving operations.

RAF veterans reunited at their former base

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Air and groundcrew veterans from the 72 Squadron Association once again visited North Weald Airfield for their annual reunion on Saturday 11 May. The previous day a Tucano trainer from the current Squadron had flown in from RAF Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire. This was painted in a special desert colour scheme commemorating the unit’s wartime service in the Mediterranean. One of the Squadron’s Spitfire pilots from that time attended the reunion.
The veterans began their day with a trip on the Epping Ongar Railway, followed by a visit to the Airfield Museum on Hurricane Way. Their next stop was at the Control Tower. They started on the ground floor with an introduction by Arthur Moreton in the newly-named Hunter Room, which has our Cold War era jet squadrons as its theme.
Moving upstairs, they were able to look over the Airfield and see the Squadron’s former dispersal area from the Hurricane Room. They completed their tour with a visit to the Visual Control Room at the top of the Tower.
Then it was back on the coach to The Squadron for lunch and their annual meeting. Old friends were able to meet up again and enjoy a chat during the party which followed. We always are pleased to welcome back the Association, which still has a great affection for North Weald.
The Tucano flew back to its base on Monday morning. Enhanced fire cover for its arrival and departure was provided by the Airfield’s duty fire crew and the North Weald Fire Rescue Volunteers.