At a ceremony on Nov. 15, 2018, the Vertical Flight Society officially recognized Weston Airport, Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, UK, as a VFS Vertical Flight Heritage Site. The land is now owned by The Helicopter Museum, the world’s largest dedicated helicopter museum, and the plaque was installed on the Museum’s restored World War II era control tower/pilots’ block. The historic buildings now house the Weston Aviation Exhibition telling the story of the area’s aviation history including Weston Airport, Royal Air Force (RAF) Locking and local aircraft factories.
The Vertical Flight Society — founded in 1943 as the American Helicopter Society — is the world’s oldest and largest society dedicated to advancing vertical flight technology. The Society’s Vertical Flight Heritage Sites Program recognizes and helps preserve the important vertical flight historical sites around the world.
The Weston-super-Mare Airport has been involved with helicopters since Bristol Aeroplane Company Chief Helicopter designer Raoul Hafner temporarily located his office at the Banwell factory in 1945. From 1955, the main Oldmixon Factory manufactured the Sycamore helicopter and completed development of the Type 192 Belvedere, which first flew at the airfield on 5 July 1958. Subsequently the Oldmixon factory was taken over by Westland in 1960 and became involved in Wasp, Gazelle, Puma, Lynx and Sea King production and overhaul work for more than four decades.
“We were delighted to host the naming of Weston Airport as a Vertical Flight Heritage Site,” said Elfan ap Rees, Founder and Chair of The Helicopter Museum, “the more so as The Helicopter Museum is the last piece of that history still surviving and includes helicopters built and overhauled at the airfield in its collection. The recognition by the VFS is also a great honor and we are grateful to Mike Hirschberg for taking the time to visit personally to unveil the plaque.”
This is the 10th location to be recognized as a Vertical Flight Heritage Site since the program was initiated in 2013.
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