A flurry of aeroplane movements signifies the beginning of a new chapter for the WWI Aviation Heritage Trust Ltd (WWI AHT) at Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome.
The Vintage Aviator Ltd (TVAL) in New Zealand loaned rare B.E.2e and Sopwith Snipe biplanes to the WWI AHT at Stow Maries aerodrome, Essex to be operated in the United Kingdom and Europe during the Great War centenary. The two aeroplanes appeared at numerous events in East Anglia, including major air displays at Duxford and Old Warden. Both are now returning to New Zealand and the WWI AHT has entered into discussions with TVAL regarding the possibility of future loan agreements.
Disappointment at the departure of the B.E.2e and Snipe can be tempered, however, by more positive news from the WWI AHT. Trustee Oliver Wulff’s No. 7 Squadron-schemed B.E.2e has now returned to Stow Maries after an extended stay at Old Warden, Beds. His reproduction Albatros DVa and SE5a (currently under restoration with TVAL in New Zealand), alongside a reproduction Fokker D.VII currently based in Europe, should also be relocating to the aerodrome in 2018. Collectively, this quartet of Allied and Axis types will be operated from Stow Maries under the WWI AHT banner to commemorate the centenary of the cessation of the Great War.
Stow Maries aerodrome has also received a grant of £4.3 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, which will facilitate the restoration of five original Great War-era buildings and the creation of a visitor’s centre (including a café and shop). The restoration work will see the renovation of the officers’ accommodation block and two additional accommodation buildings, the latter of which will be made available for private functions and school visits. The first instalment of £300,000 has been granted and, provided the restoration works continue as planned, the remainder of the money will follow in due course.
Lord Ashton of Hyde, First World War Minister, commented: “I am delighted that Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome has received a £4.3m grant thanks to National Lottery players. This grant will go towards preserving a rare example of a First World War aerodrome that was pivotal in protecting Britain. As we approach the final year of our centenary commemorations, it is fitting that we are making efforts to protect our First World War heritage for future generations.”
Read more at the WWI AHT website, Stow Maries’ website and The Vintage Aviation Echo’s article on the WWI AHT’s inception.