Monday, December 15, 2008

The new airfield

This post may be of interest to anyone who wants to build their own airfield in France.
We found a farmers field which was being used as an airfield by Bernard who was flying an old Air Creation flexwing. There was a hangar that was big enough to fit Bernard's machine on a trolley and my machine with the wing removed. At that stage the airfield was not official.
Bernard moved away to a different part of France and the owner of the land offered to let me buy the hangar and rent the land as long as I made it an official airstrip. I engaged the help of a couple of my French flying friends and set about compiling a dossier for the Prefecture (local council). The dossier consisted of a couple of air photos, maps showing the airstrip, letter from the owner giving permission and a few other odds and ends. We took the five copies of the dossier to the Prefecture and waited.
Within a week we got a phone call from the aviation police asking if they could come and visit the strip. The visit was very informal, they checked the aircraft paperwork and insurance, and then my licence. They went away happy.
The next week we were visited by the DGAC (similar to the CAA), who measured everything with some high tech equipment. They had a couple of observations, one being that the windsock was to be repositioned away from the runway, and that we could only land and take off to the north due to the trees at the south end.
There was also a visit by the local police to check the security and danger to the public, but they did this on their own.
Today, 6 weeks after submitting the dossier, we received the letter giving authorisation to use the land as an airfield.
The total cost of this proceedure was a big zero. All the work and visits were completely free.
The next step is to submit the airfield to the www.nav2000.com website so that it is there for others to visit if they wish.
If microlight pilots from the UK wish to visit then here is some further information:
The strip is about 20 km south of Perigueux in the Dordogne. It is officially 150 meters long, but has about 80 meters usable either end. There is a slight upslope towards the south. I have no objection to anyone parking overnight and there is no landing fee. If people care to contact me then I can arrange to have lead free fuel available at normal garage cost prices. There are local B&Bs around or pilots could camp next to their aircraft for free, but there are no toilet or food facilities at the moment.
The wind sock will be removed and re-positioned to the west of the runway.

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