Village Blog : 2015

The following provides a flavour of what's happened in and around Church Fenton in 2015.

September 2015

The Yorkshire Airshow

Church Fenton - The Yorkshire Airshow

Saturday the 26th of September saw the welcome return of air displays to Church Fenton.

The last air display at Church Fenton was held in July 1994 and was called the 'SSAFA International Air Display'.

Today's display called 'The Yorkshire Air Show' was organised by Makin Enterprises, the new owners of the former RAF base, now re-christened as Leeds East Airport.

Church Fenton - The Yorkshire Airshow

Over 12,000 aviation enthusiasts gathered at Church Fenton to watch a selection of majestic Second World War planes soar over the former front line airbase, thrilling to the sound of the mighty Merlin engines.

There were legendary Spitfires and Huricanes, the outstanding American P51 Mustang, as well as a Curtis P40 Warhawk and the classic Douglas DC3 Dakota.

Church Fenton - The Yorkshire Airshow

As well as WW2 war birds there were various historic jets such as the Gloster Meteor, the de Havilland Venom and MiG 15.

Helicopers were also represented, with an impressive display by a Bell Huey helicopter, made famous by its role in Vietnam.

There were also thrills a-plenty with aerobatic displays designed to amaze and wow the crowds from pilots of Wildcat Aerobatics, Global Stars and Team Raven display teams.

Church Fenton - The Yorkshire Airshow

For those who were not that interested in the wonderful collection of planes, both flying and on the ground, there was a fun fair, including a Victorian Carousel and of course a variety of food and drink stalls.

There were also a variey of cockpit displays for visitors to try out along with various flight simulators to enjoy. As well as planes there were a selection of military trucks and jeeps and vintage cars. All in all, something for everyone.

Church Fenton - The Yorkshire Airshow

However, the real star of the show was the mighty Avro Vulcan XH558.

Based at Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport, XH558 is the last remaining flying Vulcan bomber, unfortunately, this crowd pleasing favourite is set to be retired from the air at the end of this summer. In fact its flypast at Church Fenton may well have been the last time to see it perform in an air display.

If this was to be its last performance then what a truely memorable one it gave to the 12,000 strong crowd.

All in all a fitting finale to what proved to be a great show. Here's hoping it was successful enough to become a regular event at Church Fenton. The organisers are already looking into producing next year's show, pencilled in for the 2nd and 3rd of July.

August 2015

Church Fenton goes Medieval

Church Fenton - Medieval Fair

On Saturday the 22nd of August, stalls popped up in Church Fenton at St. Mary's church and the vicarage to host a medieval weekend. Volunteers donned medieval garb to bring the event to life, filling Church Fenton with a breath of medieval history.

Over a dozen stalls were displayed over the two day event, including jewellery making and wicker making. There were also a variety of old artefacts on display, the St Mary's Fabulous Baking Belles, a BBQ, and other arts and craft stalls, along with tours of the church, medieval activities to take part in and a medieval Latin mass.

Nina Wrightson helped organise the event in aid of The Friends of Kirk Fenton Church. She placed the event at the church as she wants to start attracting people to the historic location and to create an even greater sense of community within Church Fenton.

Church Fenton - Medieval Fair

Dr. Ian Wrightson was also on hand as a medieval physician, providing customers with a variety of herbs and concoctions to treat their problems.

One such ointment was hippocras, a medieval substitute to water, which was often polluted at the time. It was hugely popular among the wildlife, attracting wasps to the elixir, and also attracting many visitors who wanted to give the drink a shot.

Other herbs that used to be appointed for medieval medical assistance included basil for stomach problems, mint for indigestion, and liquorice for sore throats, chest and stomach problems, digestion and constipation.

The event was a great success, with a large turnout which took all those that attended back to their historic heritages.

January 2015

Church Fenton Fly-In

Church Fenton - Fly-In

Over 200 private aircraft of all shapes and sizes around the country descended on the former RAF base at Church Fenton to take part in a revival fly-in watched by about 800 people.

Organiser Chris Makin recently bought the site with the intention of opening a flying training school, which he hopes will create 100 jobs in the next five years. He said...

"It was absolutely incredible! At some stage we had ten aircraft queuing up to land. It's been unbelievable and the feedback from the locals has been absolutely mega. Blown away, are the words and the support has been incredible".

The event was due to include an air display by ex-European aerobatic champion Tom Cassell, but due to the number of planes in the sky, this was cancelled for safety reasons.

Church Fenton - Fly-In

Mr Makin said: "We decided not to do the display for safety reasons, because we were so busy with landings. It didn't stop people coming and enjoying themselves, but I think it's something we will definitely look to do for next time, so watch this space. We will have a lot of events like this in future. What's been overwhelming was local people, children and farmers have come over and shaken my hand and said 'fantastic, well done', and asked what we were doing with the site".

The base was closed by the Ministry of Defence under cost cutting measures, and Mr Makin - who lives near Leeds and runs a soft fruit business - said he had bought almost all of the 450-acre site to continue the status as "one of Britain's most important airfields".

Church Fenton was the home of the first RAF Eagle Squadron of American volunteers in 1940, whose role was to protect industrial areas in Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield and Humberside during the Second World War. A comprehensive history of Church Fenton Airbase from 1937 to the present date can be found at Ian Herbert's excellent web site.