AFTER almost 50 years, the annual Biggin Hill Air Fair has come to an end.

Instead, Biggin Hill Airport plans to hold an Open House Air Day starting next September.

The airport says the change will modernise the purpose and performance of the annual air show to reflect the emerging role of Biggin Hill as a business and general aviation aerospace centre.

There are plans for a youth day to link up with the airport’s areospace academy to focus on new jobs available with the companies based at the airport.

Chairman of Biggin Hill Airport Andrew Walters says the new format will enable a more direct relationship with the community and maintain the heritage of RAF Biggin Hill.

Mr Walters said: “Jock Maitland, his son Jim and Colin Hitchins in more recent years, have promoted and presided over a magnificent air show for almost half a century.

“But now is time for change, putting the community first and giving us the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to them.

“An Open House Air Day will enhance the fellowship of companies working at the airport and provide an opportunity for them to project to the public.

“It is also planned to attract young people to the airport as a source of recruitment for worthwhile careers in the exciting and rewarding business of aviation.”

News Shopper: Final flight: Biggin Hill Air Fair will be replaced with an open house air day

The outline programme for the new air day envisages incorporating 21st century aviation with displays by Second World War aircraft to keep alive the heritage of the RAF at Biggin Hill.

Airport management are also planning to open a Second World War Heritage Centre.

An original Second World War pilot’s crew room at the site will also be refurbished for September 2012.

News Shopper: BIGGIN HILL: The end of Biggin Hill Air Fair


1963 - Former RAF squadron leader Jock Maitland opens Biggin Hill as a civil airport. Jock organises the four-day Air Travel Fair, to put Biggin Hill on the map as an up-and-coming airport.

1964 - The Red Arrows fly for the first time.

1978 - The airshow records its highest ever attendance to that date as 90,000 flock to see the air displays.

1980 - An A26 Invader bomber crashes onto open ground, killing all seven of its crew. The accident forces the Civil Aviation Authority to change the rules governing the event, with only essential crew allowed onto aircraft in future shows.

2001 - Spectators watch in horror as a Second World War King Cobra explodes in a massive fireball, killing the pilot. Two flyers are also killed on the same day after a De Havilland Vampire crashes into a field.

2003 - News Shopper-led consortium saves airshow as it struggles to meet spiralling running costs. News Shopper starts sponsoring event.

2008 - Traffic chaos prevents many people from getting to the airshow with families left stuck outside in their cars. One bus takes four-and-a-half hours to travel the five-and-a-half mile route from Bromley South.

June 2010 - The 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain is commemorated at the 48th and final air fair with two days of spectacular flight displays attended by more than 100,000 people.

July 2010 - Biggin Hill Airport takes over the management of the fair. At the time the airport vowed the airshow would go on but would consult businesses and tenants at the airfield.

October 2010 - The airport announces the airshow will be replaced by an open house air day.

What are your views on the airport's decision to replace the air fair with an open day? Leave your comments below.