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Skyward Flight Training school offers farmers ‘pilot’ deal in return for field near Bury St Edmunds

A Suffolk flying school is offering a landowner who can find a perfect base for the business a chance to take to the skies for free as it continues to search for a new home.

Chris Shepherd-Rose, owner of Skyward Flight Training, is set to offer a farmer, landowner or one of their relatives the opportunity to reach a solo standard level of flying – which is about 12 to 16 hours worth of lessons – if they have a suitable site.

This comes after months of unsuccessfully searching for a piece of land after its lease finished at Rougham Airfield in May.

Chris Shepherd-Rose from Skyward Flight Training. Picture: Mecha Morton
Chris Shepherd-Rose from Skyward Flight Training. Picture: Mecha Morton

Chris said: “We had a couple of farmers offer us fields that haven’t been quite right because there are stringent safety rules we have to take into consideration, such as the length of the site, it having no animals on it and with nothing such as houses too near.

“It has been extremely difficult to find the ideal place and I must have seen about a mixture of 25 sites – those that have an existing airstrip on them and farmland which we could then apply for planning permission on – but we have had no luck finding an ideal site so far.”

The school has had to suspend training in the air for its students and has only been able to hire out its aircraft to fully trained pilots from a site near Wattisham.

But the school’s owner has said he sees land around the Bury St Edmunds and Rougham area which he feels may be perfect for them but the issue is trying to find out the owners and getting in contact with them.

Chris said: “I have even been on Google Earth and seen lots of strips of land around here that could be ideal so I am hoping this piece will maybe prompt them, if they or a relative has been interested in learning to fly, to contact us.”

The dimensions of the land needed would be between 600 to 800m in length and can be anything from a minimum of around 40m wide.

Chris said: “We need to find a place, if we need planning permission for it, by the end of February so we will be ready by May to take advantage of the summer months of flying.

“I know in my heart we are running out of time to keep Skyward flying and for me having built the school up, I don’t want 13 years of hard work to go to waste, so I hope someone can help before it is too late.”

If you do have a possible site, simply email c.shepherd.rose@gmail.com