National Centre Update – April/May 2021

It’s all action

This Blog is something of an interim edition as I hadn’t intended to produce another one until June, however, given the pace of current projects and the arrival at my PC of some rather good images I felt it was worth a further update.

Control Line Hard Circle

The major project of the moment (in terms of size and scope) is of course the control line hard circle.

Whilst this got off to a positive start last autumn we had to put it on hold over the winter due to the lockdown restrictions and also the wet winter weather which prevents heavy machinery on the site and the movement of any soil.

It was envisaged that it would be at least late May before we were able to recommence work on the circle but a very dry spring and the availability of machinery and men has meant that we have been able to get stuck in and make considerable progress.

The final dig to level was completed a couple of weeks ago and since then we have managed to complete most of the drainage works other than the final connection.

In order to move the project forward a work day was recently organised and very positively the control line flyers turned up in good numbers and put in a very productive days work; this allowed us to get the shuttering in place for the inner edge of the tarmac plus a multitude of other tasks that bring the circle a step nearer to completion, great work.

The centre is now topsoiled and is just awaiting a final levelling and seeding, we are also due to have the digger back in to lay and level the last of the stone and the control line team are due back on site soon to complete the shuttering for the outer edge so all in all very positive progress and much earlier in the year than envisaged; it looks like we should be ready for the contractors to lay tarmac by the end of May.

Take a look at the images which show not only how good the site is looking but also the scope and progress on the circle project.

The spoil from the hard circle dig has now been levelled which will make the northwest corner of the site far better in terms of vehicle access.

Other projects

The other current project is the commissioning of the shower block, again, slightly behind schedule due to having to stand the volunteer team down during lockdown but coming on well now we are back on it.

All the services are in the ground and the new connection in the office is enabled, the final task for the electrician is the connection and commissioning of the unit.

The Volunteer Team have been busy building the access ramp so hopefully it will be ready for use within the next few weeks.

Other smaller projects have also moved forward with the citing of concrete sockets for the pylon course markers with the same due for the aerobatic box markers in the coming weeks.

The next project on the list is the hard centres for the grass control line circles. These will hopefully be done over the next few weeks but again rely on the weather staying dry to get the necessary machinery and materials to the required location.

Its safe to say there is plenty to keep the team busy between project work and general maintenance and it is fantastic to have the Volunteer Team back on site.

Returning to open

The Centre returned to open for Season Ticket Holders and pre-booked events on the 30th of March, the next step of the return to being fully open is on the 12th of April when we re-open for camping and day ticket access.

Initially there will still be some limitations on access to indoor spaces plus of course the requirements for track and trace and appropriate social distancing measures.

In terms of events, we very soon return to the published calendar which is great news, of course there will still be some restrictions and additional measures and of course the route to being fully open is subject to any updates or additional measures from the Government.

We are currently taking camping bookings and already a number of people have booked a few days break at the Centre, whilst there are very few “blocks” of days for flying most of our visitors are happy to mix and match between flying, spectating and sightseeing.

Upcoming events

Unfortunately the Spring Swapmeet and SAM35 Gala has been cancelled so the first event of “open” is the two day midweek jet event on the 13th and 14th of this month followed by the first pylon racing competition on the weekend of the 17th/18th of April and then at the end of the month the first GPS soaring event at the National Centre on the 24th/25th, all of these events are open for spectators and camping in compliance with the Covid Secure status.

As always check the calendar before travelling and if you are unsure call on the National Centre number to check the site status (0116 2441091)

Aerial images kindly supplied by Russ Bowey

Ground based images MW