As a tuggie I have a vested interest in not hitting a walker with my tow-rope. We do more & more go-arounds due this issue. As a tractor driver there is the occasional dog that runs around the tractor when I’m cutting the grass with the topper. I remember when Eddie Hahnefelt’s dog went under it. The idea isn’t much fun.

This issue of walkers over the airfield away from footpaths won’t go away. We’ve dealt with it for a long time but have done nothing other than complain!

Kev Dart & I do try to engage with passers-by who mostly receive the idea of planting a hedge as something that would increase safety & help the environment & wildlife. Of the walkers that I’ve spoken to, there seems to be an understanding that we need to do something about our issues, but then, these are the reasonable people! Some walkers who complain, won’t acknowledge any of our problems, & consider it their right to walk over the field. One of them berated me about how little we do for the local community & how incredibly arrogant we are! It is a perception that we need to change. Its a challenge. One of the reasonable gents walking past said how much easier life would have been if there had been a hedge planted years ago. people have forgotten that the footpath once went straight across our field; we got it moved. We have planted the hedge trees along the Northern footpath far wider than is required so that there is now plenty of space to have picnics.

I came across a company called TCV that provided FREE trees to various qualifying organisations. I applied for the maximum number of 950 which we received & planted on a cold January day. We had a chance of more trees from those not taken up by others at the end of the season. It turned out that we’d get an extra 400 in early March. The Woodland trust also came up trumps with 440 - to be delivered March/April. Over 1700 trees to plant. I figured that we would find the volunteers. When the time came to it we certainly did - Thank you all. All these will only just hedge the Northern footpath, it could be much more densely planted. The wider the hedge the better for wildlife. We may be lucky enough to get more trees next year.

We’ve done something about offsetting our carbon footprint. We do use a few litres of fuel with every tug launch. If you have a ten year old oak it captures about 10 pounds of carbon each year. Depending on age, climate, type of trees & soil, an acre of trees captures about a ton of CO2 each year. There is a balance between capture (growth) and release (decay). Young, growing trees, capture more CO2. Because trees lose leaves and branches, part of the captured carbon is released during growth, but the majority remains sequestered in the trees. The planting that we’ve done is only a tiny help, but it will do something to offset our fuel usage.

We received dog rose, hawthorn, blackthorn (sloe), goat willow, dog wood along with the canes & sleeves to help protect from the deer & rabbits. The height that they could grow to shouldn’t be enough to cause any interference to our flying ops even if they were not layered which is the aim in about eight year’s time. Nothing can protect from the vandals - let’s just hope.

Hedges are hardly core gliding business but for the airfield maybe they are!

By Kevin Fresson