Final take-off at Merlin Flying Club

The last plane has flown from Hucknall Airfield, which has now closed because of plans for 900 new homes and an industrial park on the site.

The 53-year-old Merlin Flying Club held a two-day event last weekend to mark the end of an era as they will no longer meet at the airfield.

The club is heading for pastures new as they will be relocating to Tatenhill Airfield near Burton-on-Trent. To celebrate their long history and mark the closure of the historic airfield, which is owned by Rolls-Royce, the club held a final fly-in last Saturday and Sunday.

Club secretary and chief flying instructor Katherine Lomas (35), who learned to fly at the airfield, said: “It is a very emotional occasion for all our members.”

Katherine, who lives in Derby, said the popular club was still thriving with about 100 members and about 60 on the waiting list.

Another woman member, Anisa Hafeji (27), who also lives in Derby, was the last person to take a private pilot’s licence test at the airfield last Saturday. She was delighted to pass and received her ‘wings’ at a party that night, which included a firework display.

Merlin member John Bakewell, of Vaughan Estate, Hucknall, who still flies in his 80th year, has particularly vivid memories of the airfield. He used to work for Rolls-Royce and his first flight was in 1984. He has also built six aircraft, the last one a Wittman Tailwind in co-operation with the late Tony Shelley.

The airfield has been maintained and operated by club members on a voluntary basis with tasks including aircraft cleaning, clubhouse duties, grass cutting and serving as a fire and rescue crew. Merlin will be much missed because their annual summer flying pageant became a highlight of the town’s social calendar.

The club was hit by tragedy in 2014 with the deaths of two members whose plane crashed on a field near the M1.