An Air history of Mansfield

Photo:A Mignet Flying Flea

A Mignet Flying Flea

Extremely dangerous

An Airport, a Heliport and the 'Flying Flea'

By Tony Clement

Mansfield surprisingly considered joining the budding air travel industry in the 1930s. On the 9th October 1936 Mansfield, Sutton, Mansfield Woodhouse and Warsop Councils convened a meeting discussing the provision of an aerodrome for the Mansfield district.

This was a period in the 1920s and 1930s when thoughts were that every provincial town would have its own aerodrome, with flights to a bigger centre such as Birmingham or Manchester.

Mansfield would be a so-called satellite aerodrome with flights commuting to the  larger city sites.

The chairman of the council was quoted in the Mansfield Advertiser of the time saying a site of at least 300 acres would be required, this obviously had to be flat,  and, said the chairman, ‘it had to provide at least four taking-off places.’

At a later meeting sites were put up for consideration.  According to the Advertiser, these were land near Park Farm, Mansfield Woodhouse; Penniment Lane, Mansfield; and Moorhaigh Wood Farm, Sutton.

The Corporation also went as far as doing figures for the cost of hangars, club house, and ground preparation at £19,000.

Unfortunately these plans came to nothing with the Second World War intervening three years later, but many wartime airfields were built in Nottinghamshire for wartime use.

It would be interesting to find out if these Mansfield sites still exist, have they been built on, or are they farmland, and would they have been practical as an aerodrome.


The 'Flying Flea'

Also another aviation first was the first aircraft built in Mansfield by a local man was a so-called ‘flying flea’, this was in 1936, and was exhibited at Lucas’s Garage on Nottingham Road, Mansfield, in the October of 1936.

The so-called ‘flying  flea’ was an aircraft designed by a Frenchman Henri Mignet between 1920 and 1928, anyone could purchase a set of drawings and plans and build your own aircraft, the cost in 1936 would be about £75, some 500 were said to be under construction at the time in 1936.

The man who constructed one in Mansfield must have had steely nerves as a design fault resulted in quite a few crashes and accidents.


A Heliport for Mansfield?

Coming more up to date in March 1962, Mansfield Chamber of Trade, requested that consideration should be given to the provision of a heliport in Mansfield, and the meeting said a site should be earmarked for one. This was at a time when helicopters were considered to be the next step in aircraft travel, not unlike the 1920s , when helicopters would take you to the main airport, in a shuttle service.

Also in 1962 came the building of Castle Donington Airport in Leicestershire, which replaced Derby Airport, which is now the Toyota factory. Nottinghamshire County Council were asked to put up part of the cost of the airport and at a meeting of Mansfield Town Council in May of 1962, Mansfield councillors were very pessimistic as to the airport making any profit at all. Some councillors thought that the Rates in Mansfield might have to go up to pay for the airport, and to fund the losses some were sure that it would make.

In hindsight they were proved to be wrong, but if history had taken another course  Mansfield might have been on the airport  map today.

Does anyone remember any early flying displays in the Mansfield area, or early helicopter landings in Mansfield, this would make very interesting reading.

This page was added by Tony Clement on 24/04/2017.

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