Sunday, 30 March 2014

KLM out of Manston

KLM morning flight from Amsterdam on
the ground at Manston
I had to go to Manston Airport, sorry, Kent International Airport on Friday to pick up a friend coming from Amsterdam on the KLM flight. It is essentially a bus service, requiring about thirty minutes flying time. I drank a pleasant cup of herbal tea in the cafe and watched the plane taxi up to my window.

This is what flying should be like -- informal yet efficient. This KLM service will be withdrawn in about two weeks time, leaving Kent International Airport with no scheduled flights.

Manston before the airport, 1908.
This is the Ordnance Survey map of 1908. The village of Manston has not yet acquired an airport. Look how close the site is to the town of Ramsgate. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the geography of England, this area is the bottom right hand corner of the country. If you sail down the River Thames from London and turn right when you get to the sea, this is the corner of the country that you go around.

Manston now has an airport.
Air Ministry map 1922.
In 1916, during World War 1, which was called the 'Great War' at the time since they did not know that there would be a second war, the British Admiralty installed an airfield at Manston. It was in a good position to defend London from air attack since it was between London and the Continent, the latter being the only place from which we could reasonably expect air attack.

Towards the end of the Second World War, Manston airfield was converted into an emergency landing ground for damaged bombers returning from operations over the Continent. At enormous expense a concrete runway was built of 3,000 yards in length and 250 yards wide. (A 'yard' is British and neater than a metre.) And this is the problem with Kent International Airport. The runway is too tempting an asset to be left unused but whichever map you look at, the airport is still in the bottom right corner of England and the flight path passes over a seaside holiday town of about 40,000 souls. Aircraft are noisier than in 1916 and Ramsgate is more extensive.

Map on the floor of the concourse,
Manston, sorry, Kent International Airport

Is the map on the floor of the concourse of Kent International Airport a statement of where they would like to fly to? 

I suspect it is wishful thinking.

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