Spitfire enthusiasts are engaged in a race against time to save Britain’s best preserved Second World War airfield from being turned into a wind farm.
Perranporth, home to 24 RAF squadrons between 1941 and 1944, was put on the market by former mobile phone magnate John George with an asking price of £1.5million.
Members of the Spitfire Society immediately reacted by forming the Spitfire Heritage Trust in order to raise the required funds and preserve its future as a living piece of history.
However, with just days to go before the mid-June deadline, it remains £200,000 short of the sum needed.
The trust is believed to be the preferred bidder, but if it cannot raise the required amount the 330-acre site in West Cornwall will be sold to a solar energy company which is believed to be planning to develop the airfield as a wind farm.
David Spencer Evans, chairman of the trust, said: “We understand there is only one other serious offer on the table, from a solar energy farm, after a lower bid was discounted.
“It is an ideal site for a wind farm so we are assuming that is what they are planning to do. However, the site would be significantly changed. It would be a tragedy if we lost this area of outstanding natural beauty.
“When this is gone, it’s gone and lost forever; it’s the last one.”
Mr Evans said Britain owed the Spitfire, and the men who flew it, a great debt.
“The owner, who is himself a pilot and Spitfire enthusiast, has made it clear that his preference is to sell to us,” he added. “But it comes down to us being able to meet the deadline to secure the deal.
“We know people connect with the Spitfire. We’d urge people to help and be a part of saving a national icon.”
If the trust can raise the remaining funds, it said it would enable people to be able to see, touch and experience Spitfires for generations to come.
A major heritage investor has already pledged “a significant sum” to back the purchase, while an entrepreneur looking to run pleasure flights in vintage aircraft from the site has also donated funding.
The land, on cliffs at Perranporth, boasts one of the finest views in Cornwall and is one of the best preserved wartime airfields.
The site features the original control tower, underground bunkers, fighter shelters and a battle centre.
Hangars there have been used by The Spitfire Society for the last 30 years for work housing and restoring original planes, some of which were located by its team of Spitfire hunters.
The trust also has further plans to restore original Spitfires.
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