Model aircraft show in Paddock Wood cancelled after insurance problems
MODEL aircraft enthusiasts have cancelled their annual show – after a music festival expected to attract thousands of revellers was booked for the same venue.
The Southern Model Air Show (SMAS), organised by The Croydon Airport Model Flying Club, was due to be held this weekend at the Hop Farm in Paddock Wood, Kent.
But organisers said on Monday that the show could not proceed because the exotically-named Circo Loco festival was suddenly booked for the Saturday in a nearby field at the 400-acre farm.
The club feared its model planes may end up flying over the potential 5,000 revellers, and said it could no longer get insurance as a consequence.
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A statement on its website added: "Over the past four days we have been working with the Hop Farm to try to agree on ways of continuing with SMAS.
"... Croydon Airport Model Flying Club takes the view that safety is of paramount importance and it is with this in mind that this decision has been taken.
"We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has supported us."
Last Tuesday evening treasurer Rod Hunt declined to comment further, citing ongoing discussions with Hop Farm.
A spokesman for the British Model Flying Association, which provides third party cover for its members, confirmed it was unable to provide insurance for SMAS due to the festival nearby.
Andy Symons, BMFA club support officer, told the Advertiser: "The CAP 658 [Civil Aviation Authority guidelines] cannot be complied with, so we cannot extend insurance."
He added that different sizes of model airplanes needed varying space to move, but deemed the festival was "not in a suitable place."
A spokeswoman for Hop Farm confirmed on Wednesday that the venue booked the Circo Loco DJ music festival about a week ago, but said she was "surprised and confused" by the flying club's statement and decision.
General manager Eddie Kemsley said the nearest point of the music festival, which will run from 2pm to 10pm, was 600 metres from the no-go zone asked for by the air show organisers.
She said the farm held a 70 per cent share in the air show and also stood to lose out, adding: "We are really sort of confused as to why this has happened, but obviously we cannot run a model air show without the model flying club."
The SMAS website says anyone who booked tickets through Hop Farm has been refunded.
Ms Kemsley said 200 tickets had been sold for the air show.