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Monday, April 22, 2024
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Angry aviators flying the coop

It is claimed that a slow pace of development at Hood Aerodrome, coupled with a lack of cooperation from Masterton District Council [MDC], is causing prospective hangar builders to go elsewhere – with ratepayers losing out on the potential revenue stream from the leases.

Alec Forsyth unsuccessfully tried to get permission to build a small hangar at Hood for three years before moving elsewhere.

He expressed interest in several sites, but MDC continually flip-flopped on which sites were available, and the development did not progress, he told the Times-Age.

After years of inaction, Forsyth gave up and decided to call around other airfields.

“Ashburton showed me a list of sites, I picked one, and we signed an agreement within three days of calling them; I started building my hangar two weeks later.

“There’s no reason it shouldn’t be like that in Masterton, but the council’s reputation is appalling,” Forsyth said.

“I left Wairarapa because I couldn’t find somewhere to park my plane.”

Six years ago, Mike Ross expressed interest in building a hangar home at Hood, so he could move from Wellington to be closer to his helicopter and his aviation friends.

He put his name down for a plot, and the council drew up plans and even advertised the proposal at Wings Over Wairarapa, but it never came to fruition.

“The council thought it was a lovely idea at first, but for whatever reason, the wheels fell off,” Ross said.

“All I was asking for was to lease a piece of land and for them to let me build there, but it never went anywhere, and there was zero communication; it was just bizarre.”

After two years of unsuccessfully waiting for progress from MDC on his proposed development, Ross bought a piece of land in Carterton where he could fly his helicopter.

Although happy with his decision, Ross said he is “sad and disappointed” to see how little Hood had changed in the years since and regretted that he had not been able to build his home in a passionate aviation community.

“There was great community spirit at Hood; I’m a little lonely on my land,” he said.

“But seeing the mood there change over the past couple of years, I think I probably dodged a bullet by not developing there.”

Hood User Group chair John McMullan said stagnation at Hood is stopping the aerodrome from being profitable.

“The council is always bleating on about how much it costs to run this aerodrome.

“But Mike Ross is a perfect example of how they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

“He would have been paying them the lease fees, and now
he’s paying rates in
Carterton,” McMullan said.

“There are plenty of people keen to lease land and build hangars, if the council would cooperate.”

Bill Izard is currently trying to sell his hangar at Hood, having recently moved to Taupo.

He said the management staff at Taupo actively encouraged people to develop hangars and live on the airfield, which builds a strong sense of community.

“At Hood, it had become almost impossible to do anything,” he said.

“Two years ago, I had to go the nth degree to buy my hangar, and now I can’t sell the bloody thing because the council won’t allow the guy trying to buy it to fly his hot air balloon.”

MDC community facilities manager Corin Haines said council acknowledges the frustration felt by some about the pace of development at Hood.

Haines said the development programme is set out in the Hood Masterplan, but noted it is a plan for the next 20-30 years.

“The intention with hangar development is to provide hangar sites with infrastructure for full utility services – water, wastewater and electricity,” he said.

MDC’s plans to upgrade Hood are currently awaiting confirmation for ongoing funding from an external funding body, Haines said.

“Plans for wastewater infrastructure have always been part of stage one of the current project and are being reviewed as to how it can best be delivered,” he said.

“We endeavour to keep Hood users updated with regular communication on the progress of the Hood infrastructure project and will continue to do this.”

3 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like there is another party involved if MDC is not willing to have the airport run as a business then there is another agenda for the airport 🤔.

  2. The Masterton District Council (MDC) have indeed shot themselves, not just in one foot but both feet. Not only are some Hood users leaving to find greener pastures, some that would like to have come to Hood to operate their business have been told to look elsewhere thus depriving the MDC of much needed income for other projects.
    The MDC seem to be making the rules up as they go along. Lately they have decided not to allow hot air balloons to operate from Hood claiming that there are safety issues involved yet, as far as I am aware, not one of those involved in making the decision has any experience in balloon operations.

  3. It’s just too slow. This and past councils have been underperforming for their rate payers.

Comments are closed.

Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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