Jets set to go Top Gun at Blackpool Airport

Blackpool is to get its own version of Top Gun with the arrival of  a business offering jet aircraft for films.

Friday, 1st January 2021, 7:00 am

Lancashire businessman Steve Hartley, owner of L-39 Aviation, has taken a lease on 14,000 sq ft Hangar Four at Squires Gate, bringing several new jobs, while he looks to develop a new purpose built operational base at the airport.

He plans to operate a range of services in association with High-G Jets Ltd, to include experience flights, film work, high performance training, plus third party maintenance and refurbishment for other owners of similar high performance ex- military aircraft.

The business is named after his Aero L-39 Albatros high-performance jet trainer which was developed in Czechoslovakia by Aero Vodochody.

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Steve Hartley from L-39 Aviation which has moved into Hangar 4 at Blackpool Airport and John Hurrell chief test pilot and owner of High-G Jets.

The aircraft has been refurbished and got its permit to fly after conversion works were undertaken at MOD St Athan airfield in South Wales. He aims to add other aircraft to the fleet, including a recently acquired BAE Systems Hawk T1 Training Jet.

Steve Hartley said, “The L-39 is one of the only fighter jets of its kind in the UK that can operate in civilian mode and the only such aircraft to operate from Blackpool. Its profile will be a great boost for the airport, receiving lots of attention every time it takes off and lands, not to mention the added income for the airport from the fuel bills!

“We also have a WWII Havard trainer war plane which will be based at Blackpool, together with a number of aerobatic and display aircraft.

“We felt that it was important that we support Blackpool Airport as a key regional transport and aviation hub. It offers both security and a relaxed environment from which to base our business and provide a great service to our clients.

"Our ambition is to invest in a regional jet centre hub to encourage classic jet and warbird activity in the North West.”

Steve had always wanted to fly a jet since visiting a Warton Airshow as a young boy with his father.

Coun Gillian Campbell, chairman of Blackpool Airport Board said, “It is great to see more unusual planes active at the airport on a regular basis, as it builds excitement and interest in Blackpool, not just at special times of the year, such as the summer Southport and Blackpool Airshows.

“We continue to work hard to build a secure future for the airport, investing in infrastructure and operations and hopefully eye-catching planes such as the L-39 will help to secure new investment and more airside-based companies to the site, providing a wider portfolio of services to the aviation industry.”

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