Visitors often ask questions about how the Aeropark is run, such as – why can't it open on more days of the week or for longer hours?, why is there only catering on a Sunday? The following information will perhaps help you to understand why many things that could be done will take time to come to fruition:
- The Aeropark is manned 100% by volunteers who are all members of the Aeropark Volunteers Association (AVA) – they give up their spare time to man the entrance gate and look after the exhibits.
- The Aeropark is totally self-funding, all admission money is invested back in to the exhibits, the facilities, the maintenance of the site and advertising the Aeropark to the public
- The Aeropark is located on Airport owned land but receives no money from the Airport to maintain or develop the site or exhibits
- The AVA has less than 180 members and many of those are not actively involved in the restoration of the aircraft. It therefore takes a lot of hard work by a few people over a long period of time to restore the aircraft and keep the exhibits in good condition.
- Most of the aircraft on display are privately owned by individuals, many by AVA members
- Opening hours are guaranteed whatever the weather, summer and winter. But those hours have to be restricted due to the availability of volunteers to man the entrance gate.
- The income from admissions pays for the cleaning of the toilets, emptying the dustbins, cutting the grass, buying paint and materials to keep the exhibits looking good and all the other costs of maintaining the site.
- Since opening in August 2001, admission fees to the Aeropark have raised around £68,000. This money has been spent wisely and sparingly which has enabled the site to be developed significantly including a new footpath surface, new picnic tables, the purchase and installation of the toilet block, new rest-room and store buildings for the AVA, the new Romney Hut, new exhibits, as well as paying for the general upkeep of the site.
As you can see, the Aeropark is run on a very tight budget. It is hoped to develop the site over the coming years to make it more interesting to new and returning visitors. The aim is to develop slowly and financially successfully so that our small piece of aviation history will be available to children (and adults) for many generations to come.
Without the Aeropark Volunteers Association (AVA), the Aeropark would not exist. It is only their selfless enthusiasm, dedication and willingness to give up their spare time that permits the Aeropark to function as it does today. If we had to pay people to man the entrance gate the Aeropark would surely fail.
It would be lovely if the Aeropark could open every day, every week but it's just not possible at the moment. Hopefully as the Airport grows, flights increase and more and more people visit the Aeropark the funds will swell and opening hours can be increased. But it's a slow process.