San Javier hopes to replace airport with aeronautical museum

The Polikarpov l-16 was a Soviet fighter that figured prominently in the Spanish Civil War

The municipality of San Javier will try to compensate for the closure of its civil airport by becoming a major aeronautical attraction and the permanent headquarters of the Infante de Orleans Foundation, a museum currently based in Madrid which maintains 44 historic aircraft and exhibits them with a series of monthly flights.

Mayor, José Miguel Luengo, made the statement on Wednesday after hosting a council meeting in the Town Hall, at which he was able to understand “the concerns and challenges” that currently concern the municipality.

Among them, he highlighted the measures that are already being carried out to ensure that Santiago de la Ribera becomes the permanent headquarters of the Infante de Orleans Foundation, which was founded in 1989, currently has its headquarters in Cuatro Vientos (Madrid), and is presently seeking a new location

San Javier faces challenges from the municipalities of Segovia and Getafe (Madrid) for the Luengo museum but the mayor says that San Javier has all of the necessary facilities and it’s arrival would be an opportunity to “compensate” some way for the closure of the civil airport.

The foundation has 44 historic aircraft that would be permanently exhibited in the town, and which would also make monthly flying demonstrations, becoming a “great draw” for the municipality, and a major attraction, with people travelling many miles to witness flying history at first hand. It would also expand the aeronautical culture of the area by taking advantage of the presence of the General Air Academy (AGA).

Luengo said that the AGA is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary and all military pilots learn to fly in the town, so promoting the aeronautical culture as a tourist, employment and commercial engine would be an added attraction for the municipality and a contribution against the seasonality of the tourist sector. The AGA is also promoting a large air festival on 9th and 10th June, which is expected to involve around half a million people.

The mayor insisted that the air culture “is a product that is here, is part of the landscape, but it is regarded by many as being something extraordinary”, so the council has opted to take advantage of its full potential.

The president of the Foundation, Carlos Valle Torralbo, who was Iberia pilot for 40 years, has also met with the president of Aena, Jaime García-Legaz, and the regional government to explain the relocation project. Also, AGA is aware of the plans, and confirms that it would welcome the installation of the museum alongside the General Air Academy.

The Foundation received the proposal of Minister Cospedal; and García-Legaz believes that it would be very positive for San Javier

Carlos Valle explained that “in a few weeks” the new location of the Infante de Orleans Foundation will be announced. The option of San Javier is very attractive, but it is on stand-by, waiting for the result of the conversations it is having with Airbus to move the museum to the Getafe factory.

San Javier seemed to be a much better bet at the beginning of the year, when the interest of Airbus declined, but it has now been reactivated.  As such the Foundation wants to respect the chronological order of the applying sites, and ahead of San Javier there is also the former Spanish Civil War airfield at Corral de Ayllón.


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