Dream to turn Red Arrows' home into world attraction
Artist's impressions of a major new tourist attraction at the home of the Red Arrows have been released.
Hangars at RAF Scampton would be converted as part of a multi-million pound project which could attract 200,000 people from around the world every year.
Council bosses are in talks with the Ministry of Defence and RAF about the proposals, which could create more than 100 jobs and voluntary posts.
The scheme would cost tens of millions of pounds and it is hoped the site could be open by 2018, when the RAF celebrates its 100th birthday.
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An independent study completed for Lincolnshire County Council this month concluded the project has the potential to succeed.
Paul Wheatley, head of regeneration at Lincolnshire County Council, which is leading the project, said: "The feasibility study has said this should be, and can be, a major attraction of national and international scale. It isn't another small museum – this is something that would be a national, premiere heritage attraction.
"We want it to be an attraction people aspire to come to – we want RAF Scampton to be a name that is known overseas."
The current proposals involve using two of the base's four hangars for exhibitions, with expansion into a third a possibility.
An exhibition hall would be built to link the two hangars, with another hall built nearby.
It is also hoped the officers' mess building could be converted into a hotel.
Air shows could be brought to the site and visitors would be able to see displays from the Red Arrows.
Exhibitions would focus on the aerobatics team, aviation in the First World War and Cold War, Lincolnshire's aviation engineering heritage and the Dambusters raid.
It is hoped the project would secure the future of the base and pull tourists into the area for longer stays.
Councillor Colin Davie, executive member for economic development, said: "Tourism is a key industry for the county, and a world-class heritage site at RAF Scampton would provide an economic boost.
"There are so many iconic stories associated with the base, like those of the Dambusters and the Red Arrows, that a visitor attraction is bound to appeal to people from all over the globe."
The county council is now organising a series of meetings with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which manages the MoD's estate, to talk about the plans in detail.
It is understood an RAF report on military requirements for Scampton in the future will be published in spring next year and the results of this could help to push forward the visitor attraction project.
The council's current idea is to operate the facility in tandem with continued military activity at the base.
The aim for the new attraction is for it to be self-sustaining and draw tourists from the UK, Europe and countries like the US and Australia.
Cllr Davie added: "Alongside the improvements at Lincoln Castle, we'd expect to see tourists extending their stay in Lincolnshire, which will benefit businesses countywide.
"The next step is to discuss in detail with the RAF and other partners which elements of the plans we can bring to fruition over the next few years."
Grant and Lottery funding would need to be secured for the scheme to go ahead.