AVIATION enthusiasts have been given the go-ahead to display a "treasure trove" of memorabilia in an historic building at Farnborough Airfield.

But Farnborough Air Sciences' hopes of staging large scale money-spinning events outside the former RAF Balloon School have been dashed because of safety fears.

Rushmoor Council planners' decision is a setback for FAST which had hoped the displays of aircraft, missiles and similar exhibits would attract up to 1,200 people at any one time.

The group said the four open days a year would provide "essential income opportunities" through space rented to exhibitors and traders.

It also hoped to provide extra show stands, corporate entertainment and meeting facilities during the SBAC airshow held at the airfield every two years.

The council development control committee was told, however, that the 2.46-acre site was within a designated public safety zone.

And the Government was clear that any new development, which resulted in a significant increase in the number of people within the safety zones, should be prevented.

The committee welcomed FAST's plans for the listed building itself which dates back to 1911 and is owned by Slough Estates.

FAST told the committee that it had accumulated a vast number of artefacts associated with the history of the former Royal Aircraft Establishment.

"This has facilitated a better appreciation of the importance of the site and its buildings, and the discreet and secret work carried out at the RAE," said the group.

"The benefits have gone well beyond military research, and have made a very significant contribution to this country's scientific, technological and commercial development."

FAST's blueprint for the building include an exhibition area, shop and offices on the ground floor, and a lecture room and five offices to let on the first floor.

ALDERSHOT MP Gerald Howarth looked in on a temporary exhibition of aviation history at the FAST (Farnborough Air Sciences Trust) museum store.

He is pictured with John Hardy, a radio, electronic and radar engineer for FAST, tuning in to a Pye PCR 2 radio of the type used on ground stations for listening to high frequency communications during the 40's and 50's.

The museum store, based in R25 building, holds a vital collection of items, equipment and records related to some of the most significant discoveries and advances in aviation since its earliest days.