Man who spent £25,000 on sign giving directions to a fake airport in Wales is bringing the 20-year-long joke to an end – but hopes heritage body will take over maintaining it
- A billboard pointing towards Llandegley International has become a landmark
- Sign pointing towards Terminals 1 and 3 located between Rhayader and Kington
- But it only leads to field on the outskirts of Llandegley two-and-a-half miles away
- Nicholas Whitehead spent £25,000 erecting sign near village of Powys in 2002
- He has now decided to bring the joke, popular among tourists, to an end
A man who spent £25,000 on a sign giving direction to a fake airport in Wales has brought the long-running joke to an end – and now hopes
A billboard pointing towards Llandegley International has become a landmark since first being erected by Nicholas Whitehead near the rural village of Powys in 2002.
Drivers travelling east along the A44 between Rhayader and Kington come across signs pointing towards Terminals 1 and 3 of the imaginary airport.
But the sign only leads to a field on the outskirts of Llandegley two-and-a-half miles away, the BBC reports.
Mr Whitehead, a journalist who once wrote with Monty Python’s Terry Jones, spent £25,000 on the sign two decades ago after a ‘wild conversation’ with friends one evening.
He has now decided to bring the joke to an end, but is launching a campaign for the institution he founded to be officially recognised.
A billboard pointing towards Llandegley International has become a landmark since first being erected by Nicholas Whitehead (pictured left) near the rural village of Powys in 2002
Drivers travelling east along the A44 between Rhayader and Kington come across signs pointing towards Terminals 1 and 3
Mr Whitehead said: ‘We thought of renting a sign for something that wasn’t really there, possibly a project that didn’t exist, and we settled on the airport.
‘It started off as a bit of a joke, then we realised it was actually possible. It was made by Wrexham Signs, given the okay, one thing led to another and there it is.’
The sign has become increasingly popular since and now draws tourists to the area.
He added: ‘I think the airport is established now – and I think the establishment should take it on.
‘It’s not exactly a national monument – but it is a national treasure.’
Mr Whitehead now hopes heritage body Cadw will be interested in taking over the upkeep of the sign.
He said: ‘It has become an item of Welsh heritage. It wouldn’t cost them anything like as much as it’s cost me. In terms of value for money, it’s unbeatable.’
Local resident Holly Richards also described the sign as ‘a part of our community’, with many sad to see it go.
She added: ‘I’ve lived in Llandegley all my life. The sign is part of our community.
‘It’s a bit of a running gag – people joke that they’ve just flown into Llandegley and they’re flying back out tomorrow. It’s a wonderful feature.’
Neil Richards, a local farmer, also said it had helped put the rural village on the map.
He added: ‘There’s no end of people who have seen and heard about the sign who’ve stopped at our farm on the edge of the Radnor Forest, asking how to find the airport.
Local resident Holly Richards also described the sign as ‘a part of our community’, with many sad to see it go
The sign (pictured) only leads to a field on the outskirts of Llandegley two-and-a-half miles away
‘Apparently two American Air Force planes landed nearby as part of a military mission in World War Two.’
The fake airport has gained a large following on social media.
Mr Whitehead said: ‘The sign is just a sign. The sign can come down but the airport is still there. The airport exists in the same way that songs exist.
‘If you set fire to the scrap of paper on which Paul McCartney wrote Yesterday, that wouldn’t destroy the song.
‘The song exists as a shared experience; it’s indestructible. It’s the same with the airport.’
The sign was changed in honour of airport fan Jill Dibling following her death. Her family were touched by the poignant tribute.