The owner of Peterlee Parachute Centre has spoken of his devastation after the runway at Shotton Airfield was trashed by intruders.
The grass runway at the airfield is believed to have been damaged by off road bikers sometime overnight between Wednesday, February 21 and Thursday, February 22.
Ian Rosenvinge, who runs the parachute centre from Shotton Airfield, said a team of volunteers went out to repair the bulk of the damage today, February 23, but that it would be until April before the grass would take.
He said: "This is pretty devastating stuff - it has taken a long time to get the runway to the standard it was at prior to this damage, with grass being reluctant to take on the former Colliery Slag, and this action will certainly set the integrity of the grass runway back.
"We believe the damage was caused by three quad bikes who have turned up quite a bit of the grass.
"We have had the odd off road bike causing damage to the runway before but this is the first time it has been on this scale.
"We have had 15 volunteers made up of parachutists and pilots come down to sweep the debris away.
"The runway was constructed 30 years ago on the old Colliery site and it has taken that time to get it where it is today, so it is devastating."
Shotton Airfield, which also has a hard runway, is the operating base for Peterlee Parachute Drop Zone which trains in the order of 2,500 people to make their first skydives each year.
It is considered a Site of Significant Sporting Interest having held National Championships and National Coaching Courses.