Aircraft Spotting at Bedfordshire's Airfields and Airports

Spotting locations, viewing areas and advice on access for airports and airfields in Bedfordshire. Use the hotlinks above or scroll down for spotting information on spotting locations, airfield hangar access, aviation museums, preserved aircraft. Plus all the information has been plotted as Points of Interest and can be downloaded to your SatNavs and Google Earth to make planning your spotting trips abroad so much easier and helping you log many more


There are plans to redevelop the airfield into housing estates, and while the sheds may be safe for now, building on the airfield could prevent airships and other LtA craft from ever flying here again. Please sign the petition online here - it's free and only takes a minute to register your support to save this historic site

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Spotting Info
Come off M1 at J13 or 14 and head for Cranfield. Then follow the signs for Cranfield Airport & University. At the main entrance, if the barrier is down you can either press the buzzer to call through to security, or park up and walk in to ask them. Just let them know you're visiting the airfield, flying clubs or the cafe and they'll let you in. There are numerous areas of parked aircraft so look everywhere.

  • Follow the one way road from the security barrier and turn left at the T-junction. Follow the road and as it bends left to lead out of the university complex, turn right and follow the road round to the left. As you drive round into the car park here, you may pass one or two stored aircraft. From this car park you have a good angle to the right across the grass parking areas, the apron and hangar here if it's open, and to the left is G-OHEA 125 marked "G-DHEA" on the dump. On the southside of the runway is where you'll find G-RAVL HP137 - if it's not visible from here, it is from the cafe area. Don't hang around here though, log what you can and move on, there are more to be logged elsewhere, and be considerate as it's regularly used.

  • Retracing your steps, turn left to head back towards the university entrance and turn left at the first opportunity. This road will take you to the other end of the airfield behind the various hangars, but there are several roads to turn off to log the various parking areas. So, continue straight ahead (it's a left turn on a right hand bend) to a car park where a lot of aircraft are parked tightly together. Again, don't hang around here, just log what you can and move on. IAE here are friendly and allow access on weekdays only, via a donation to charity. You must stay on the red walkway when inside the hangar.

  • Turn left onto the road so you almost double back on yourself and after you've passed the hangar, turn left into another car park with a view onto another apron. From here you'll also see some parked out on the grass. Again, don't hang around, just log what you can and move on. If the hangars are open you may be able to log a few more, but there's no access to Bonus Engineering or Cranfield Aerospace.

  • Turn left onto the road again and follow to the end. Turn left to head towards the control tower and take the first right. This takes you to the main flying club and cafe parking area with views over the grass parking areas and across to the southwest parking area, though they're almost nose on. You can walk the perimeter fence here to get angles on most, if not all, those parked on the grass. To the right, a taxiway leads to the old Cabair hangar. If there's an aircraft parked outside it, probably out of sight from the car park here, it can be seen from the next vantage spot.

  • Make your way back to the university entrance by following the "Way Out" signs and turn left. Just before the offices by the roundabout, there is a compound on the right with the training school containing some wrecks: G-VUEM C500, G-REDU EC225 and an unknown ultralight, maybe an EV92. There is also the tail rotor of an RAF Puma. THen continue along the road, and just before you get to the large roundabout, turn left into a small business estate, the top end of which has a view of the old Cabair hangar mentioned above, to log anything parked outside it. There is a crash gate by the large roundabout, do not block it with your car. Walk to it from the estate as it has views of any aircraft parked here, some of which you can't log or see from the cafe car park.

  • The crash gate on Merchant Lane on the east side of the airfield gives views across to the aprons and may help with any you can't log. Follow the perimeter road around the western edge of the airfield and you'll end up on the high street through Cranfield village. Turn left at the staggered crossroads by The Carpenters Arms and follow to the end. Don't block the crash gate and park sensibly as there are houses down here.
    Last reported March 2013. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report


    Spotting Info
    Head south out of Dunstable town on the B489 and turn left at the first crossroads (right is to Totternhoe and Church End), it's signposted. A once friendly gliding club has been ruined by (yet again) a few stupid spotters who saw fit to lift the covers of gliders for the registration, instead of looking under the wing or just leaving them for another day. This compromised the safety checks of the pilots waiting to fly them, which had to be redone. Ask in the office for access - they are still friendly but you must stick to their rules: there's no access to the hangar and you're to stay on the hardstanding apron. You should be allowed to watch the activity from the apron as long as you don't wander off - you can see most from here but if they're launching from the other end of the airfield you may not be allowed to drive over there.
    London Gliding Club
    Last reported September 2012. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report


    Spotting Info
    Head south out of Billington village on the A4146 and just before you leave the village turn left onto Stanbridge Road. Just up the road here take the first right onto The Rye and after approximately a mile, turn right signposted Park Farm Fisheries. Take extra care as you drive down towards the strip - the road drives through the runway and taxiway so extreme caution and a good, constant lookout is required. Follow the road right round to the left for the hangars. Friendly, ask for access.
    Last reported August 2012. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report


    Spotting Info
    Access strictly by prior permission. Home of Skysport Engineering. Heading north on A1, just before you leave Beeston turn left (should be signed to Brook End). At T-junction in Brook End turn right. Take next left, signed Hatch and Thorncote Green. Go through Hatch and as you go through Thorncote Green, you pass Budna Road on the right. Strip is just on the left.
    Skysport Engineering Aircraft Exhibits
    Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report


    Spotting Info
    Located on A6001 just north of village. The flying club is on an RAF airfield, therefore you need a valid access permit to visit. You can get them at the main gate, but all visitors are requested to telephone the club prior to arrival so the issuing officer at the main gate can be notified of your anticipated arrival. During office hours passes are issued by the Passes Office. At all other times passes will be issued by the Guardroom. I do not know if spotters are welcome. Continue east on the A6001 past the main entrance and on your left is gate guard WT612 Hunter.
    Henlow Flying Club
    Last reported May 2012. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report


    Spotting Info
    A fairly busy helicopter maintenance facility, there's usually something parked outside. Head southeast out of Salford on Salford Road towards the M1 junction. Keep your eyes on the left for the strip at Hulcote Farm - you'll see the windsock and hangars. Shortly on the right is the helipad. There are a couple of locked gates providing vantage points but it's difficult as the helicopters park behind the buildings. For those parked away from the hangar, you can pull in at the entrance to Hulcote Farm to quickly log, or the (much larger) next entrance on the left (they're large enough for you to stop without obstructing the entrance) - there are views across to any helicopters parked south of the hangars and apron. It is possible to park by this larger entrance without obstructing either road so please be sensible. Park up, walk back along the road towards the helicopters and you'll see a "Public Footpath" sign. Walk across the field, heading left towards the wooden fence and this brings you to views of any helicopters parked outside, and possibly into their hangar if it's open. Alternatively, for those parked right outside the hangar, there's a pedestrian bridge that leads across the M1 towards Brook Farm that may provide views, but you can also try the field on the eastern perimeter of the helipad and try looking through the bushes to log the helicopters.
    Last reported September 2012. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report

    LUTON AIRPORT (EGGW/LTN) - TWR 132.55, APP 129.55

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    Spotting Info
    Off M1 J10 and follow the signs. Being the busiest airport in the UK for bizjets, the authorities are very aware of our hobby, and are happy with us as long as we keep clear of restricted areas. Most can be logged from various places around the airport so there are no excuses. Saturday is probably the quietest day, Friday tends to be a biz departure day but there's nearly always a few interesting bits in, at the very least. The various biz ramos and terminal stands are well lit, so viewing after dark is easy. The viewing spots below are all marked in the Spotting in the UK download.

    Bizjets and Terminal Spotting Info
  • Approaching the airport along the A1081, you'll reach the Percival Way roundabout, take the third exit towards the terminal. Before you go under the bridge, turn right into the Mid Term Car Park. It's free parking for half an hour, £4.80 for up to an hour, then there are charges for 2, 3 and 6 hours and a 24 hour charge of £18.80. However there are no restrictions on going out and back in again to get another free half hour. The bus trip to the terminal takes 20 minutes return so it makes this very tight on times.

  • Whether you are on foot or in a car, the mid-term car park is a very good place to get some good photos, sun position permitting. To the right of the South stands and by the mid-term car park and runway you'll see VP-BJW B737 cockpit at the fire station. From the car park you may have views across to the South stands so log those, otherwise, cross the road and up the steps by the Holiday Inn. The apron here is 'The Pond' but you can also see across to the South stands, and keep an eye on the runway as movements can be logged from here. Follow the fence round to the right and keep looking through the gaps for the different angles. Once everything is logged head back to the left and if the Gulfstream hangar is open you may log one or two.

  • Beyond the Gulstream hangar, taking great care along the very narrow pavement, are the 'NWC' (North West Corner) apron and Signature 'HoD' (Hangar of Doom due to the amount of biz crammed in there with little chance of reading them all off). You can follow the fence along the main road towards the hangar (handy if the hangar is open, and you can see across to the other hangars and terminal stands), and you can also walk towards the security barrier but NOT alongside the fence. The guards at the security gate have asked us to log from the other side of this road, alongside the car park. There have been a number of near misses between spotters and vehicles heading towards the security barrier. Also, DO NOT go anywhere near the security barrier itself, keep well away from it - it's not necessary to go near it anyway. Help keep good relations between security and ourselves by behaving responsibly.

  • You can now walk back to the car and through the tunnel to the terminal if you wish - to do the terminal area, you'll need a passenger to get out and do the logging as there is nowhere to stop. Do not drive up to the Easyland offices to view the South stands - there are two 'No Entry' signs here and the Police have demanded that any cars parked or driving through here be photographed by the airport's camera car, and ticketed. Walking through the drop off zone will give you views of these stands and of the Harrods ramp. Then back to the car - it's a fair bit of walking if you choose to do it all, but as long as you keep an eye on the time, you can do it in an hour.

  • Alternatively, you can park at the Luton Airport Parkway Station car park for £7 a day if you arrive before 10am, much cheaper if you arrive after, and for £2.50 return, the shuttle bus will take you to either the Holiday Inn (just ring the bell near it) or the terminal. Buses run from 0500-0000, every 10 minutes and takes less than that to drive between points.

  • Even if you're not staying at the hotels near the bizjets, you can still use their car parks. The Ibis is free for the first 30 minutes, the Holiday Inn is £3 for the first 15 minutes, or £5 for up to 2 hours.

    Cargo & Harrods Spotting Info
    Back to the Percival Way roundabout by the Holiday Inn and head up Percival Way, past all the bizjets. At the mini roundabout turn right, follow to the end and park sensibly on the yellow lines. You'll have to get out of the car to walk to the fence for views of cargo, Harrods, some terminal stands and the biz next to the HoD/NWC but you won't need to be there long. Some people stay there for a while but it's terrible for runway movements and you may get moved on. Back to the mini roundabout and turn right. Keep looking right for aircraft between the gaps in the buildings. Up here the road bends right and on the right is stand 71 where a few biz normally park. Due to ongoing building work, the pull in by the fence here is no longer available so you'll need a passenger to jump out and log what's around. If you're on foot, there's no problem. This road leads to the long-term car park but is now blocked part of the way along with barriers, meaning you can't drive round to the other lay-by just before the car park entrance. Again, if you're on foot, there's no problem. And again, if you have a passenger, there's no problem walking along the road and then through the car park to log everything on this biz ramp.

    Movements Spotting Info
    If you want to spend any length of time here, the best place is the south side crash gate, though it's not good for photos due to the fence. There are back roads that take you from cargo round the eastern perimeter but if you're not familiar with the area it's better to head back to the Percival Way/Holiday Inn roundabout and take the exit AFTER the A1081, which will take you down to the A505 roundabout. Straight over this one and the next, and left at the mini roundabout at the end. Straight over the next mini roundabout, and at the double roundabouts go straight over them both to head under the dual carriageway. This is the B653 and follows the railway line for some time. After a mile or so, turn left at the crossroads onto Chiltern Green Road and after a right hand bend take the next left. Follow this road straight and on a sharp right bend, fork left at the triangle junction. Follow to the end for the crash gate, but you'll most likely see lots of other vehicles there too. Just before the gate there are a few parking spaces if you nose on to the fence but the last two before the weeds are too high and are for 4x4 vehicles only, or you'll damage your car. If these are full you can park further down the lane away from the gate, but park as much on the verge as you can in case of emergencies. The runway is right in front of you and arrivals on 26 will touch down right in front of you too. You also have distant views of the biz aprons so keep an eye on them for biz being towed out of hangars. It's still good for 08 movements but departures will probably be in the air by the time they reach you, so log them as they taxi out, and arrivals may turn off mid runway so don't get caught out.

    Airside Spotting Info
    Bar10 airside has good views. Usually a left side window seat will give you the best chance of logging as you taxi out. If you have to leave your car at the airport while you're away for a trip, you can find some good prices for parking at Luton airport if you go through the easyjet website.

    Public Transport
    Take the train to Luton Airport Parkway station from which a bus service runs to the terminal for £1 unless the service is included on your rail ticket. After logging around the terminal walk away from the terminal towards the bridge under the taxiway. Follow the right hand side of the road and either walk up the steps to the Holiday Inn and 'The Pond' apron or follow the road round and up the hill to the hangars and aprons detailed above. You can walk round to cargo and Harrods if you wish, also detailed above. Terminal to Holiday Inn is about 10 minutes, Holiday Inn to cargo is about 15 minutes although factor in logging as you go. Alternatively, from outside the Terminal you can get on the free car rental courtesy bus or bus to the long stay car park / Pink area, which takes you round near to the cargo ramp and car park at the rear of the Harrods hangars, which will shorten the amount of walking you need to do. Reverse your tracks to get back to the Terminal and the station bus - you can take the courtesy bus back to the terminal from the car hire centre round by Harrods.

    Planespotting Hotels - their locations are marked in the Spotting in the UK download
  • The Holiday Inn Express overlooks The Pond apron and a couple of terminal stands so you can log from the rooms. After you make your reservation you can ring the hotel and request a north facing, top floor room, they are very accommodating and you can spot from the room with no problems - these rooms give you views of the main terminal and biz aprons though you can't see the runway, arrivals, departures and any biz that taxi to and from the Harrods ramp. Rooms 534, 541 and 545 are good examples. South facing rooms do face the runway, like room 524. If they're landing on runway 26 then most run up to taxiway Bravo before exiting so you'll be able to read them off with no problem. Turning off at Charlie is authorised by ATC only. If they're landing on 08 then they will pass in front of you. You can apply for a Holiday Inn Priority card and you get first choice of rooms. The cafe area also has windows and there's no problem spotting from there as long as you keep making purchases and don't make a lot of noise, no radios etc. In the unlikely event that you can't get a good enough room, there are windows halfway down the corridor, and the windows at the end of corridor look across to Easyland and the South stands, and it's just a short walk outside. The local spotters have a good relationship with the hotel manager and staff, who understand our hobby, but some of their customers have previously complained to them that some spotters were using foul and abusive language. The fence around The Pond apron is the Holiday Inn car park and we are expected to act with respect at all times. If you hear or see any spotters, or anyone else for that matter, misbehaving in any way, please contact the hotel staff so they can deal with it. You can use their car park, 15 minutes is £3.
    The Holiday Inn Express features on for reviews, prices and room availability

  • The Ibis is down the hill from the Holiday Inn and therefore has no ramp views, but it's a 2 minute walk up the hill to get there. They have a balcony and if 08 is in use, it's a great place for a few drinks on a warm day. About a 10 minute walk to and from the terminal area. It's also a cheaper alternative to the Holiday Inn Express and you can walk up and sit in the bar of the Holiday Inn Express and spot, providing you make the odd purchase but it's expensive.
    The Ibis features on for reviews, prices and room availability

    AeroReg Photography Tips at Luton, Luton Airport Spotters Email Group, Luton Spotters Email Group
    Last reported March 2013. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report

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    Spotting Info
    This is a private airfield and you must ask for permission before entering the active area. This is a friendly strip but permission must be requested and granted before entering. If you ask, and access is granted, it will usually be to log from the apron, but not to go on the grass and not to enter the hangar. Head south out of Campton village and turn left at the T-junction onto Campton Road. The airfield is on the right shortly after the right hand bend. There is a hangar with the owner's house behind it. Visitors are not welcome on Sundays, please respect this.
    Last reported December 2012. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report


    Spotting Info
    West of Biggleswade on B658. All based aircraft are stored in hangars so it is best to visit on one of their spectacular open days. Small fee to enter but access to hangars is free. The Po2 currently on rebuild in Hangar 1 is not easily seen, ask the guys in the hangar, they are friendly and if they have time they'll take you over to it. The GA hangars north of the runway are out of site behind trees and there's no access to them either.
    Shuttleworth Collection
    Last reported March 2013. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report


    Spotting Info
    Head north through Riseley village and you'll pass a school on your right as the road bends left. Just past the school, turn left up a track and follow it past Sackville Lodge and through the farmyard.

  • After quite a distance along the track, you'll turn left into the farm estate - next to the first building on the right are some disused pig pens housing some old stored gliders. The building itself may also contain aircraft and gliders but you can't see into it.

  • Following the road through the farmyard, there's an open barn on the right containing a few aircraft.

  • Carry on up the hill and there's a stored glider in an open barn on your right, and you'll see the main microlight hangar in front of you. Next to the microlights is an individual hangar with a mesh front so you can log the sole inmate. The other side of the microlight hangar is sometimes open and might give you a better angle on those parked up that end.

  • You will then see the airfield on your left. Park up on the grass near the greenhouse, where you'll find cars and more aircraft inside. Beyond the greenhouse hangar is the clubhouse. Ask for access though it's often denied, with you only being allowed to log by the hangar doors.

  • Beyond the clubhouse and to the left, walking along the final approach path, is a shed housing a few aircraft (G-BCWK, G-BUOW and G-BFZA marked F-BLEL - the wings and rudder with F-B on are stacked against the wall furthest from the caravans; the fuselage, with LEL on the tail, is in the roof. If it's locked up, there are gaps at either end.

  • At the bottom of the strip, beyond the grass runway, are some glider boxes and maybe a couple of aircraft visiting. There may be other buildings and barns containing more aircraft and gliders. Due to the lack of access, it may be better to visit during their annual Grass Roots balloon meet, where there are usually more members around, some of whom may be willing to escort you round the hangars. If the weather is good, there are often a lot of balloons attending, a few aircraft visitors as well.
    Nene Valley Microlights
    Last reported March 2013. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report


    Spotting Info
    Head southeast out of Salford village on Salford Road and it's on the left - you'll see the windsock and hangars. The entrance is next on the left - drive through the farm to the hangars.
    Last reported February 2012. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report


    Spotting Info
    At the A1/B1042 roundabout, head west and take the first right on a left hand bend onto the A603. Ignore the first two right turns down tracks and take the third right. Then turn left for the car park. Access to this airfield was stopped because the owners are fed up with the self-conducted tours by spotters. Head into the clubhouse and start a conversation with the members, they are friendly. You can ask for access, and while it's not unheard of to be given a tour, it will probably be denied unless you find a pilot to ask to escort you round instead.
    Last reported August 2012. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report