Aircraft Spotting at Greater Manchester's Airfields and Airports
Spotting locations, viewing areas and advice on access for airports and airfields in Greater Manchester. 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
PRESERVED & STORED AIRCRAFT IN GREATER MANCHESTER - its location is marked in the Spotting in the UK download
WS726 Meteor is preserved 1855 Squadron ATC on Hillside Avenue, Royton and easily visible
XM474 JP cockpit and WG418 DHC1 are stored outside at 1940 Squadron ATC on Mayford Road in Levenshulme. They're round the back of the building and so may not be visible if it's locked up. Last reported January 2012
XM603 Vulcan is preserved at the former Woodford airport and is visible from Old Hall Lane that runs along the southern perimeter to Woodford's Aero Golf Club
159233 Harrier is hanging near the cafe in the Imperial War Museum North, Salford Quays
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BARTON AIRFIELD - TWR 120.25
Exit the M60 at J11 and head southwest on the A57. The airfield is on the right after 1 mile.
Park in the car park and walk to the left past the cabins to log the helicopters. You should be able to log all aircraft on the grass from here.
Follow the path next to the grass towards control tower and go up the stairs one level. If you missed any on the grass you will get them from here. Walk around the balcony as aircraft are parked behind the tower and beyond the portacabins, therefore hidden from view from ground level. Looking out to the west, just beyond the western airfield boundary you can see the helipad, where police helicopter G-GMPX MD900 will be parked up if it's not out on a call. The large hangar there also houses 4 helicopters which are readable if the doors are open. At the bottom of tower is where the pilots sign in. Friendly airfield, ask here for access to the hangars, a hi-viz jacket is required and you should be able to sign in and go round the hangars, sometimes you're escorted. Either way you're normally not allowed out onto the grass. An email in advance may help your chances as access has been known to be denied, especially if the airport is busy.
If you can't access, get what you can from just outside the door (straight ahead is the large GA hangar with the Brian Harbitt blister hangar on the right - to the left of the large black GA hangar is the fire station where you'll find G-AHUF DH82 marked "T-7997" stored) and walk back towards the car park. In between the blister hangar and the main clubhouse is a taxiway. Walk down there towards a shop and turn left (this may be roped off so walk past the clubhouse with it on your left and in to the car park). There is a small path that runs alongside the clubhouse that will get you on to this road that leads to the hangar. Next to said shop there is a track that leads to the Blue Helicopter hangar. Very friendly here, ask an engineer for a look round, no problems, don't forget the dismantled aircraft along the back wall. If it's locked up there are some gaps to peek through. There are large gaps at the edges of the doors but it's dark inside so take a photo with flash. Opposite this hangar is a grey hangar/container housing MT-03 G-LUNG.
Back to the road and on the right a couple of aircraft are parked this side of the blister hangar, opposite them is the maintenance hangar and you get a different angle at the main hangar. You might not be allowed round the maintenance hangar but all can be logged from the door if it's open. Heading back to the car park, there's another hangar, Hangar 2 - Lancashire Aero Club, opposite the clubhouse and cafe, you can ask in here for access, they're also friendly.
Manchester Barton EGCB Residents and Movements blog - updated daily
Last reported March 2013. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report
MANCHESTER AIRPORT - TWR 118.625 (05L/23R) & 119.4 (05R/23L) / APP 118.575 / GND 121.85
Off M56 at J6, follow signs. These viewing spots are marked in the Spotting in the UK download.
The top level 13 of the Terminal 1 multi-storey car park has views of the cul-de-sac out of sight from the Aviation Viewing Park, but at £2.50 for 30 minutes, £4.50 for one hour, £8 for 2 hours, £15 for 4 hours, it's too expensive to stay for long.
Southside public footpath - exit airport and turn right at the roundabout. Continue, go through approach for 23R to the T-junction and turn right onto the B5166 Styal Road. Take the fourth right onto Moss Lane, go past G-AVFG Trident forward fuselage marked "G-SMOKE" as a fire training aid, past the double crash gates and pull in after Styal Show Ponies. About 150 yards past the show ponies, pull up where there is a signed bridleway on the right. Entrance is on right side of road and perfect for views of NEA's ramp where bizjets park, all of Terminal 3, some of Terminal 1 and tops of the tails on Terminal 2. Great for photos on 23R. You are advised to bring wellies as it gets very muddy, though if you follow the fence round it gets drier. A short walk up here and you are facing the Ocean Sky biz ramp. Anything parked in front of the hangars is visible where it wouldn't be from the multi-storey car park.
Aviation Viewing Park (AVP)
Aviation Viewing Park (AVP) - south of cargo, close to 05L and signposted. Open 0800 until dusk every day except Christmas Day, the cost per car is £3 per hour or £12 per day, regardless of how many people in your car, so load it up and share the cost. Multi Entry Tickets are also available, which I believe are £25 for 25 visits, please enquire at the Aviation shop. Plus you get a further 10% off if you are a member of the Aviation Society when you purchase your ticket from the Aviation shop. The ticket covers one person for one visit and is not transferable. Tickets can be purchased from the attendant in the entry kiosk or from the Aviation Shop. Free entry for pedestrians, public transport users and bicycles. For public transport, you can catch bus 200 from the railway station. Great views of 05L/23R and it's ideal for photographs but Compass Bay and hangars block views of the terminals. 05R/23L is off to the right in the distance but anything using this runway has to taxi past so you won't miss anything. Preserved here are G-BOAC Concorde in its own hangar, XV231 Nimrod, G-AWZK Trident, G-IRJX 146 and G-DMCA DC10 nose. The AVP runs tours of Concorde and the Nimroad so it's best to book in advance as they fill up quickly. At weekends, at least one of their outdoor exhibits - the Trident, 146 or DC10 nose - are open free of charge. This is where you want to stay all day and then nip up the top of Terminal 1 car park in case there is anything parked up on the stands that you haven't seen. Or do the reverse. Alternatively, park in the Travelodge, pay and display is £5 all day and it's then a 15-20 minute walk to the AVP through cargo. If it's open, the Ellie8 cafe in the cargo area comes recommended.
Spotting in the Terminals
Terminal 1 airside - a cafe area allows views of traffic parked on the western side of pier B and the south side of pier C. If you are departing from a gate on pier C you can look out onto Terminal 2 apron, but there is no way back when you've entered this area. Pier B views are good either side, but little else can be seen except passing traffic. Terminal 1 you need to go down the pier (gates 1-13) for decent views. The other pier in T1 (20s gates) also gives some views but not much use for photos. You can see T2 and cargo from here. When you land here, you're shepherded straight to arrivals.
Terminal 2 only has views airside, and then mostly of aircraft parked on that apron area, those parked on Terminal 1 pier C facing north and cargo movements.
Terminal 3 again only has views airside, this time looking out between piers A and B of Terminal 1. You can also see traffic landing on 23R and if it's between 12:00pm and 3:00pm, traffic taxiing to use this runway. Terminal 3 is closest to the runway, but you can see very little of what's already in, so mainly it's movements only. You can spot from the airside gate at any of the 3 terminals when checked in, with different results.
Planespotting Hotels - its location is marked in the Spotting in the UK download
The Travelodge is within walking distance of the AVP, approximately 10 minute walk - cross over the road from the Travelodge, head right and follow the road round to the left at the roundabout. Fork left and it will bring you to the viewing park which is signposted. From the hotel you can see the aircraft on approach or after take off depending on wind directions. You will need an SBS box for the registrations though. The best rooms are even numbered in the range 330-352, the higher floor the better. The car park costs £5 per day whether you are staying here or not, cheaper than a day ticket at the AVP though. You can't see the aircraft from the ground because of the freight buildings. If you head left out of the Travelodge, away from the main roundabout, after about 200 yards you come to a path which takes you around the perimeter for views. To travel to the terminals, there's the No 18 Arriva bus (or the 19 if your travelling 0300-0500). Or the Travelodge operates a mini bus to and from the airport for a fee.
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The Premier Inn is next to the Travelodge detailed above and much of that information applies here, namely the walk to the AVP and the walk to view cargo. Floor 5 - rooms 515, 516, 517, 519, 521, 523, 525 and 527 offer good views, floor 6 (specifically 615, 616, 617, 619, 621, 623, 625, 627) will be the same, with 415, 416, 417, 419, 422 (NOT 421), 423, 425, 427 on floor 4. Floor 5 are family rooms so there's more than just the double bed. These look out over the ramp with great views of 23 but departures are a bit tricky as they go out of view behind the hotel fairly quickly - not so good for 05 approaches therefore. The higher the floor the better. You will need an SBS or equivalent to log movements. Views from the following rooms will allow you to see across the ramp and only 23 approaches / departures - you cannot see anything on 05 from here: 6th floor - 602, 603, 604, 606, 608, 610, 612, 614; 5th floor - 502, 503, 504, 506, 508, 510, 512, 514; 4th floor - 402, 403, 404, 406, 408, 410, 412, 414. The windows sills are steel so ideal for a mag mount antenna.
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The Radisson Blu between Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 has great views of the airport but only in south facing rooms in the left (west) wing of reception so make sure this is clear when you book or when you arrive. Top (9th) floor Business Class even number rooms, room 948 is a great example, have full width windows so views are great. You can move the small table and comfy chair over the windows for comfort and there are plug points for your laptop and radar box. Food is expensive but room service saves you missing anything.
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TAS The Aviation Society, Manchester Spotters Email Group, Manchester Movements Email Group
Last reported March 2013. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report
MANCHESTER-MUSEUM of SCIENCE & INDUSTRY
Inside the city ringroad alongside the A6143 and well signposted off the main roads. Museum of Science & Industry. Parking at the museum costs £7 so if you're just visiting the museum for the aircraft, you can park just up Liverpool Road for around £2 an hour. Entry is free but donations are appreciated and deserved.
Last reported January 2013. Want to update or confirm the information is still correct? Send in a report