“ Manchester Airport, Manchester, M90 1QX. „
We decided that we wanted to spend our bank holiday doing something a bit different, not the boring old shopping as we usually do. We visited the Runway viewing park at Manchester airport because we love going on our holidays and on planes, we just never seem to watch them take off and land!
The viewing park is free to enter, although there is a car parking charge of £3 per hour for a maximum of four hours - then the charge stays at £12 for the day for any time longer. It seemed quite expensive at first, but there is no admission charge for the park itself so I looked at it as being £1 per person for the hour's stay we had as the charge is per car. It's also an option to park elsewhere and walk into the park but it's situated down a long, winding road that isn't really people friendly (no footpaths) and I never noticed anywhere around outside where you could park the car. But, if walking into the park - it's completely free. There are also some charges to tour the planes, but that's optional and something we didn't do.
There are some great places to view take off and landing - all viewing areas have full views of the runways. There's a large grassed area at ground level, as well as a raised, paved area and other even higher sections that are up a set of steps, although these are limited. It was busy on the day we visited but there was still plenty of room for everyone to have a good view. There are a very small number of tables but they are extremely limited and apart from that there are no seats apart from inside the restaurant area - some people had taken their own chairs which might be a good idea unless you don't mind standing for a while. Another thing is that the viewing areas are completed uncovered - we were lucky that the weather was sunny but I wouldn't like to visit in the rain or when it was very cold.
One thing I would note though is checking flight times before visiting. We visited at midday and it seemed for about 15 minutes there was nothing landing or taking off - obviously eating into our car park time too. Then it was all systems go and there were planes a plenty taking off and landing. It's obviously entirely dependant on the itinerary of the airport on the day of the visit.
Step on board a plane......
There are a few planes around the viewing park to have a look around - Concorde, Nimrod, DC10, Trident and Avro RJX. The Nimrod and DC10 were shut on the day of our visit but a tour of Concorde was available, although that costs £13.50 per person. I did spot though that with a booked tour, car parking was included so that takes at least £3 off the price. The Nimrod was also available for touring, although not on the day we were there, costing £13. If there's one you particularly want to look at, then it would be worth checking with them before visiting as it seems quite random as to when the planes are open and closed for viewing. The planes that were closed were available for looking at on the outside though. The only thing I thought was a bit of a shame about the planes was the upkeep of their surroundings, the Nimrod looked spectacular for example, but there were weeds growing in the area around it and we didn't think it showed it off at it's best.
Food and Drink
There is a restaurant on site that serves a nice range of food, although we didn't visit on our trip. The food was quite varied - burgers, main meals such as gammon and chips, fish and chips, pie and chips and breakfasts. The gammon and chips, fish and chips and beef and onion pie and chips cost around £8.75 so it seemed quite reasonable.
There is also a takeaway service available too, serving fastfood like trays of chips, snack and drinks. The fast service area seemed spacious and had plenty of room to sit in - it also had a handy arrivals and departures board up to check the status of the flights. One thing to note is there are signs everywhere, understandably, warning visitors not to feed birds or leave any trace of food around obviously because of the danger that birds can cause to aircraft.
There were a set of toilets close to the car park. They didn't look great from the outside - they were housed in containers, but neither of us visited so I can't confirm what they were like inside.
The Aviation Shop
There's a small shop on site that offers model planes and books. A lot were models that plane enthausts would buy to collect but there was also a small selection for children - 'fun' planes that showed the holiday company brands on them eg Thomson, first choice and Virgin which I thought were cute and would be a nice souvenir for kids, especially if they'd just been on their holidays on the same plane! The shop was very busy and seemed popular with the visitors.
There are activities for kids too - there's a couple of small adventure playgrounds and a couple of bouncy castles but I assume that they are weather dependent. The majority of kids I saw seemed more interested in watching the planes take off and land!
Opening Times for the rest of 2013:
August 26th - September 21st: 08:00 - 19:00
September 22nd - October 26th: 08:00 - 18:00
October 27th - December 31st: 08:00 - 16:00
Closed on Christmas Day
Address: The Runway Visitor Park, Sunbank Lane, Altrincham WA15 8XQ
Directions by car: From the M56, leave at Junction 6 and follow the A538 to Wilmslow. After approximately 500 metres take a left turn down Sunbank Lane. At the T-junction go right onto Wilmslow Old Road and follow the road to the Runway Visitor Park gates.
I would definitely recommend the viewing park - if not for a full day, it makes a great afternoon or morning out for the family and is definitely something we'll do again in the near future. I would check the flight times before visiting next time, just to make sure we were there when the airport was full of activity. I've rated the viewing park four stars - just the one taken off because I think they could probably keep the park slightly tidier but on the whole it's a fantastic place to visit.
Thanks for reading :o)
The viewing park at Manchester airport is now a rarity among airports in England, most airports have closed their viewing areas due to security concerns. However Manchester has gone against this trend and recently expanded and updated this facility. Which I personally think is fantastic!
First off all, to get to it, you do not go the main airport terminals, it is located well away from the main buildings and in an area behind the cargo terminals at the side of the runway. (Leave the M56 signposted freight terminal (not the main airport junction) and then you pick up signs for the aviation viewing park and concorde - it's less than 5 mins down the road)
The entry cost has recently increased because of the improvements to the park - it is now £5 for a car and driver and £2 for additional passengers (under 4's are free), I don't think that this represents bad value considering the cost of other entertainment these days - you could stay here all day if you wanted.
The old features:
There are still 3 raised platforms for you to stand on to get a better view of the runway, these also have telescopes you can pay for on them, I've never felt the need to use them though! These raised areas are fantastic as it means you can take photos without looking through a wire fence. In between the platforms is a reasonable sized grass area with some picnic benches, of course you can bring your own chairs and rugs etc with you!
The old portacabin snack bar and shop have now gone and been are now incorporated into the new building.
The new features:
First of all anyone who has been in the last few years will notice that Concorde has been moved. It is no longer in the open air for everyone to see, in one way this is good as it doesn't block the view of the runway (it only partially did if you were stood on one of the platforms anyway) BUT, you can now only see it properly by paying £12.50 to go on a tour round it - I think this is a bit steep - the tour is 45 minutes long and takes you all the way round it, inside and out - perfect if you an avid Concorde enthusiast but for someone like me who just likes planes and would just like a look inside seems a bit over the top, I'd have been willing to pay say £2-3 to go in the hanger, take a few pics and have a look inside but didn't think the £12.50, 45 minute tour would be worthwhile to me. Instead we just peered through the glass in awe at this fantastic aircraft.
To one side of the hanger is a sit down restaurant, we didn't go in as we only wanted a snack, we had a quick look at the prices, Unfortunately I can't remember them but I think it was usual restaurant fare, I didn't say 'ooo that's cheap' or 'that's expensive!'
Before the hanger is an aviation shop selling radios, model aircraft, photos, books etc - anything you could want to do with a plane really!
Further round there is a takeaway snack bar - chips £1.50 (I think) so reasonably priced, they had hot dogs, burgers, ice creams, crisps, tea, coffee etc. There was another big grass area outside here with loads of picnic benches and still a good view of the planes, in fact when they were taxiing some were so close it was almost like you could touch them!
There's an old plane in this area that was open when we were there, we went in and had a look round it, it's nothing special, just an older plane!
Overall, if you have any interest in planes at all, I'd recommend a visit to the viewing park, you get an excellent view of the planes and it's an excellent opportunity to take some good photos!. And, you don't have to be sad to go!.....there are all sorts of people there, there are the enthusiasts with the radios and booklets, there were plenty of others like us that just like planes and find it fascinating watching them and taking photos, there were also quite a few families there when we were there (it was school holidays) and I would say it's a perfect place to take kids (although no ball games allowed) to show them what goes on in an airport.
We did get a bit bored after a couple of hours, when it's the same planes landing and taking off - we like variety! It's such a shame more airports round the country don't have areas like this. I'd love to see the A380 at Heathrow!! (Okay maybe I'm a bit sad!!)
An excellent afternoon out!
The wife (vickitoria10) is obsessed with going on holiday and as an extension to this, she is obsessed with planes and also with airports. And so, whenever we're over in Manchester, she always wants me to take her to the Manchester Airport Aviation Viewing Park, and with me being a good husband, I regrettably do so.
There's no prizes for guessing that the viewing park is right next to Manchester Airport, but you may not know that it's the only airport viewing park left in the country (or so the wife tells me, in a vain attempt to get me excited about our visit).
The park consists of a car park, some grass, a couple of viewing platforms and literally hundreds of sad people who really need to get a life. In the past few months, there's been a bit of re-generation work and the site now boasts a big swanky hall that has a restaurant, cafe, gift shop, toilets... oh and a Concorde.
This magnificent feat of engineering (the Concorde, not the hall) used to be located outside for all to see, but is now placed inside and you can only see it if you pay the ridiculously expensive price of £12.50 each! Being tight (and having paid £7 to get in - £5 for the car, and £2 per additional passenger), we decided to simply squash our faces against the glass and stare in awe at the giant bird that sadly no longer dominates the aviation industry. You can tell that Mr Concorde isn't happy in his new home - he looks sad and seems trapped in his claustrophobic environment. I'm sure he'd much rather be back out on that runway taking people over the Atlantic in record time :(
After gawping at Concorde we made our way into the small gift shop that sells pretty much anything plane-related you can think of, from scale models to inflatable toys (planes) to pens, pencils and rubbers. These seemed relatively reasonably priced, but I managed to drag the wife out without making a purchase.
As mentioned earlier, there's both a licenced restaurant and a small cafe selling chips, ice creams etc, but we'd brought own own food along with us and sat down to eat it on a picnic bench. The wife was having a great time watching the planes land and take off, and we did play a quick game of the ever-so-fun "guess the tail fin" where the first person to correctly guess the plane is the winner.
After eating our dinner, we made our way to one of the old planes that is on display and had a quick look around it, but to be honest, when you've seen one plane, you've seen them all!
There's a couple of viewing platforms that elevate you above ground level to get a better look of the runway. The platforms are filled with all sorts of sad people who are writing down the plane numbers, listening to the pilots' radios, taking photos and waving at passing planes... some of whom kindly wave back with a look of sympathy on their faces.
More information about the aviation viewing park can be found at: www.ohmygodyoureallyneedtogetalife.com
...don't tell the wife, but despite my protests and mickey-taking, I quite like the viewing park... it's a cheap trip out and it is kind of exciting watching the planes land and take-off - although you'll never hear me admit that in public! :)
We live half an hour away from Manchester Airport and we go to a farm shop near there called Nixons which sells fresh meat, and so sometimes on a nice clear day we will go to Manchester airport aviation viewing park.
I hadn't really ever seen a plane taking off apart from when I had been on them...and so when my husband first took me I was really excited, especially when there was an emergency with on of the private planes with fire engines and police cars around it...! Lol.
It costs £5 for your car and driver, then £2 for every additional passenger...this has gone up recently as it used to be £1 for additional drivers, and most of the people will charge you just £5 for your car even if you have other people with you. Though you might get a jobsworth who'll charge you more to sit on a piece of grass and watch some planes...! The price is a little steep as you can only really stay for an hour at the most, as watching planes can't really keep you entertained for longer than that unless its a hobby!
Concorde is also at Manchester airport, and you used to be able to see it from the viewing park, but they have now put it inside and you have to pay extra to go in, Im not sure how much this is, and I think you have to be "invited" as its used for corporate events, which is VERY annoying, its onlu just been opened so I have no idea of prices.
There is a shop which sells plane memrobilia and a small cafe and toilets for coffee and snacks.
It is expensive for what it is, but its a nice little trip especially for little kids who love planes!!!
i went to manchester airport on monday the 5th of may 2008.but when i arrived at terminal enterance to go through to the main airport lounge with the very large windows and cafes.it has now been turned int another departure lounge only.you now cannot get into any part of this building to look and watch aircraft movements.regular vistor.
The Manchester Airport Aviation Viewing Park is ideal for Plane enthusiasts of all kinds, in my case as I work in Travel specifically the Aviation field my interest is seeing the various Airlines operated from Manchester and for my partner as he builds Aircraft he is interested in the actual aircraft taking of from Manchester so overall it is ideal for all people that enjoy a trip to the Airport.
I must warn you though that if you do decide to comment on the plane or airline you may be launched upon by the Plane spotters that regularly make the trip out to the aviation field armed with walkie talkies and binoculars not to mention the wide lens paparazzi cameras that can be seen on every other person.
The Aviation Park is located on the A538 between Junction 6 of the M56 motorway, I was coming from Chester so I took the turning for the airport as usual and it is clearly signposted for the Aviation Viewing park and the directions are easy to follow. Turn down Sun bank Lane and you will see the Romper Pub on the left turn up this road, and take your next right onto Wilmslow Old Road and follow to the end into the Aviation Park.
I would recommend a route planner if you are not a regular visitor to the airport.
Each car and driver costs £3.00
Motorbike and driver costs £2.00
Additional passengers £1.00
As you will see the pricing system is strange it would be much better if there was a charge for car and passengers and a charge for visitors on foot.
One good thing about the Aviation park is that it is open every day apart from Christmas Day and opens 8.30am up until 8pm and there are always people there, however I went last Sunday and a Sunday in November is extremely cold, so wrap up warm.
There is a fast food stand located at the viewing park that sells a variety of snacks including, jacket potatoes, burgers, chips, hot dogs and soup. Hot and cold drinks are served also however the prices are not too extortionate.
Mark and I got one portion of chips and two cheeseburgers and this came to £6.70, too me I think this is a bit pricey but beggars can't be choosers.
No dogs are allowed at the Aviation Viewing Park
There is also a grassed picnic area and you are welcome to bring your own items of food onsite
Litter bins are located all over the viewing park and the site is well maintained and kept extremely clean
Toilets are located at the site and are communal but are kept clean and are fairly pleasant to use as far as public conveniences go.
The main event:-
Located at the Aviation Viewing Park is a retired Monarch Airlines DC-10 Aircraft which has been converted into an aviation classroom suitable for School groups and tours which can be prebooked for a tour and gives the real feel of being on an aircraft as the interior is complete with cockpit and audio/visual kit. This can only be pre-booked and can be arranged on 0161 4892442.
The last civil airliner built in the UK is also on display in the UK, the Avro RJX.
There are 3 raised platforms located around the viewing field that are ideal for taking close up photographs and run alongside the run way and you can also use the fixed binoculars located on the raised platforms for a small cost, I did not use this facility so am unable to check out the actual cost but am sure that it was £1.00
Also on site was the main attraction the retired "Concorde", it made 413 flights from Manchester.
In March 2004 the Concorde was moved to the Aviation Viewing Park and onboard tours take place costing £12.00 per person, this is a fully guided tour where you get the opportunity to sit in the seat of your favourite famous person but watch that you don't bang your head as most people do not estimate how low the ceiling is! The standard tour lasts approximately 40 minutes where the tour begins with an audio/visual tour, then a guided tour underneath Concorde before completing the onboard tour where you are then presented with a certificate to state that you have been on board Concorde.
Technical Tours are also available which gives more time on board for passengers and more time in the flight deck, this particular tour costs £20 per person and lasts for approximately an hour.
There is also a visitor centre located on the site offering plenty of factual and historical information to visitors and there is also an Aviation centre located next to the refreshment stands and offers plenty of timetables, memorabilia, ties, photographs, binoculars, replica aircraft, basically anything a flight enthusiast would like!
There is plenty of space at the car park located directly to the left of the entrance and is a gravelled area looking on at the runway from the comfort of your own vehicle.
Beware if you do decide to stay in your vehicle though as you will hear a lot of walkie talkies being operated and groups of plane spotters congregating around certain vehicles, it is easy to get addicted!
There is an additional car park located adjacent to the entrance which is intended for the overflow and this is just a short walk away from the viewing area.
My conclusion of the visit to the Aviation Park is that it is full of plane enthusiasts and if you are not 100% positive sure of the aircraft type e.g an A320 or a boeing 757 DO NOT COMMENT as you will be corrected and this will be accompanied by a dirty look, I was pre-warned before I left so didn't dare to say anything but found the atmosphere was relaxed and the people were friendly enough so please don't let me put you off.
Ideal if you want something cheap to pass the time and would like to learn a bit about Manchester Airport.
This isn’t so much an opinion of the viewing park as such, more an alternative for those who aren’t happy to have to pay several pounds for the rather dubious honour of standing on rough ground, with very little seating and a kiosk offering weak tea. If you go inside the airport and take the lift to the roof, you’ll find a spectator area that’s free. There aren’t any seats, but there’s ample space for parking if you’d prefer to sit in your car whilst making notes of the aircraft comings and goings. Plenty do. There are also windshields to make things more comfortable for those who stand outside. Like the main viewing park (the one where you have to cough up your dosh), there’s a small kiosk, but I honestly don’t remember seeing a shop selling gifts and aircraft collector items. There may have been one, but don’t be too disappointed if there isn’t. That’s it. Not much, I admit, but a lot of the less serious aircraft fans don’t know about the roof. Oh, and just for the record, I have no interest in aircraft at all. I just went along for the ride with a friend to the viewing park one day and wasn’t impressed. I discovered the roof when my daughter’s flight was delayed and I had to do something to kill the time!
The aviation viewing park is rather expensive for the sake of watching some aeroplanes. It is just a bit of scrub land - not even very nice where you can sit in your car and watch. Instead I would recommend any spotters just to wander around inside the airport where you can get great close up views! It is also warm which is an added bonus. Alternatively you can just park up on one of the roads which run along the runway or sit in a farmers field at the end of the runway. Happy spotting!
G-BOAC is the star attraction within the Viewing Park. It is the first Concorde to go on public display in the UK and is the most centrally located and easily accessible. The park is situated on the A538, between Junction 6 of the M56 motorway and the airport tunnels. Turn down Sunbank Lane, by The Romper public house, then right onto Wilmslow Old Road and follow to the end.