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Time flies at the Manchester's Aviation Viewing Park
Manchester Airport Aviation Viewing Park
Member Name: scooch12
Manchester Airport Aviation Viewing Park
Advantages: Lots of planes coming and going, activities for kids, good little shop, food and drink facilities
Disadvantages: Just a bit of maintenance would make it look better
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)
Summary: A super day out for all of the family
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