Museums Spotting

A visit to the Manchester Airport Runway Visitor Park

A combined spotting trip and museum visit before heading home.

Having spent just over three weeks in Europe and the UK, it finally came time to fly home, out of Manchester Ringway in the UK’s northwest. The afternoon day prior however, I managed to squeeze in some spotting in the snow and a visit to the peculiar Manchester Airport Runway Visitor Park.

Dunham Massey Hall Gardens

After spending the icy morning at Dunham Massey Hall, a National Trust property on the outskirts of Manchester, we grabbed a light lunch and headed to the airport. Following a check of Spotterguide we decided to check out ‘spot 1a’ near the Runway 23L threshold. Thanks to 24 hour shade in some spots, and week old compacted snow, the path up was very icy and slippery, but the view was absolutely worth it!

The walk to one of the spotting locations at Manchester Airport

With both runways in use I got some pretty nice angles, even though the lighting was a bit off. While the variety of airlines and types wasn’t quite comparable to Zurich, I did tick off my first Boeing 737-8200, and the TUI Dreamliners were nice to see.

To make the most of the little remaining daylight, we drove back around the airport to the Runway Visitor Park, which includes a Concorde, Nimrod, Trident, the world’s only remaining Avro RJX100, and the forward fuselage of Monarch Airlines’ sole DC10. The British Airways Concorde is the only aircraft displayed indoors, and is usually open for cabin tours too. The RAF Nimrod and BEA Trident are displayed alongside each other in the carpark, and were looking a little worse for wear. The only aircraft with an open cabin during my visit was that of the Avro RJX100, one of only three RJX series aircraft ever completed, and the only complete survivor.

After making my way around to photograph all the aircraft, including a quick dash to the Concorde hall before it closed for the day, I checked out the well stocked aviation shop on site. The visitor park also includes a canteen style café, and plenty of outdoor seating for the warmer months.

The cabin of Avro RXJ100 G-IRJX

With my wallet £50 lighter, and an excellent book called “Eighties Diversion Days” by Mark Williams in my bag, I made my way out to the raised seating area. Thanks to some pretty high fences, it’s not really possible to get unobstructed photos without standing on a ladder, or in my case, on a bench.

While the lighting wasn’t ideal, I was pretty pleased with some of the photos I got. Undoubtably the highlight was having an Emirates A380 taxi past what felt like close enough to touch the wingtip!

Manchester Airport Runway Visitor Park Viewing Area

With the sun dipping below the horizon at 3:45, we headed back to our hotel for the night before flying home the next morning. From a photography point of view the Visitor Park isn’t fantastic, but the preserved airliners, along with the shop make it well worth a visit.

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