We’ve been to watch planes take off and land at Manchester Airport on many a sunny and rainy day over the years. I’d never been quite sure of the attraction myself, this whole plane/train spotting hobby, but I am pleased to say that I am now a convert, of sorts.
The whole Runway Visitor Park complex at Manchester Airport has improved enormously over the years, with the addition of a café, event/conference venue and of course the star attraction, Concorde, underneath which you can hold a conference or party. New to us this year are the tours and we were lucky enough to go on the Flight Academy Tour aged 8-12 (also available for ages 4-7) 90 minutes £7 per person.
You start off by climbing aboard a real aircraft, well a half of one from Monach Air. You are then sit in the seats and a welcome and presentation starts. There is some dressing-up to be done, parents and well as children as you are given a talk on what the airport is all about. My son loved wearing the £350 fireman’s helmet with the gold-plated visor, which reflects the heat. Did you know over 20,000 people work at the airport? And that 450 planes land a day and a peak-times this rises to over 650? Impressive stats if I do say so myself!
Next on the agenda was air traffic control and their shiny new £20 million control tower, followed by baggage check and details of how they scare ever persistent birds away by playing different sounds of birds in distress, which puts them right off thank goodness!
We’ve saved the best bit till last, getting to sit in the cockpit and to fiddle with all those buttons, every boy’s dream. This is the bit my son really enjoyed, as you never get to see this view, a real treat. The staff knew everything there was to know about the airport and handled the barrage of questions from the children well. The tour is just the right amount of time and has a good balance between active hands-on stuff and talks.
The not-so good bits are paying £10 for parking and the plane used for the tour has seen better days, being a little cold and damp. The café was great as you can sit and eat whilst watching the planes come and go. We had some sandwiches and hot drink which were good. With a play area and shop and all the planes to watch, this place is worth a visit. You must book in advance to ensure you there is space on the tours.
There are loads of fun special events throughout the year including a special Father’s Day Carvery & Concorde (£24.50 PP) a roast and a tour of Concorde is surely many a Dad’s dream. You can also buy gift vouchers for all the tours which would make a great birthday present.
Not to mention a two-day Aviation and Transport Festival 16th & 17th July, where even the most modest transport fan can fill their boots on all things with wheels, such as 500 classic cars and a the Spitfire Display Team. £5 pp and includes car parking – full details here – Runway Visitor Park