Spotting at Brize Norton
Ever fancied seeing a classic VC-10 buzz just a few feet over your head in a scene reminiscent of St. Maarten’s famous Maho Beach? How about a mix of military and civil types of yesteryear all in one place? Brize Norton is one of the UK’s busiest military transport bases. It is located in Oxfordshire, closed to Abingdon, and around 65 miles northwest of London. Brize is home to the RAF’s VC-10 and L1011 Tristar fleets, as well as the C-17s and a number of Hercules aircraft. Since it is a major staging post for troops and supplies, it also handles a lot of large cargo aircraft, such as DC-8’s and AN-124’s. It also plays host to a number of private airlines being used for troop movements, flying 757s, 767s and DC-10s. The primary spotting location is at the end of Runway 26. The A4095 road leading north from Bampton towards Brize passes very close to the end of the runway. With care you can park near a crash gate as long as you do not block it. Alternatively, park on a nearby road and walk to the spot. Here you will be just a few feet under the aircraft as they approach the runway. It is perfect for photos, and has some views over the ramp (it’s difficult to read things off). To get close to the ramps usually used by the VC-10s, head west from Bampton on the A4095 and follow signs for Black Bourton. If you follow the road through this village as far as it goes, you will come to the perimeter fence. A footpath leads in either direction, and has some close-up views of the VC-10s and the runway. Eventually you can walk to the Runway 08 end too. Here’s a nice aerial view of the airfield . As always, tread with care. Military bases have incredibly tight security. Although spotters are common and tolerated at Brize Norton, don’t push your luck by trespassing or blocking a gate.