Spotting at Kemble

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, UK | Posted on 10-01-2011

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Kemble has become a very popular airfield for spotters seeking out older and unusual airliners as they retire to be scrapped, or spend time in maintenance before moving on to other operators.

The airfield is situated close to Cirencester in Gloucestershire, and part of the beautiful Cotswolds area. In fact, the airfield has recently been rebranded as Cotswold Airport.

It does not have any scheduled or even charter services, and no terminal so to speak. But Kemble has a very active GA community and regular fly-ins. One of the most popular parts of the airfield is the AV8 restaurant and cafe, situated right next to the GA parking area and control tower.

In addition to the GA aspect, Kemble is very active with the storage and scrapping of airliners through Air Salvage International. On any visit you are likely to see a number of Boeing and Airbus types in various states as they are slowly scrapped. In many cases, exotic aircraft never seen otherwise on UK soil are present, so it’s well worth the visit. Recent examples have included Air India A310s and B747-300, KD Avia 737-300s, Air Seychelles B767, Club Air B146 and Air France B747-400s.

Aircraft at the maintenance area

Elsewhere, Kemble is home to Lufthansa Technik and other maintenance companies, and in particular has been heavily involved in storage, maintenance and refurbishment of BAe 146 and Avro RJ airliners. On the north-eastern area you will often see 10+ examples scattered about.

For the military fans, Kemble has a number of Hawker Hunter aircraft in residence, and a preserved RAF Bristol Britannia.

For the spotter, there are are few areas to visit:

1) The A429
This road leads out of Kemble village and almost immediately passes alongside the eastern end of the main runway. From here you can’t miss the lineup of airliners on the main scrapping ramp. A layby on the road allows you to pull over and note these, whilst it is also possible to photograph through the fence. This spot is also good for watching movements on the runway.

Air France A320 in the scrapping line

2) Airport Entrance
Taking the road north from Kemble and following the signs, you will come to the main entrance for the airport. Just before entering the gate, you can see some more of the scrap lineup on your left.

3) AV8 Restaurant/Control Tower
Entering the airport from 2), you will pass some other ramps which may contain airliners. Follow the signs for the AV8 Restaurant and control tower. There is a car park here and you have a good view over the airfield and some distant parking areas. The food is excellent in the restaurant and it’s always busy.

4) Maintenance End
Instead of turning for AV8/Tower, keep going past the Britannia aircraft and you’ll come to a spot where you can see the aircraft parked outside the maintenance hangars. Quick photographs through the fence are possible.

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