If you’re travelling around the UK on a spotting trip, here are 7 aircraft you should make a point of hunting out to add to your logbooks.
British Airways A318
Based at London City and operating a daily service to New York JFK via Shannon in Ireland, the two-strong British Airways Airbus A318 fleet isn’t seen anywhere else, and certainly not among the regular BA fleets at Heathrow and Gatwick.
One of only two operators of the DHC-6 Twin Otter (and the newer Viking Air variant), you can catch the Loganair examples, painted in Flybe livery, flying out of Glasgow International to the Highlands and Islands routes across western Scotland.
The ageing biz jets are still used heavily by Cobham from its two bases, at Bournemouth and Durham Tees Valley airports, operating on behalf of the Ministry of Defense to offer training for the RAF. The unique modifications to their fleet of Falcon 20s and the smart blue colour scheme makes them an interesting aircraft to see.
The supersonic airliner was retired in 2003, but you can still find six examples preserved in the UK. If you’re planning a trip to any museums, you’ll likely come across one of the Concorde aircraft. They can be found at Brooklands Museum, Fleet Air Arm Museum, Duxford Imperial War Museum, the National Museum of Flight, Manchester Runway Visitor Park, and there is one Concorde currently stored at London Heathrow airport.
The RAF Transport Fleet
Based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, the Royal Air Force’s transport fleet consists of C-17s, Hercules, Airbus A400M and A330 Tankers (which are also used to transport troops and fly the air bridge to the Falkland Islands. These aircraft are all painted a cool grey colour and fly most days of the week.
At the time of writing, the former L1011 TriStar transports and tankers were still parked up at Bruntingthorpe Airfield in Leicestershire, making an additional one to look out for when spotting in the UK!
There are only two flyable Avro Lancasters in the world (out of thousands built, particularly during World War II). One is in Canada, and the other is part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
But wait, there’s one more Lancaster worth seeing in the UK. It doesn’t fly, but regularly performs taxi runs and the hope is that one day she will grace the skies again. It’s NX611 at East Kirkby, also in Lincolnshire. Find out more here http://www.lincsaviation.co.uk/
Oil Rig HelicoptersOK, I’ve kept this one till last because I know helicopters are not everyone’s cup of tea, but if they are then the UK is a great place to see lots of them plying their trade in transporting workers to rigs in the North Sea and Irish Sea. Helicopter companies such as Bond and CHC have large fleets of different sized helicopters to see. The best places to see them are Aberdeen (by far the busiest, with a dedicated helicopter terminal and lots of movements every day), Humberside, Blackpool and Norwich.
Airport Spotting Guides UK & Ireland
All of the spotting highlights listed on this page and many more are in our new book, Airport Spotting Guides UK & Ireland.
This book details the best spotting locations at over 80 of the UK’s airports and airfields. It lists the best places for photography, driving and public transport instructions, and gives an indication of what aircraft and airlines you’re likely to see at each location.