Home Airport Spotting Guide Friday Favourite – 16 September – Gatwick Airport

Friday Favourite – 16 September – Gatwick Airport

by Matt Falcus

Gatwick is the long-suffering London airport in the shadow of the busier and more prestigious Heathrow. Yet I want to highlight it as a unique and fantastic place in its own right, and is this week’s Friday Favourite.

Gatwick has grown to become the world’s busiest single runway airport. At peak times, you can often see aircraft touching down just as another get airborne.

In terms of traffic, it is the second busiest British Airways hub, with flights to Europe, the Caribbean and North America. It is also a busy hub for Virgin Atlantic.

Gatwick has always been London’s “charter airport”, and today you can still see a lot of UK and European charter airlines flying in, such as Thomson Airways, Monarch and Thomas Cook. It is also a base for easyJet and Ryanair flights, amongst many other airlines that you don’t see at Heathrow.

Viewing at Gatwick has been a problem since the observation deck closed down in 2002. But there are a few spots around the perimeter and from the car parks to watch aircraft come and go. Perhaps the best place is at the end of runway 08 where there is a crash gate that gives views of aircraft on final approach and lining up for takeoff – but don’t park your car here!

I’m sure many of you remember the classic days of Gatwick from the 60s to 80s when old propliner and first generation jet airliners were the norm. There’s a great DVD you can buy showing these glory days – see here: http://www.avionvideo.com/programDetails.asp?pid=42

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