London is a major city and sees a lot of demand for air travel, both for tourism and business.
It’s major airports at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted handle thousands of passengers every day from all over the world, with airliners big and small.
However, there’s also a lot of demand for private aircraft movements, in biz jets and lighter aircraft.
With the main airports so heavily slot controlled, and clogged up with airliner movements, these private aircraft are often forced to use other airports.
So where can you see them?
A former wartime airfield to the south of London, Biggin Hill is today a busy private airport which handles biz jets and props, as well as historic aircraft.
The Lookout Coffee Shop offers a place to enjoy a drink whilst watching aircraft movements at Biggin Hill. You can find it on Maitland View (postcode TN16 3BN). From here you will see most movements, particularly on the main runway and nearby parking areas.
Despite being a very busy airport for low cost airlines, Luton is also one of the best airports in the UK to see biz jets.
These aircraft come from all over the world when visiting London, and use Luton as a place to land and park up. Various FBOs and handling agents look after these aircraft, and there are many parking aprons for them to use.
Driving around the access roads to the hangars, cargo centre and other parts of the central complex will offer glimpses of many business jets and other aircraft parked around the various aprons. You can park at the Holiday Inn for the nearer ramps, and you can use the Long Stay Term car park for free up to an hour (follow the road as far as you can) to log the biz jets parked alongside it.
Right in the heart of London’s docklands, London City is a tiny Airport which Sees scheduled flights to business destinations, using its short runway.
The airport also handles a good number of biz jet movements, which park on a separate apron to the west of the passenger terminal.
On the dock opposite the airport to the north, there is a walkway running the length of the runway with great views. From here you will see every movement.
Not strictly in London, Farnborough is nevertheless a busy airport for biz jets which are visiting the capital.
The airport is famous for its biennial air show and history of aviation development.
Today, various FBOs look after private nets, and Gulfstream even have a maintenance base here.
The cul-de-sac alongside the FAST Museum, Rae Road (postcode GU14 6XE) is more or less in line with runway 24. You can look along its length, and approaching aircraft will pass very low overhead. Walk a little along the main road to get a good vantage point, or read off (with strong binoculars) aircraft parked up on the north side.
The RAF base where the Royal Family’s fleet of aircraft usually fly from is a few miles north of Heathrow, in West London.
It is also known to handle private jet movements and VIP flights.
Because of its sensitive nature and military use, Northolt is not the easiest of airports to spot at and extra care should be taken not to draw attention to yourself.
West End Road/A4180 (postcode HA4 6NG) passes the end of runway 25. Just past the petrol station the hedge disappears and you have a view down the runway.
Not far from Farnborough, to the west of London, is Blackbushe.
Once a civil airport serving the capital in the days of classic propliners, today it is a busy general aviation field and also handles plenty of biz jet movements.
You can easily see aircraft parked up through the fence alongside the terminal.
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