I fly a Cirrus SR22 for fun and on business and I’m based in England. Mostly I fly to Europe, especially Holland and Northern France and it’s fairly technical flying in airways and into big airports. But the other day the weather was beautiful and I just took the morning off and went flying. I went up to Wellesbourne Mountford solo VFR. A nice simple flight that I’ve done lots of times before. Sometimes the best flying is just going somewhere fun and familiar. It reminded me how many great airports we have in the UK that welcome light aircraft. Here are some of my favourites:
- Wellesbourne Mountford. This is actually near Stratford-upon-Avon and a great place to visit. There’s a classic English ‘greasy spoon’ airport diner on the field as well as a Vulcan bomber (see picture). Nearby, there’s Shakespeare’s birthplace and the Royal Shakespeare Company plus an old English country house.
- Newquay. Newquay is an old RAF base and it has a huge runway. But now it has been civilianised. What makes it special is that it is only a couple of miles from the North Cornwall coastline and a beautiful beach. You can have lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant right on the beach or go to beautiful Padstow for lunch at Rick Stein’s.
- Duxford. Duxford is home to the Imperial War Museum’s aircraft collection. It’s a fantastic museum with a Concorde, a B52, an SR71 (just 49 higher than an SR22 – talk about turning it up to 11) and many other beautiful and famous planes. Even better if you can fly in during the Duxford air show. I was number 2 to a landing B17 last time!
- Cosford. Another airfield with a museum attached. This time it’s the RAF museum and more wonderful planes. The place is operated by the RAF but they welcome visitors and it’s a great place to fly into. I had a great day out there.
- Denham. My home base. It’s very close to London – just north of Heathrow Airport and there’s a train station within walking distance of the airfield so you can land and be in Central London in 30-45 minutes. Unlike nearby Northolt or Farnborough, it doesn’t charge outrageous landing fees so you sometimes see four or five Pilatus PC-12s lined up by the tower as they ferry in their VIPs. (The runway’s too short for jets, however.)