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Manchester visit included Concorde

by Ian Homer. Posted to category: General

and so much more at RVP

Richard Clarke reports on a visit to Manchester Airport’s Runway Visitor Park (RVP), where he re-acquainted himself with Concorde G-BOAC, after witnessing her last flight to the airport in 2003 as she, with the rest of the Concorde fleet, retired from service.


Grey skies and rain greeted the visitors from Vulcan to the Sky as they arrived at The Runway Visitor Park at Manchester Airport - a phenomenon we had not seen in the south of the country for many weeks! The visit bought back some nostalgic memories for me because I was lucky enough to be at the Airport in November 2003 when Concorde-BOAC arrived having completed her final flight in the colours and employ of British Airways. The objective then was that she would become a major attraction in an expanded visitor centre and one which has now certainly come to fruition.

Luckily, the weather did brighten up in parts. 

One of the big attractions to visitors is the raised viewing area, which is adjacent to the main taxiway and therefore provides a panoramic view of the Airport, affording the opportunity to have an excellent view of aircraft departing and arriving, of which there were many with a huge array of different airlines from around the world on display. The highlight of this was the chance to see the incredible Emirates A380 arriving and departing. When this huge aircraft took off she seemed to hang in the sky before disappearing through the low cloud.

The Visitor Park has changed and expanded considerably in the ensuing years and made for a very impressive sight with the Concorde Exhibition Hall being the centrepiece of the attraction. The Park houses a striking collection of aircraft and we were to be given a VIP tour of each one of them with the culmination being the opportunity to board Concorde. The tour started with the British Airways Trident, which included a tour of the flightdeck and as this had not been visited by members of the public before it was a real honour to be the first party to do this. The aircraft was used extensively by British European Airways on a variety of routes to the European mainland before it was merged with BOAC to form British Airways.

The next aircraft was a complete contrast; the ex RAF Nimrod XV231, which had been flown in from RAF Lossiemouth and had served as Maritime Reconaisance aircraft during her years of military service. The aircraft had a highly impressive record of both hunting down Soviet Submarines to the North of the UK and for their ability to carry out missions which required long endurance. The aircraft has been impressively maintained in exactly the same way that she would have appeared in RAF service, with a wide array of radar and other electronic devices in place which enabled her to carry out her vital role.

The external tour of the Park concluded with a visit to the cockpit and forward section of the DC10, which had been impressively converted into a classroom setting with presentation facilities and now attracts regular visits from schools as a part of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) programme which the Park operates.

The highlight of the tour then arrived with the chance to see Concorde at close quarters in her highly impressive Exhibition Hall. As we entered the facility it was breathtaking to see the aircraft standing in splendid isolation high above us still looking futuristic and as though she had just arrived from the production line with the beautiful clean lines of the fuselage and wings a fitting tribute to this. 

It was a real privilege to be able to sit in the plush leather seats in the main passenger cabin and to see the live 'Mach meter' depicting the height of the aircraft and her acceleration to twice the speed of sound.

Then came the opportunity to visit the flightdeck, and the chance to sit in the left hand seat usually occupied by the Captain of the aircraft, which must have been an ambition shared by many people and now available to visitors to the Park. As you would expect it was quite compact by comparison with the other aircraft in the collection but this of course is the consequence of the design requirements for a sleek fuselage to enable supersonic flight.

This was a highly enjoyable and informative visit with the time passing by extremely quickly. John Hepple and the team of visitor guides were highly knowledgeable with many interesting and humorous anecdotes and an obvious pride in the aircraft that they were presenting to us. Many thanks to all of them for the hospitality that was extended to us and we certainly intend to visit the Park again in the future.



We hold many aviation and engineering related visits and events throughout the year
- all over the country.
Check our events page here for the latest information and tickets.

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