Farnborough is the oldest active airfield in the UK and probably most famous as the home of the bi-annual SBAC Airshow. The field has a long history in aviation experimenting and development, but nowadays plays a new role as a centre of business aviation. A new futuristic terminal and control tower dominate the area around the main aprons. TAG Aviation operates the airport and the RAE moved most of its activity to Boscombe Down. QinetiQ maintains a presence here though, as well as BAE Systems.
Noise abatement is a big issue for Farnborough nowadays. Operating hours are from 7am until 10pm (8am - 8pm during weekends and bank holidays) and permission has to be obtained to operate anything larger than a bizjet from here. No aircraft larger than a B737-800 are allowed at all. Obviously, none of this applies during the airshow period.
Note: during the air show the views around the field are restricted. The road behind the Aviator Hotel (spot 3) is closed for cars. General access to the Industrial Park on the north side (on the Costco side) is restricted to "those on authorised business only".
The once quite extensive runway and apron pattern has been increasingly confined by built-up areas. Only the main runway remains usable, with considerably displaced landing thresholds, and many of the remote aprons and taxiways are now closed to aircraft. The perimeter is mostly lined with business areas (restricted access) and forest, leaving little opportunity for the enthusiast to enjoy the operations.
This is possibly the only spot to watch and even photograph landing and departing aircraft in a convenient way. The spot is easily found by following Fleet Road after exiting the A325. Cars can be parked across the bridge along the canal. From here, the West 1 Apron can be seen in the distance, being the smaller of the two central aprons. It is possible to walk along the fence, parallel to the runway, to change your angle of view.
A lot of new office buildings have been erected at the south side of Farnborough. This means better opportunities to spot what is on the other side at TAG Aviation, at different angles than from spot 3 or 4. Do not forget to try the side roads of Aerospace Boulevard for a better view. The office car parks can be used for a quick stop & go to read what you need. You will probably not be allowed to stay all day.
This spot is at the parking lot of the new Aviator Hotel & Restaurant, just north of the Dairy Gate crash gate, which itself is situated some 450m south of the FAST museum. It is useful for logging planes on the distant main ramp (North Apron), although summer heat haze can be a problem. Note that the hotel staff and security do not like spotters, so stay away from the hotel as much as possible.
The Farnborough Air Sciences Museum, maintained by FAST, preserves part of the airfield's rich past and has several aircraft on display.
From the dead end road that runs down the side of the Swan pub you can see part of the ramp. Photos can be had of aircraft landing on 24 but it is difficult to get decent shots.
The view from spot 3 towards the main apron and hangars. Fence enclosing the current active part of the airfield in the foreground. (John Leadbetter)
|Aircrew to Fire Brigade
|Corporate Jet Management
|Executive Jet Charter
|International Jet Club
|Manhattan Jet Charter
|TAG Aviation UK
|TAG Farnborough Airport
|Farnborough Air Sciences Trust
|Museum page on the FAST website
|Farnborough International Airshow
|EGLF Farnborough-Aviation-Group FAB
|Enthusiasts website with movements and more
|Another Farnborough message board
|Enthusiast website with movements, photos, detailed viewing descriptions, etc.
|Barkston Heath (RAF)
|Boscombe Down (QinetiQ)
|Bristol - Lulsgate
|Brize Norton (RAF)
|Durham Tees Valley (Teesside)
|Glasgow - Prestwick
|Glasgow Intl (Abbotsinch)
|London - City
|London - Gatwick
|London - Heathrow
|London - Luton
|London - Stansted
|Southampton - Eastleigh
|St. Mawgan - Newquay Cornwall Airport
|Valley (RAF) - Anglesey
|Wales Low Flying Area 7