It is probably true to say that every day at Barton is different and it is this that makes it so interesting. With the current Covid restrictions not all the activities shown on this page are taking place. We all look forward to when all these are back in place, in the meantime we hope you find this page informative. On the photographs we have included some additional information that we hope you find useful. We have also included the websites for the various organisations mentioned on this pages and you can simply click on the link to go straight to their websites.
Several flying schools are based here and operate a variety of aircraft that you can learn to fly on. These include flex-wings, microlights, two and four seat fixed wing aircraft, gyrocopters and helicopters.
Many of the aircraft movements at Barton are by these flying schools. Each flight would be a different kind of exercise for the student or could be a revalidation flight for a qualified pilot. Exercises undertaken can include flying circuits within the airfield airspace, flying manoeuvres away from the airfield area or even flights to another airport. It should be noted that helicopters on training flights will operate a different circuit to that of other aircraft, this is due to the capability of helicopters to hover whilst in flight and their ability to manoeuvre whilst close to the ground. Below we have listed the based flying schools together with a link to their website.
Flight Academy www.flightacademy.co.uk
LAC Flying School www.lacflyingschool.co.uk
Mainair Flying School www.mainairflyingschool.co.uk
North West Aerobatics www.northwestaerobatics.co.uk
Other than the Flying School aircraft, the based aircraft at Barton are owned and operated by either individuals or a group of people. These range from single seat aircraft through to four seaters and include vintage, modern and homebuilt machines. See our page titled “Interesting Aircraft based at Barton over the Years” which will give you some additional information on some of the different types you might see during a visit.
As with training, the flights undertaken by this group are similar in nature and a pilot will often use a flight to hone their skills.
The fact that the runways at Barton are grass and limited in length it does not prevent visits from certain turbo-prop aircraft that can operate from these runways. These aircraft can seat up to 12 people and would-be bringing executives to meetings in the Manchester area. In addition to fixed wing aircraft there are also several flights undertaken by helicopters that are used for various tasks. These can involve bringing people to the Manchester area, often VIPs or high ranking officials, pleasure flights and surveying electricity line and gas pipelines, in the local area.
Although a civil airport, Barton often sees aircraft from the UK armed forces visiting. The vast majority of these are helicopters and call in for fuel. You will often see the helicopters refuelled with the engines running (and the rotors still turning), this is called a “hot refuel”.
In addition to those mentioned above, Barton sees a wide variety of visiting aircraft. These include training flights from other airports as well as privately owned aircraft. Some may be from local airfields and landing strips as well as from much futher afield, including from overseas.
Both the Police and Ambulance services have helicopters based at Barton. The Air Ambulance have two Eurocopter EC-135s based at the Heliport, whilst the Police also operate an Eurocopter EC-135 from a separate compound close to the heliport.
The Air Ambulances only operate during daylight, but the Police offer a 24/7 service and special lighting is used to guide their helicopter during hours of darkness.
In addition to the aircraft types detailed previously, Barton can also host flights made by hot air balloons (often early in the morning) and airships. On a Sunday morning before the Airport opens it is not unusual to see a vehicle towing and launching para-gliders.
All aircraft require regular maintenance. The extent and frequency of this will depend on the type of aircraft and the certification which will set the requirements. However, most aircraft will have at least a 50-hour check and a more major annual check. Some aircraft certification allows their owners to undertake some of the maintenance but any major work is always independently checked. Prior to every flight you will see the pilot carry out an inspection of the aircraft, this is to check that everything is working correctly and that no damage is evident.
On site there is the Maintenance Hangar, next to the large black hangar, that is operated by Westair who undertake the maintenance of both based aircraft and aircraft from other airfields.
The Airport has no landing lights for the runways so all operations are required to be carried out during hours of daylight. Currently the Airport is operating Tuesday to Sunday between 9.00am and 6.00pm. On Wednesday the hours are extended to 8.00pm or sunset, whichever occurs first.
One of the main tasks undertaken by the Airport is to provide an Air Traffic Information Service to the various aircraft that operating on any given day. This service is proved by Aerodrome Flight Information Service Officers (AFISOs) who operate from the top of the Control Service. This service is different from a major Airport (such as Manchester International, where all the actions are controlled) as the AFISOs purely provide information to the pilots and it is up to the pilots to make their own decisions when airbourne. Movements on the ground are controlled by the AFISOs giving directions over the radio.
Another important part of the Airport Operations is the Rescue and Fire Fighting Service (RFFS) that is based next to the Control Tower. The staff providing this service are professionally trained and operate during the same hours that the airport is open. There are two fully equipped fire fighting vehicles with one active and the other on standby. The RFFS staff also maintain the aerodrome surfaces including grass cutting. You will note that when cutting the grass, using a tractor, the Fire and Rescue vehicle is always in close attendance so that in the case of an emergency there is no delay in being able to respond.
Other Operations on site
When open, the Airport welcomes visitors and to encourage them there are locations on site where food and drink can be purchased. A children’s play area is also available.
The Manchester Aviation Art Society meets once a once at Barton (currently not happening due to Covid 19) and more information can be found by clicking on their website : http://www.mavas.freeola.org/
Another group that normally meet at Barton is the North Western Strut of the Light Aircraft Association (LAA). The LAA promotes and supports people that wish to built their own aircraft and those that operate “orphaned” aircraft, where the company that originally built these is no longer available to support the owners. Locally members of the LAA form groups called Struts. The LAA organise the largest gathering of aircraft in the UK at their annual Rally, which is planned in early September at Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire. Some of the Strut members fly their aircraft from Barton. For more information on the LAA click on http://www.lightaircraftassociation.co.uk/ from this website you can find details of the North Western Strut.
The Airport is also the base for the Barton Model Flying Club, a group of enthusiasts who have created their circular flying zones on the Western perimeter of the aerodrome. They have an international reputation in competitions for control line model flying. You can find out more about this by clicking on to their website : www.mavas.freeola.org/
The Veterans Garage is a group based at Barton in the Office Block adjacent to the original Terminal Building. They are a charity which provides support to ex armed forces personnel and some of their work involves the repair and restoration of the original Airport Terminal building and also the conversion of other buildings to workshops. The Veterans Lounge has refreshment facilities and is a venue for social events. The Veterans Garage also operate the Sopwith Bar and Grill on site (see photo below). For more information click onto their website : www.veteransgarage.co.uk
During the year other events, such as car boot markets, concerts, car and bike meetings can take place and are normally advertised on the Airport Website, which you can access by clicking on : www.cityairportandheliport.com
Visitors are welcomed at Barton Aerodrome / City Airport. There is free car parking (unless an event is taking place) and as mentioned above refreshments are available on site. There is a large public area where you can watch the aircraft movements. The viewing balcony on the Control Tower is currently closed due to the Covid 19 restrictions.
Because of the diversity of the aircraft based and visiting the Airport there are often aviation enthuisasts or photographers visiting, many of these will be members of Friends of Barton Aerodrome. If you are interested in aviation we have listed below some associations and their websites that you may be interested in visiting, again there is a link that you can click in to make it really easy.
LAAS International is a membership society that focus on aircraft spotting. They have an website where you can find information on many different aircraft in service and also those in museums. They offer their membership access to some additional information on their website and also provide a monthly magazine. www.laasdata.com
Air Britain is another membership society that also has a monthly magazine with an optional quarterly magazine that covers all aspects of aviation in depth. On their website they have a section with over six 600,000 photographs of aircraft which you can search by many different aspects. Air Britain also have a group of specialists on various subjects. www.abpic.co.uk
The Aviation Society (TAS) is based at Manchester International Airport and produces a monthly magazine for members that includes details of visiting aircraft for the previous month and provides updates on the Airport operations and operators. They also run the shop at the Runway Visitor Park (RVP) where you can watch the aircraft operating at the Airport. www.tasmanchester.com
Finally, in addition to the above websites that are detailed above, most of their organisations also have Facebook pages and details of these can be found on their websites or you can search for them on Facebook.