General notes

  • EGAD runways were redesignated in August 2016. The new designations are used in the text but the OSM map has not refreshed as of 2016-08-10.
  • Due to distance and visual obstructions photography from the Clubhouse area is not recommended if you are interested in airborne aircraft.
  • Airfield radio on frequency 128.300 MHz AM.
  • Airfield is easily accessible from the town by foot, bicycle and car. The only hindrance to acces on foot is crossing the Portaferry Road which is wide and busy at peak hours.
  • The closest bus stop is 'Portaferry Road Bus Garage' at the roundabout junction between the Castlebawn and Portaferry roads, services 7 and 9.

AIRCRAFT IN FLIGHT

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Runways 03 / 21

This is the predominant axis, being used for more than 80% of movements. Of the two runways 21 is in turn the most common due to the prevailing NW wind.

The fields to the south-west of the airfield are private agricultural land and are not accessible except with permission.

Recommended locations

Site 1, approximately 800 metres westwards along the tide bank path and close to the threshold of the 33 runway. The path is compressed grit and stone suitable for walking and off-road bicycle tyres. As you proceed to this location you will pass the tail-boom of a Miles Aerovan planted on top of a WW2-era concrete pillbox.

  • Provides raised north-facing side-views of aircraft arriving or departing on 03 / 21, respectively.
  • Good but distant view of the apron area.
  • Lens > 500mm required for most GA-sized aircraft.
  • Not suitable after 15:00 due to position of the Sun.
  • Small free public car park at the eastern Portaferry Road end of the tide bank.

Site 2, in the grounds of the public Londonderry Park. Grit and tarmac paths with extensive grass areas, well drained. This area is just below sea level and requires looking-up. For privacy reasons it is recommended that photography be restricted to the southern and western areas, away from the play-park.

  • Provides side / underside views of aircraft departing and arriving on 03 / 21, respectively.
  • Depending upon exact location in the park aircraft can pass directly overhead at low altitude.
  • Lens > 150mm depending upon location.
  • Suitable throughout the day.
  • Public toilets in the main building.
  • Public car-parking but no bicycle racks, though there are plenty of fences.

Site 2B is a small area of wasteground across the Portaferry Road from the park, beside an open-air car washing / valeting area.

  • Provides last-moment northwards views of aircraft landing on runway 21 but there are several poles and cables in the area.
  • Lens > 150mm.

Site 3, a layby on the south side of the main road opposite the Tesco Extra store. A field lies between this location and the airfield boundary fence and but is private land and is occupied by horses at several times of the year, which is unfortunate as it possesses a mound which would provide excellent elevation. I am still trying to contact the land-owner about possible access.

  • Provides south-facing side views of of aircraft departing or arriving on 03 / 21, respectively.
  • No view of apron or runway movements due to mound and airfield fence.
  • Lens > 500mm required for most GA-sized aircraft.
  • An alternative to Site 1 for afternoon / evening views when the Sun will lie behind.
  • Limited car-parking in the layby but easily accessible on foot from the Tesco store.
  • Restaurant and customer toilet in the Tesco Store. OK, just pretend that you're a customer.

Runways 15 / 33

Less commonly-used but provides stunning views from locations Site 1 and Site 4. Heliwest is a helicopter landing area cut in the grass just north of Site 1 and often used for hovering practice.

Site 1, as for 03 / 21 but aircraft pass directly overhead, per the cautionary signs emplaced here by the Flying Club.

  • Lens - anything at all!
  • By moving farther westwards along the tide bank one can overcome the interference from the afternoon Sun.

Site 4 Footpath near the Castlebawn Roundabout. Right on the threshold of runway 15, separated only by the airfield fence and identified by the red-and-white striped streetlamp poles with red beacons on their tops. Tail-on touch-down or head-on lift-off shots possible southwards through fence, or northwards for aircraft on approach to runway 15.

  • No parking for cars at this location.

Site 5, entrace to the Woodgate site from the Comber Road. Might be suitable for aircraft departing from runway 33 but I don't personally use this site since the main road is narrow and busy and not friendly to cyclists.

  • Lens probably > 300mm

Helicopter landing areas

Helieast is north of the main fuel bowsers at the apron, views from the Clubhouse are obstructed by the bowsers and the best views are through the fence on the entrance road to the Clubhouse site, requiring lens ~ 300mm.

Heliwest is cut into the grass just north of Site 1 and is frequently used for hovering practice. Excellent views from Site 1 with lenses > 300mm.