How did you become interested in aviation?

How did you become interested in aviation? As a young lad I grew up within 2 miles of Leeds Bradford Airport.

At the time my mother worked at the airport and my farther would say "come on, lets go early to pick your mum up and we'll watch the planes".
So we'd head up to the airport and spend an hour watching aircraft land and depart before my mum finished her shift.

During the time my mother worked at LBA the airport was going through a period of rapid expansion, extending the runway and terminal building along with realigning the public roads surrounding the airport.

The airport expansion was formerly opened by the arrival of a Wardair Boeing 747 and a British Airways Boeing 747. As a young lad it was a period of fascination and my interest for the subject grew stronger.

As a teenager I become interested in cycling and photography so the two went hand in hand with my interest with what was happening at the airport. I would spend many weekends cycling to the local vantage points to view the aircraft and take photos.
A very interesting new thread and one that I'll enjoy adding my contribution to.

So, I was brought up in the village of Hale near Altrincham. A few miles down the road was an airport called Ringway that, in the mid-1930s, had replaced Barton airfield as Manchester's airport. In the late 1950s the airport has 3 runways - 06/24, 10/28 and 01/19 although 01/19 was the shortest and seldom used.

Regular airlines were Aer Lingus, Air France, BEA, BOAC, KLM, Sabena on scheduled services and, if my memory serves me right, Morton Air Services who operated to Sandown on the Isle of Wight. Aircraft used tended to be the Airspeed Elizabethan, DC-3 Pioneer and Vickers Viscount for BEA; DC-6, DC-7C and later the Bristol Britannia for BOAC. KLM operated the Viscount to Amsterdam whilst Aer Lingus used DC-3 Dakotas and Visounts to Dublin. Sabena had been using piston aircraft, was it the Convair 440, to Brussels but they saw an opportunity to route one of their Brussels to New York services via Manchester using DC-6B equipment.

Those were the formative years of my interest in civil aviation. Ringway was also a base for Fairy Aviation who handled the Gannet naval aircraft together with work on the De Havilland Venom and later on the GAF Jindivik target drone when it was being modified for use in the UK.

RAF Burtonwood, located just outside Warrington, was a major American base from the 1940s, and in the mid-50s one would head the sound of their WB-29 Superfortresses as they headed East towards Europe.

Little of the airport I grew up with remains and, whilst we have daily flights with A380 and B747 aircraft, the nostalgia of watching an Elizabethan start it's engines with a plume of smoke and the whole tail unit shaking will never be forgotten.


For me it was when i flew to the US for the first time to meet my girlfriend. I'd flown before a few times but not for a while and they never caught my interest like this flight did. It fascinated me on how I got on a Fokker 70 hop to Amsterdam and then jump on a 767 and be on the West coast of the US over 13 hour's later practically from my front door. Still does today even though I've flown from other much bigger and better looking airports my local will always be my favourite.
Well my interest in aviation began in London under the approach to Northolt watching the C118s, T-29, C131 of USAF/USN
and the Connies of Indian AF plus my dad taking me upto LAP ( London Air Port) Heathrow in the days of BEA Argosies
and many other wonderful aircraft( oh I wish I had been a spotter then)
in 1969 we moved up north and ended up in Cheadle Hulme 3 mile final to 24 Manchester and that was the catalyst along with a friend at school to many trips to the airport., in those days you could probably count the foreign aircraft in a day on one hand except for those
exciting weekends with Aviogenex Tu134 and Air Spain with Britannia and DC-8 ( even got to fly on a DC-8 21 of Air Spain which still had
the gold ceiling where first class had been in its days with Eastern.
I`ll save the rest for another time
I was never really interested in aviation when growing up. My passions were football, cricket and later rugby union when I went to a boys' grammar school. We lived in a small cottage in the country and because my parents never had a car we went everywhere by bike, and by bus for longer trips. The bus travel engendered an interest in buses in my pre-teen years.

Bristol Airport had opened in 1957 two miles up the road from our cottage, having been moved from the city airport's former site at Whitchurch because that had become too small - some things never seem to change. I was in my early teens then and remember watching gliders from a gliding club use the former RAF wartime site before it became Bristol's airport. Despite living so close aviation still did not 'grab' me.

In fact, as I grew into adulthood I was more interested in railways and over the next 20 years travelled quite extensively by train and read numerous books on the subject. I was never a 'train spotter' though. I was more interested in the economic aspects (that sort of thing has never been my 'day job') and the civil engineering (again never my day job).

It was probably into the 1970s by which time I was around 30 that I began to take an interest in civil aviation. That was the time when 'ordinary people' began to fly more, mainly for leisure to the Costas of Spain, Majorca and I remember that parts of Italy such as Rimini were also popular sun destinations then.

As our children grew up in the 70s and we as a family began to fly more I began to take an interest in my 'aviation' surroundings. In those days I enjoyed the ambiance of airports as I did main railway stations. I have an enquiring mind and I wanted to know why certain airlines flew from where they did and why they did; how airlines made (or lost) money; the relationship (if any) between a busy airport and the consequent effect on the economy of a region or even a country; how the industry was/is regulated; and so on.

Although I enjoy seeing aircraft in the air I've never been a 'spotter' and registration numbers have never had any appeal for me. In the 70s, 80s, 90s and early 'noughties' I did take quite a lot cine film, later video tape, at airports - usually those we passed through when travelling and also at my nearest one, BRS, which was beginning to grow as the 80s gave way to the 90s. I don't video any more.

I've never regarded my local airport in the way that some support their favourite football team. To me it's a business and, if it's well-run, a very useful facility for an area. I'm not sentimental about it.

So really my interest in the subject came on gradually. The Internet has been a boon for someone like me outside the industry trying to learn as much as I can about it. I've been 'online' for over 20 years. When I started I think about 20% of the UK population had Internet connectivity - it was a mystery to most people; how things have changed. I had AOL dial-up initially which could be hit or miss when trying to get online.

Prior to the Internet most of my aviation information came from books and articles, many from libraries. In my early Internet years there weren't many aviation websites, unlike today. As more and more sites appeared and the Internet grew its knowledge bank, it became easier and easier to improve one's aviation grounding. Through the Internet I've also been very fortunate to have made the acquaintance of many people in the industry from many levels, some face to face, who have been very kind in filling what passes for my brain with all sorts of detail that I would never have gleaned had the Internet never been invented.
My interest started with the viewing deck at BHX from a very early age. I still have old photographs from one visit where an Air Transat A310 and Airtours DC-10 were on the ground at the same time.

Those trips were rare though, most of what I learned about aircraft and airlines came through books, one of which was "Jetliners: 1950's to Today", written by an American TWA pilot in the early 1990s and featuring photography of mostly American airlines. Another book (outdated by the time I got my hands on it) contained a spotter's guide to airline tail colours, which only featured world flag carriers - no leisure airlines or LCCs.

I remember being confused as a child by the fact that almost all the airlines I saw at BHX were different from the ones featured in the books. My parents weren't aviation enthusiasts so it took a while for my younger self to realise that airlines have geographical restrictions. For a while I was desperate to see one of Hughes Airwest's "Banana" DC-9s (featured in the Jetliners book) and didn't know they only flew within America :)
jfy1999 I get you on that re American airlines, I worked in the travel industry for a long time and couldn`t
believe my luck when one day the rep from Jetsave came into our office and asked if anybody would like a weeks
holiday in Toronto for £50 incl hotel and transfers flying with CP Air. I was in the bosses office before the girl
had even closed the door checking my holiday situation, Yes it was free, I was on the phone 1 minute later
and 3 of us were on our way to Toronto on the Saturday, Manchester, Prestwick Toronto on a CP Air DC-8 55
and managed to take a day at the airport seeing all the planes that I had looked at in books
Air Canada DC9, American B727, Algheny DC-9 and Convairs, United B737 200s that turned out to be the start of many trips
to the US in search of the weird and wonderful.
I've just realised that I didn't actually put a reason, or cause, for my interest in aviation - it just seemed to happen, along with train spotting at Hale - on the CLC route to Chester - when the salt hopper freights would come through from Northwich (I believe that's what they were).

Now, as you'll have gathered from my posts, I'm not an anorak but more an enthusiast with a deep interest in the development of my "little local" airport.
For me, the ‘Aviation Bug’ bit at a young age (we all know that once bitten, there is no cure! Treatments are available however. These range from spending an afternoon watching arrivals and departures at your local airport, to going to an airshow or maybe just looking at fellow enthusiast’s photos/videos on F4A).

I can’t recall the exact timeline, but at around five years old I was already ‘Aircraft Mad’.

I was born with a ‘Hole in the Heart’ condition, which was treated and corrected at the wonderful Birmingham Children’s Hospital. I can remember my Dad bringing me a built model of Airfix’s Hawker Hunter in black, complete with drop tanks and rockets whilst I was in hospital.

I can also recall getting a built Airfix Concorde in BOAC markings for Christmas when I was around 5 or 6 years old.

My main memory however, is my first flight. Again aged around 6, we flew to Gerona (LGW – GRO. Yes, back then we had to travel from Walsall to LGW to get a flight), on a BEA Airtours Comet 4B.

My Dad must have seen my interest in aviation (he himself had been a trainspotter back in the wonderful days of steam) and would often take me to BHX on a Sunday afternoon, after lunch. Occasionally we would go to MAN or even LTN (I remember seeing the Courtline Tristars there) .

By the time I was 10, me and my cousin would travel to BHX on either a Saturday or during school holidays. This was quite a journey of around 2 hours (bus, train and another bus). Usually, we would make the return journey ourselves (and that usually included a visit to Beatties model shop above New Street Station - anyone remember that?)

Sometimes however, my Dad would come to collect us in the evening from BHX. I can remember one occasion, when he found us he had a book in hand for both myself and my cousin. It was a copy of the 1974 edition of ‘Civil Aircraft Markings’. On opening it, I hadn’t a clue what all the listings were. Once my Dad had explained (he was familiar with the format from his trainspotting days), I was hooked. I spent many years ‘plane spotting’, but eventually this gave way to photography. I still record the ‘reg’ of any aircraft I fly on.

Later, my Dad would take me and friends to LHR for the day or to the Farnborough Air Show.

I also joined the ATC (425 SQN, Aldridge West Midlands), where I got to fly in a motor glider, do aerobatics in a DHC Chipmunk and spend a week on camp at RAF Wildenrath, Germany.

I can remember flight deck visits on a Laker Airways DC-10 (G-AZZD), as well as a BA Viscount, BA One-Eleven, Dan-Air One-Eleven and an Air New Zealand B747-400, before the 911 events put a stop to all of that.

Talking of 911, I was in the air (flying STN – NYO) as the events unfolded, flying for business for the company that I worked for. We were unaware at the time, but had a one hour coach ride to our hotel. I was sat at the front of the coach and the driver had the radio on (in Swedish). I kept hearing references to ‘New York’, 'Washington' and the 'Pentagon'. I assumed he was listening to some financial report. Only when he dropped us off at the hotel did he say that we should watch the news. We were all in the hotel lobby for around 2 hours before we checked in and went to our rooms. The flight back (around 5 days later) was very nerve racking.

I know that my interest in aviation will never fade, and am delighted that I can share my thoughts, photos and ask questions with like-minded enthusiasts on the wonderful F4A forum.

Below, is a photo of a very young Kev, de-planing after his very first flight on a BEA Airtours DH Comet 4B.

Comet 4B.jpg

My interest in aviation started in the 1950's when at grammar school. I wanted to join the RAF and learn to fly. I was in the Air Cadets and my first flight was in an old Avro Anson whilst on camp at RAF Waddington. Some of the guys managed to get a flight to Gibraltar on a Vulcan Bomber. We were billeted in a rickety old hut near the end of the runway and when a Vulcan wound the engines up prior to take off the place shook. I was hooked. I never made it to the RAF but my cousin joined the RAF at Cranwell.
My aunt and uncle lived in Barry and their house gave a good view of aircraft going into CWL. This was in the days of Cambrian Airways De Haviland Herons and Doves and also their Dragon Rapide. It was quite an event when they got their DC3's. Since then, I have followed the ups and downs of the many airlines that have flown from both sides of the Severn .
I have never been a spotter but have been interested in Aircraft and Airlines. I have flown many times, the first commercial flight was from Dublin to Cardiff on an Aer Lingus Viscount. The flight was via BRS and we had to disembark at BRS to go through customs. How times change.


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