Camberley & District Probus Club

Farnborough Airport Tours, 18 October & 1 November 2016

These two outings really were crackers. Firstly we learned the history of how the Ministry of Defence decided to abandon the long-established base of experimental military flying and move to Boscombe Down – followed by the bidding process, then the initial modifications and then the environmental hoops that TAG had to jump through, to establish a civil aviation base under CAA rules – without scheduled airline services, freight and helicopters.  Fascinating, and very expensive for TAG.

Quality and excellence everywhere – Immaculate private and charter aircraft, immaculate hangars, but comparatively few aircraft movements.  and the ridiculously small number of passengers in each.  But high quality service for the passengers too–a car (not coach), out to the plane.  And with an average of 2 ½ passengers per plane, no queues at customs.  No question of economy – high purchase cost of the executive jets, and parked in the hangars at £500 a day and hardly used.

Our coach took us round the perimeter track, and with few aircraft movements, the Control Tower switched on the runway lights, and we drove up the centre of the runway, never reaching take-off speed  but still very exciting.

The Control Tower was another delight – approach control radars at the base and Field controllers at the top.  What a wonderful 360 degree view in all directions both around the whole airfield – and luckily, our day was clear and all the local topographical highlights were easily visible.

Every aspect of the field, its operation, the aircraft types, the environmental operations, the TAG investments and approach to quality , were described by Tony , who was not only word-perfect for 3 hours, but also extremely knowledgeable after 50 years working at Farnborough and that made the visit all the more enjoyable.

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