Friends of Barton Aerodrome Fly-in

Friends of Barton Aerodrome (FoBA) hosted their 2023 fly-in during the first weekend of June. This was the first fly-in after the airport’s rebranding from City Airport Manchester back to the original name of Barton Aerodrome and over 300 movements were made over the course of the Saturday. Considering the noises made on social media regarding the state of general aviation in the UK, it’s clearly strong and many pilots discovered a new airfield while the FoBA volunteers had a brilliant day and social occasion.

FoBA is a community group fully supported by the airport management which provides its members with benefits including airside access, volunteering opportunities, and photoshoots. There are currently over 180 “friends” who are all interested in preserving the airport’s history and sharing their knowledge with others. Barton Aerodrome has an expansive history as the first municipal airport in the United Kingdom. To this day, the control tower built in 1930 is in use and is the oldest control tower still in use in Europe. This, along with other historic landmarks on the site such as the original hangar, make Barton a must-visit if you’re in the area and in need of scratching that aviation itch.

The annual FoBA fly-in is a gathering of visiting aircraft, FoBA members, and interested members of the public. The airport management offered free landings for all visiting aircraft and FoBA volunteers were on hand to marshall them and greet the pilot at the pilot booking point. Throughout the day the visiting aircraft arrived from a varied number of locations from as close as Lymm to as far away as Inverness and Northern Ireland. There was even a notable contingent from Old Warden, the home of the infamous Shuttleworth Collection (I know a certain Merger who would be pleased with that!) Here are some of my favourites from the day.

This duo of Eurofox aircraft arrived and departed together, both aircraft were immaculately kept and had a striking yellow colour scheme.
This Vans RV-8 put many other colour schemes to shame over the day after making the long journey from Inverness (Easterton).
Good things come to those who wait, this Bulldog out of Blackpool had visited Perranporth in Cornwall for a trip, making a stop off at our fly-in to fuel up towards the end of the day. It’s fair to say that the marshallers had some fun guiding this aircraft into place.

A unique part of the FoBA fly-ins is the airport tours, these were held every half hour and took in all three of Barton’s hangars and access to airside areas that are typically out of bounds for the public during normal operations. Some of the tours were also operated by dedicated FoBA tour guides for those who wanted an in-depth history of the airport. The public also got involved by watching some of the departing aircraft, this one drew particular attention as he was on his way back to Inverness (Yes, in an aircraft that small!). It’s great to see the public enjoying aviation and being involved in our fly-in, something we hope to continue in 2024’s fly-in.

No relentless pursuit is complete without the obligatory selfie, this time in the airfield’s “Pemberton” hangar while guiding some of our visitors around.

Unique to the fly-in weekend, FoBA volunteers are given to opportunity to use their marshalling skills to direct aircraft into exactly the right spot. Many pilots don’t get to experience parking with a marshaller often so this is a good experience for them too. Here’s a selection of photos that will be used by FoBA when promoting similar fly-ins to volunteers, the airport, and pilots. 

It was really pleasing to hear that the airport management found our support helpful and didn’t need to be involved in the rather tight parking of 50+ aircraft. I even had the chance to get stuck in with some marshalling towards the end of the day too, it’s fair to say that it’s not as easy as the professionals make it look especially having only worked with a maximum of 9 arrivals previously.

I really enjoyed shooting the fly-in, it was a unique experience because you never know what you’re going to get and you can really get into the thick of it and speak to some interesting people. During this fly-in, I delivered tours around my local airfield that I love to talk about the history of while also speaking to pilots and shooting for my own catalogue. What more could you want? It’s for this reason that I highly encourage people to get involved at their local airfield, you never know what it might lead to in shots, contacts, or opportunities.