Two very special aircraft took centre stage as Bristol Airport celebrated 60 years of flying from its current site today. Almost six decades to the day since the Duchess of Kent officially opened the Airport in May 1957, a Douglas DC-3 – a mainstay of commercial airline fleets in the Fifties – returned to Bristol for the first time since making its final passenger flights nine years ago.
The Dakota lined up next to its modern-day equivalent – an Airbus A319 – which easyJet has named Spirit of Bristol to mark the Airport’s anniversary.
Today Bristol Airport is flying high, with more than 8 million passengers expected to pass through the terminal during 2017 but back in 1957 the world was very different place. The airline industry as we know it today was still in its infancy and just 33,000 people used the Airport in its first year of operation – similar to a busy 24 hours today!
The origins of Bristol Airport can be traced back to the city’s early aviation pioneers, forming out of a flying club at Filton funded by public subscription before moving to a site at Whitchurch to the south of the city. Following the end of the Second World War, a ten year campaign began to secure a new site for a municipal airport, finally settling on the former RAF base at Lulsgate.
Bristol Airport is now England’s third largest regional airport, with direct flights to more than 120 destinations in 30 different countries. Having invested more than £160 million in new infrastructure and facilities since 2010, the Airport is well positioned to serve passengers across the South West of the UK, as providing a gateway to the region for international visitors.