Well, this year certainly has been one full of surprises for Bristol Airport Spotting. I would sum it up as “successful” year with lots of great news being announced, although some news was not so great too. I certainly has been one of the best years for BAS since it began!
In early 2016 there was not a huge amount of activity regarding rares and new routes. The winter charters consisting of Jet2, Enter Air and Titan Airways were slowly dwindling off. Up until the end of March it looked as if the year didn’t have much exciting in store, apart from 1 new airline, WOW Air, starting in May – we’ll come on to this later.
In April our hopes soon picked up as we received news of the Thomson Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner which would be visiting Bristol Airport on the 19th. Myself and Simon were further excited as we were offered by Bristol Airport to go air side for the arrival – it was now clear BRS were not taking the arrival lightly and it soon came to light that it would be more of an event than just witnessing the arrival! On the morning of the 19th it was a cloudy and miserable day but at exactly 11:20 the main gear of the Dreamliner touched Bristol Airport’s runway 27 for the very first time. After a short period of the ground workers making sure the steps were the correct height, BAS was allowed to go inside the aircraft to photograph it, including the cockpit, along with various other media crew.
Could 2016 get any better for BRS and BAS? Surely not 2 very special arrivals in 5 days of each other? Well that was the case! On the morning of the 24th of April, many spotters headed to Winters Lane to catch the arrival of a French Air Force Airbus A310 – it was truly a spectacular sight. So by early summer a lot had happened for BAS already. As a spotter I was quite chuffed with how it had gone to far and wasn’t going to be disappointing if nothing else unusual came in.
In May Bristol Airport Spotting launched the new Facebook group for spotters. This was done to allow members to more easily communicate with each other and bring more of a community feel to the Bristol Airport Spotters. In under 24 hours we had already accumulated over 100 members – a tremendous success which passed myself and Simon’s expectations by miles.
May also brought the first arrival of WOW Air to Bristol Airport.On Friday the 13th May at 11:10, the first arrival was TF-BRO from KEF. BAS was again grateful to the team at Bristol Airport for inviting us air side for the inaugural flight. Simon attended and I sadly had to turn down the offer as I had to be at school.The flight is still in operation today on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, however it is currently unknown if WOW Air are returning to Bristol Airport in summer 2017.
Freebird also commenced a weekly Friday evening service to Bristol Airport in May, this is believed to have been charted in by a holiday company. The flight continued to operate throughout the summer on an Airbus A320 aircraft.
June now so the temperature was starting to pick up which brought out more and more spotters, combined with longer days allowed for some great spotting. BRS and Aer Lingus celebrated 80 years of the Dublin to Bristol route and flew in a vintage aircraft to celebrate. Simon from BAS was allowed to be on board one of the special flights which took passengers over the original Bristol Whitchurch Airport.
Little did us spotters know that a suprise was in store for us – BH Air flew in the Airbus A330 on the Burgas summer charter! This was listed as an A320 on the mayfly and so we were delighted when we found out it had come in. 2 weeks later, it was operated again, and spotters were out in full to catch its early Saturday morning arrival and departure. For someone who has not been a spotter for as long as most of the members it was a real treat to finally catch a Airbus A330 at Bristol. It is believed the last time a Airbus A330 came to Bristol was in 2006.
So to recap, that was now 3 unusual aircraft types this year: 787, A310 and A330!
Neos and CityJet also joined in the summer charter club, operating a B737-800 and Avro RJ85 into Bristol. BRS’s summer charter operation was now in full swing with Freebird, BH Air, Neos and CityJet.
Further on into July both myself and Simon were outside the country (on separate trips of course!). We’d like to thank SWAP owner and good friend Gary Morris for being a temporary admin on the BAS Facebook group during this time.
Soon enough it was September and that only meant one thing – the Aviation Fair was not fair away! Preparations had been well underway and we couldn’t wait to get it started. The day of the 18th came and what a busy day it was. Myself, Simon and many others who had volunteered to help us set up were at Bristol Airport on a cold morning at am, setting up. The aviation fair turned out to be a huge success with over 800 people attending – bypassing the previous years numbers massively. The day also showed the arrival of a Danish Air Transport ATR. Thank you to all of the exhibitors and those who helped out – the fair could not have happened without your help!
We look forward to seeing everyone at the 2017 Aviation Fair, details of this will be announced in the upcoming months.
Most of the year had passed by now and we were all looking forward to the winter charter season. However none of the BAS team or our fellow enthusiasts were prepared for the news we would receive on the 3rd of October.
Martyn East, a BAS Admin and well known Bristol Airport enthusiast, had sadly passed away in hospital the previous night. We were all devastated at the news. Martyn’s knowledge of aviation was incredible and always had a new story to tell each time you saw him.
And with that now it brings this review into the past few weeks. Winter charters have begun, these include Jet2, Enter Air, Small Planet, Austrian and Titan Airways.
Bristol Airport Spotting would like to thank the team at Bristol Airport and in particular Jacqui Mills for their help and organisation of the various air side visits and the Aviation Fair!