Caernarfon Airport

ICAO Code – EGCK

Elevation – 14Ft amsl

AFIS – 122.250 (A/G)– Call sign – Caernarfon Radio

Runways – 2 (02/20 is unlicensed and not available to visiting aircraft)

Navigation Aids on aerodrome – NDB “CAE” 320.0

Fuel – AVGAS 100LL and Jet A1

Telephone Number (For PPR) – 01286 830800

Operating hours, hangarage, parking, landing fees and landing cards – Please see their website.

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Caernarfon Airport offers a visiting pilot some of the most spectacular approach and departure scenery in the UK. Flying over the blue and green waters off the Welsh coastline or when transiting the Menai Straights below 1500’ on the Holyhead QNH, you would be forgiven for thinking you were over the Aegean Sea. Anglesey is even more stunning from above than it is when you are on the ground. Final approach to Runway 07 will see you descending over the clear blue sea, with a sprawling beach and asphalt runway on the nose. Depending on the prevailing wind and cloud base, you may be able to climb to 5000’ overhead the airport and fly over the top of Mount Snowden and the surrounding hills.

If there is a more picturesque GA airport in the UK, I have yet to find it. Couple this with seamless service from RAF Valley who will handle you in their AIAA (Area of Intense Aerial Activity) from Colwyn Bay in North Wales to Aberystwyth in the south, before handing you across to the ever friendly and professional Caernarfon radio tower.

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If you are flying with a passenger who appreciates fine scenery and owns a camera, I can’t think of a more fitting airport to go and explore. Caernarfon airport is a truly great day out for pilots, passengers and families and they look forward to your visit.

Location and amenities

Caernarfon Airport is located in the heart of Snowdonia and was originally designated as RAF Llandwrog when it opened in 1941. The airfield was primarily used for training gunners, radio operators and in later years was home to the RAF Mountain Rescue.

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Nestled on the coast of the West Wales mainland and at the south-west end of the Menai Straights, glorious views of Anglesey will present themselves on approach and departure. Situated at the foot of Mount Snowden, there is an option on departure to climb in the overhead to 5000’ and transit across the top of Snowden. I would recommend speaking with a flight instructor prior to departure, as a prevailing Easterly wind can cause turbulence from the mountains and would not be recommended, but they can advise you accordingly. I have overflow Snowden on departure and will include some photographs in the gallery below, as words cannot accurately explain the beauty of this part of the world.

Caernarfon Airport has an excellent cafe with views overlooking the airfield. Fine, fresh home cooked food and drink at reasonable prices and it’s always busy with visiting pilots refreshing and non-aviation visitors alike. There is an on-site aviation museum called Caernarfon Airport Airworld Aviation Musuem that was established in 1988 and the museum has its own website, along with museum shop. There are open cockpit displays where you can experience taking a seat in real vintage aircraft, schools and group visits are welcome. The website for the museum is excellent and has a really informative piece on the history of RAF Llandwrog which begins with the surrounding land being chosen as a site for the airfield in 1940. It is well worth a read and of course, a personal visit! Open 7 days a week, with very reasonable entry fees, I would strongly suggest that you leave enough time for a visit whilst you are there.

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If flying in during the summer months, then consider taking a picnic with you. Runway 07 and 02 thresholds practically meet the beach. You can land, walk and set up lunch almost at the threshold, on the golden sand of Caernarfon Bay and watch the aeroplanes landing and departing. Again, a pretty unique feature of this unique airport!

Pilot Information

Caernarfon has two asphalt runways, although 02/20 is unlicensed and not available to visiting aircraft, due to two 161ft wind turbines on the airfield.

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Runway 07/25 is 932 metres long and is well maintained asphalt. Displaced thresholds at either end mean that TORA and LDA vary and are detailed on the relevant plate and comprehensive website. It is also worth noting that high visibility vests are mandatory airside and that noise abatement procedures do apply. There are some taxi lane restrictions, but again, all are detailed within the website and relevant guides, where you would expect them to be. Maintenance and hangarage are available.

Caernarfon operates a professional Air to Ground service from its recently built and fully functional Tower and they operate on 122.250.

Flying in

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Caernarfon is close to RAF Valley and RAF Mona, with the Valley AIAA operating from the former on 125.225 and who will be happy to provide you with the appropriate service, Monday to Friday. At weekends, it is advisable to obtain a basic service from London FIS on 124.750. Mona has an active flying school that operates outside of the hours of the RAF, so although it may not be possible to visit the airfield mid week, depending on the season you are flying, you may be able to visit at a weekend.

RAF Valley operate both the LARS and MATZ and there is high Intensity fixed wing flight training that operates Monday to Friday. You will almost certainly speak with them inbound to Caernarfon and the station name “Valley Radar” is used. In my experience, inbound from North Wales, you can usually make two-way contact from somewhere between Rhyl and Colwyn Bay and I utilise Hawarden Radar for a basic radar service until around this area.

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If you intend to transit the Menai Straights (and I recommend that you do), you will need to be below 1500’ on the Holyhead QNH before Bangor as you travel south-west inbound to Caernarfon. It can be a busy piece of airspace, as everyone in that area will be doing the same, so and you will likely see some interesting types. I passed a Spitfire in the Straights and was given a wing wave. I could hear the sound of the Merlin engine over my ENR headset and it was amazing. I would strongly recommend following the North Wales coast from Rhyl for some spectacular scenery as you track the A55 and maybe an orbit of Great Ormes Head?, Puffin Island and Red Wharf Bay, being mindful of the Mona MATZ.

You can also approach Caernarfon from the East, across the Welsh Mountains and Snowden, before a descent to the Overhead join, which incidentally, is 1300’ at Caernarfon, with a published circuit height of 800’ both on the QFE. My personal preference is to depart to the east, having climbed to 5000’ in the overhead. I prefer the advice of a flight instructor from Caernarfon who has already been aloft over the mountains and also a quick call to RAF Valley who will advise you if they have fast jet training ongoing.

An approach from the south has no special procedures to contend with and having landed at Llanbedr Airfield and overflown Caernarfon on my return, can attest to it being just as stunning scenery whichever way you approach.

Going forward

The future of Caernarfon Airport and the industry that it supports is positive. A new fuel reception area has been completed, along with a new control tower that is fully functional and really looks the part. The new Tower would not look out of place at the Reno air races! The Bristow Search and Rescue base is a state of the art complex and also the West Wales Air Ambulance operates from Caernarfon. There has been a period of hanger renovation and indeed, the whole airfield has been spruced up. All of this contributes to it being such a great place to work, visit and fly to.

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In Summary

Unrivalled scenery, relaxed atmosphere, captivating museum, great food and pleasant people make Caernarfon Airport an essential airfield to visit, if it is still on your list of places to fly. In these days where airfields are closing at an alarming rate, Caernarfon bucks the trend and is on the up. Long may this continue and it’s time for you to start your fight planning….

Checklist

Before visiting:

  1. Check the website
  2. Careful consideration to NOTAM due to location within the Valley LARS
  3. Speak with an on duty FISO re Menai Straights transit
  4. Arrange PPR
  5. Make sure your camera has some batteries and a decent memory card.
  6. Spare batteries and memory card….

For videos showing VRP’s, arrivals and departures to and from Caernarfon Airport, a selection are available on the author’s YouTube channel.