Sleap Aerodrome, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

ICAO Code – EGCV

Elevation – 275ft amsl

A/G Radio – 122.450 – Call sign = Sleap Radio

Runways 2 Asphalt

Navigation Aids on aerodrome – None

Fuel – AVGAS 100LL, UL91 and Jet A1

Telephone Number (For PPR) – 01939 232882

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

Sleap (pronounced “Slape”) is a a former Royal Air Force airfield, which was opened in April 1943, and was utilised primarily by RAF advanced flying training units. Initially it was the base for Number 81 Operational Training Unit RAF (OTU)  within Number 93 Group of RAF Bomber Command and equipped with Armstrong Whitley Bomber Aircraft.

Whitleys and HorsasFrom 1 January 1944 Sleap was assigned to the RAF’s No.38 Group, Airborne Forces. 81 OTU’s Whitleys’ towed heavy troop-carrying gliders, known as Horsas, on training missions and the Horsas made practice formation landings at Sleap to simulate the attacks to come on German-occupied territory. In November 1944 Vickers Wellingtons replaced the Whitleys and by January 1945 the strength was 51 aircraft which were used to train Transport Command air crews. The RAF finally released Sleap in 1964, but the location is still used as a relief airfield by nearby RAF Shawbury for helicopter training.

The Shropshire Aero Club members’ bar (also a cafe open to the public and named the Lock Lounge) at Sleap is named after Flight Lieutenant Eric Lock, the World War II Battle of Britain pilot who was the highest scoring British-born pilot with sixteen and a half victories during the epic battle. There is also the Wartime Aircraft Recovery Group museum which is open at weekends and as advised by the Aerodrome website. Shropshire Aero Club has been resident at the Aerodrome since 1955.

Location and amenities

a3The Aerodrome is located within a stunning rural location and when you visit, you will notice a fantastic view of the airfield is offered, particularly from the Lock Lounge Cafe and Restaurant on the upper floor of of the former World War II control tower. On a clear day, there are some fabulous views of the Welsh mountains beyond. As mentioned above, the Airfield is just as popular with non-aviators who enjoy the fine food and sit on the balcony, watching the world go by. The Cafe is open every day from 0900 to 1700 and has a varied menu of freshly prepared food, including the much talked about “Flying Start” breakfast!

Sleap Aerodrome has an on-site museum of the Wartime Aircraft Recovery Group. The museum is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00am to 5:00pm and admission is free to all visitors. The local Paranormal Group will be spending the night in the museum in September 2016, should this intriguing visit prompt you to investigate further?

Sleap Aerodrome is located within the north west Shawbury MATZ with part of it’s own ATZ within the MATZ and Sleap offers immediate access to unrestricted airspace. On weekdays a seemless service is provided by RAF Shawbury to pilots arriving and departing Sleap Aerodrome.

a1The Aerodrome is alive with training flights and currently covers Part-FCL PPL, IMC and Night Trainig / Revalidation, along with Aerobatics Training. You may also see some unusual types and military helicopters from RAF Shawbury who also use the airfield.

Free Wi-Fi is provided within the club house and cafe and there is also a flight planning room.

Pilot Information

Sleap Aero Club maintains a comprehensive website that is well worth a visit for any pilot intending to visit, as the answer to any question you may have is likely to be contained within its pages. There is also an active forum within its pages for all pilot and aviation related topics.

Sleap has recently undergone a review and update of procedures due to the aerobatic activities that take place at the airfield. New procedures have been added for weekends, when aerobatics and display practice is ongoing, the majority of which takes place between 1200 and 1400, when most visiting pilots are enjoying lunch and looking around the museum. The website details these procedures and they are included in your telephone PPR brief as standard.

Flying in

Sleap Airfield is located 10nm North of Shrewsbury and is within RAF Shawbury MATZ and AIAA. For this reason, PPR is essential and during the week and inbound traffic should contact Shawbury Zone on 133.150 and obtain a MATZ clearance. The MATZ is generally not in operation at a weekend, when a Basic Service from London FIS is more likely to be utilised.

a2Standard overhead joins at 2000′ on the QFE are in place at the airfield and circuit height is 1000′ QFE. Noise abatement procedures are in place and are detailed on the website and in your usual airfield guides for planning. The website also features the CAA guide to Standard Overhead Joins, should anyone require a refresher!

The airfield has a number of aerobatic pilots who can at times be practising aerobatics above the airfield, often to the West of runway 23/05 and typically (but not limited to) not below 1,000ft (QFE). This will be organised with the tower to fit in with any other traffic. If aerobatics activities are taking place, then a downwind join is preferred and you will be advised of this in your PPR briefing.

Airbox RunwayHD makes light work of planning and is highly recommended.

Going forward

The future is looking bright for Sleap Aerodrome with many general maintenance activities planned.

The main runway R23 / R05 is shortly to undergo treatment to rejuvenate its asphalt surface and additional hangars are planned.

Sleap Aerodrome welcomes the public to the airfield and such has a large amount of support from non-aviators as well as aviators. There is the fantastic Lock lounge Cafe within the main building, however this is un-extendable due to it’s upper floor location and due to demand by all that utilise Sleap, an investment in a food trailer has been added close to the picnic area, to assist in catering for the arriving visitors who come to use the facilities at Sleap and watch the world go by. The Lock Lounge maintains it’s own website and is worthy of viewing before you fly in, as they have specials, meals for night flyers and a gluten free menu.

In Summary

Sleap is an historic and vibrant airfield that has improvements planned in the near future. Everyone at Sleap is warm and friendly and the airfield is busy with both aviators and non-aviators alike, so they are doing many things right.

a5Sleap is an ideal mid-point for longer flights across the region and integrates well with the busy RAF Shawbury. There are many activities at the airfield and it is a relaxing venue for a visiting pilot to refresh themselves before embarking on the next leg of their journey.

 

If you haven’t yet visited Sleap, then now is the time, as you are missing out and writing EGCV in your logbook is a trip that you will remember. I would urge caution however – If you plan to indulge in the “Flying Start” breakfast, then eat a light meal the night before….

Checklist

Before visiting

  1. Speak with an on duty Radio Operator and obtain PPR
  2. Check the airport website and NOTAM’s for the surrounding area.
  3. Enjoy your flights and visit to this fantastic and friendly GA facility

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