Sywell Aerodrome, Northampton

ICAO Code – EGBK

Elevation – 424ft amsl

AFIS – 122.700 – Call sign – Sywell Information (AFIS)

Runways – 4 (1 Concrete and 3 Grass)

Navigation Aids on aerodrome – NDB “NN” 378.5 (on A/D)

Fuel – 100LL, MOGAS, Jet A1

Telephone Number (For PPR) – 01604 644917

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

History

Sywell Aerodrome is the local aerodrome serving the local towns of Northampton, Wellingborough, Kettering and Rushden, as well as wider Northamptonshire. The aerodrome is located 5.8 miles northeast of Northampton and was originally opened in 1928 on the edge of Sywell village and was prepared by members of the newly formed Northamptonshire Aero Club.

During the mid 1930s, as the Royal Air Force rapidly expanded and Sywell played a key role with the establishment of a large flying school by Brooklands Aviation.

During the Second World War, activities at Sywell included repairs to 1,841 Wellington bombers and completion and flight testing of some 260 Lancaster Mk2 four-engined bombers and approximately 2,500 wartime pilots were trained at Sywell.

The aerodrome was also the centre for training ‘Free French’ pilots who had escaped from occupied France.

After the war, basic and reserve RAF training continued, together with the overhaul of RAF Wellington, Mosquito, Dakota, Valetta and Varsity aircraft, all of which were overhauled on the aerodrome site.

By the 1960s Sywell had returned to the quieter role of civilian aerodrome with Club and private flying, although for a few years, passenger services operated.

The aerodrome currently caters for private flying, flight training and corporate flights. There is one fixed-wing flying school, one microlight school and a helicopter school. The 1930s Art Deco hotel has bar and restaurant facilities. Aviation related industries and businesses are also located at this thriving aerodrome.

Location and amenities

Sywell Aerodrome is ideally situated for any visitor wishing to explore Northamptonshire. Kettering is only 7 miles away, Northampton is 6 miles and Wellingborough is 5 miles away. Excellent transport links service these towns and a bus time-table is even provide on the Sywell Aerodrome website.

Sywell simply thrives and offers aviators and non aviator visitors the opportunity to stay on the aerodrome at The Aviatior Hotel. The Aviator Hotel is 1930’s Art Deco and provide in excess of 50 hotel rooms, along with conference facilities. The bar area is the former Officer’s Mess, having been restored to its former glory of those bygone days.

The Aviator Restaurant is open daily,with a wide range of fayre, from a traditional cooked breakfast to delicious main meals. There really is something for everyone to enjoy, all supplemented by a range of fine ale. Full details for both the hotel and restaurant are located within the website, along with menu details.

 

Fixed Wing flight training has been provided on an almost constant basis at Sywell since 1935 and continues today. Fixed wing training is currently offered by 2Excel who maintain theor own website and provide a fabulous clubhouse overlooking the airfield.

Helicopter training is offered by Sloane Helicopters Flying School and they also provide a wide range of courses in their purpose-built facility. Basic training usually takes place on the fleet of Robinson R22 and R44 helicopters before moving onto the larger aircraft in Sloane’s Charter fleet, which includes JetRangers and Agusta A109s.

Microlight Training is provided by Flylight Airsports, one of the largest UK Microlight training providers and offering a choice of flex wing and fixed wing aircraft and providing training from initial flight experience packages to Instructor training and competition preparation.

Irwin Baker at Flylight Airsports offers flight radiotelephony (FRTOL) training and details can be found on his website.

Brooklands Engineering operate a respected and busy facility at Sywell and are an EASA approved Part-145 and PART-M, Sub Parts G and I (CAMO) Maintenance organisation, able to issue or extend Airworthiness Review Certificates (ARC). The offer a pre-purchase inspection survey and are authorised to repair and maintain Cirrus Aircraft, along with an extensive maintenance portfolio, detailed within the pages of their website.

On site is the Sywell Aviation Museum. The museum is a voluntary, non-profit-making organisation which aims to preserve the history of Sywell Aerodrome and Northamptonshire’s rich aviation heritage from the early days of aviation to the Second World War and beyond. It is a must visit attraction not only on the airfield, but also in the region.

Located within the Spitfire Blister is the truly outstanding Air Leasing Ltd. Specialising in vintage aircraft maintenance and restoration of World War II era fighters. The hangar is packed full of aircraft under restoration, from all over the globe. Mother and son team Carolyn and Richard Grace operate, have, quite simply, the best jobs in the aviation industry, as they are able to restore and fly some truly unique and amazing aircraft types. They also fly and display Hawker Sea Fury and numerous marks of Spitfire, to name but a few.

Richard is also one half of the Trig Aerobatic team, flying Pitts Special S-1D Biplanes with team mate Dave Puleston. Having been offered the opportunity to step inside this incredible hangar, I can attest to not only the amazing aircraft contained within, but also the pure passion for aviation, that the above named represent.

Pilot Information

In the interests of good relations with the local community, Sywell Aerodrome has a polite request of all visiting and home based pilots, detailed within their website pages. Pilots, when taking off from 21R, 21L and 23 to please make a normal climb out straight ahead to 500 feet before making a turn. This should ensure that you are clear of Sywell primary school.

A visual representation of the flight protocol is located within the pages to assist with flight planning when arriving and departing the aerodrome.

PPR is essential at Sywell, as the airport thrives with activity such as aerobatics, so it is good airmanship to obtain a proper visiting brief.

Flying in

A wealth of information is contained within the AIP publication and on your airfield plate and it is recommended that you thoroughly include this in your pre-fight plan.

Sywell Aerodrome is located within Class G airspace, the Daventry CTA being above at 7500′. East Midlands Airport is situated 37nm to the north north west and Birmingham Airport 36nm to the west north west.

The Fixed Wing join is via the overhead and not below 1500′ on the QFE. Helicopters operate on the deadside up to 800′ QFE.

Overhead and crosswind joins for helicopters are not permitted.

There is a large Poplar tree on the approach to Runway 03L at 453′ amsl.

Going forward

It is delightful to see such a varied amount of activity ongoing at Sywell, all fields of business and aviation operating in harmony.

Runway lighting is currently being installed and anticipated to be in operation for the last quarter of 2017

In Summary

Sywell is a gem of British Aviation. From its first routes to this very day, aviation is at it’s thumping heart.

If you are able to, fly in and park. Decompress in the bar with a fantastic meal and a fine beer and overnight in the splendid Aviator Hotel. Spend the morning in the museum, then wander around the aerodrome, as who knows what you will see and who you will meet.

If you haven’t been to Sywell, it’s time to get the charts out and plan a trip. If you’ve already been, it’s about time you went again!

Checklist

Before visiting:

  1. Check the website
  2. Careful consideration to NOTAM
  3. Arrange PPR
  4. Book your hotel room
  5. Plan the flight with Airbox RunwayHD and simply enjoy.

For videos showing  arrival and departure to and from, a selection are available on the author’s YouTube channel.