I made this video in May 2019 and it’s a milestone as it’s the first medium-length video (around 9 minutes) I’ve made shooting and editing on the iPhone 8 Plus. On this page I present the video script as a blog post. There have been some changes since I made the video, listed at the end.
We’re going to go around the Manchester Airport Orbital Cycleway. This is our starting point, one mile east of the terminal. This is our mode of transport, an electric bike and we’re going to head West olong the A555 Manchester Airport Link Road.
We’ll be stopping along the route at places where you can watch and photograph or video the planes.
Here by the northern perimeter on Ringway road and Shadowmoss Road we are right underneath the final approach path.
I came here as a child and wished I lived in one of those houses. They were demolished in recent years for safety reasons this is the scene today.
The name Shadowmoss Road makes me think of the Shadowmoss air crash in 1957, when a BEA Viscount crashed into a row of houses. It’s Manchester’s forgotten air disaster.
Today there are more than 500 aircraft movements per day. Planes have reached a high level of sophistication and safety.
The planes land from the north east and take off towards the south west. When the wind is from the east they take off towards the north east.
The Airport Hotel on Ringway Road is a pub with a garden at the back, which has great views of the planes taking off, but be careful, parking is restricted. Here’s my photo of an Aer Lingus Airbus 320 taken in 2007.
Next to Terminal three you can see the planes through the fence. It’s too narrow for a DSLR lens but the iPhone lens is so tiny it can peep through the wire netting.
Terminal 3 has no public viewing facilities, and please note, there’s a charge to drop off in front of the terminal. Better to use the free drop off point, from where there are free buses to the terminals.
This is the only part of the original 1962 terminal building still visible. The air traffic controllers moved to a new control tower in 2013. I came here is the child and went on to the viewing terraces where I took this photograph and included it in a school project. The terraces were closed due to increasing security threats.
In 1981 I worked at Manchester Airport on the Information Desk and got to know the airport quite well. It was a great job.
The airport grew and grew, and today arriving passengers are welcomed by the sight of a multistorey car park. But a new terminal is planned. The remains of the old one will disappear.
The Radisson Blu hotel is an impressive building, with great views from the business class lounge at the top. And just nearby, beyond the hedge, a taste of the exotic, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner of Ethiopian airways.
This is the station, bringing together trains, trams and buses. The Skylink leads to terminals one and three. It has moving walkways that are not always working!
This part of the Skylink goes to Terminal 2, which is currently being extended as part of the airport’s one billion pound expansion plan. The drop off point is now further away from the terminal building and there’s a three pound charge. Best to use the free drop off point.
This is the interior of Terminal 2. Soon it will be much bigger and will become the main terminal of the airport and it’s set for completion in 2020.
When I worked at Manchester Airport, this area was just empty fields.
But just a few feet away from all this construction, an old timber-framed house that was here centuries before the airport appeared.
We continue along the lane to the south west of the airport and there’s an amusing road sign and we are at the World Freigh Terminal on the west side of the airport. We can see the new control tower which opened in 2013.
Close to here the Romper pub in Ringway. For many years the airport was called Ringway, a name which goes back the middle ages and before. Strange that the name Ringway is similar to the word ‘runway’. This is Ringway Chapel now the Ringway Life Centre. The name ‘Ringway’ always reminded me of the ringing sound of the turboprop engines of the planes.
Further along Wilmslow old Road is Runway visitor park. A Trident and a Nimrod are on display, Concorde is in its own building. Book in advance to visit. Here’s my photo of Concorde on its final journey on 22 Oct, 2003, taken from the viewing park. The viewing park is fairly close to the runways and taxiways and the views are quite good. Entry is free to people on foot and by bike but car drivers pay a hefty parking charge. The upmarket PremiAir private terminal is located directly in front of the viewing area.
We’ll move on from Runway Visitor Park and onto the A538 towards Wilmslow, passing a brand new petrol station. Using the shared pedestrian and cycle path head towards the tunnel under the south west end of the airport. While I was working at the Airport I had a Trumph Spitfire, my first car and it ran out of petrol at this spot!
We are between the old tunnel and the new tunnel which passes under the second runway. If we’re lucky we might see a plane taking off but not at the moment. We continue through the new tunnel to the roundabout by the River Bollin and this spot always reminds me of the 2nd Runway protestors who camped out in the trees near here.
The old Altrincham Road was closed when the second runway was built but we can continue through the National Trust property. The airport is just beyond the trees and soon we are riding along the path next to the perimeter fence and here we can stop to watch the planes.
We can see the Ethiopian Boeing 787 Dreamliner about to take off for Addis Ababa. Here are a few of my archive photos taken from this viewpoint. The BMI A330. BMI sadly finished in 2019. And American Airlines Boeing 767 in the old livery, the Virgin Atlantic 747, and today still operating, same livery, but with a different font!
The big crowd-puller is the Emirates A380, with two arrivals and departures every day. Please note, this viewing area is not approved by the National Trust. In fact there was an interesting sign which has long since disappeared. My photo of it is on my Patreon blog.
And now we’re back on the orbital cycleway by the perimiter fence, looking over towards the 2013 control tower and an easyJet Airbus. We continue along the old Altrincham Road. It’s semi-rural with farms and houses now on both sides.
Let’s go down this narrow footpath and what do we find? A field with horses, providing an idyllic sunset scene, just a stone’s throw from the busy airport. We’d better continue, there’s still plenty of power in the battery and after passing an emergency gate, it’s the Manchester Airport mockup aircraft used for fire training.
Now we’re on the home stretch heading towards Styal Road, where we turn left and soon we are back at our starting point. We’ve covered a distance of around 7.5 miles.
The video was captured mostly on the iPhone and I also used a Panasonic TZ70. The video was entirely edited on the iPhone and it’s an iPhone 8 Plus. If you found this video interesting, then please like it and please post a comment, hit the bell button for notifications and most importantly, please subscribe – I have two channels – This one aidanorourke for my photo and video projects and my other channel AidanExplorer, exploring Europe and the world through languages.
We’ll finish with a sunset captured here a few weeks ago.
1. My sole active YouTube Channel is now www.youtube.com/aidanorourke, where this video is posted.
2. Virgin Atlantic have permanently withdrawn their Boeing 747s.
3. My Connect folding electric bike has been, shall we say, withdrawn from service, and I now use the non-electric Brompton B75 folding bike.
4. The coronavirus crisis of early to mid 2020 almost completely shut down Manchester and other airports – watch my short video of a silent Terminal 3. By mid 2020 it was starting to recover.
5. I am not updating my Patreon page, though it remains active.
6. The German version of this video is in preparation.