RAF Norton Aerodrome

This site is very overgrown, there is a lot of rubbish; an old van, broken caravan and litter. It looks like people have used it as a dumping ground. There are some buildings left but they are pretty trashed and are covered in graffiti. I do not know what the future of the site is. Earlier this year the Sheffield Star published as story which stated that the buildings are to be demolished. However, the future of the site is currently unknown.

It would be nice if the council converted into a park as the site is huge and there are some lovely wildflowers. However, it is prime real estate and I would have thought that Sheffield Council will put houses on it, or sell it for housing eventually. It is in a Green Belt area so maybe that will have some say on what the site will be used for in the future.

There is not a great deal of information online about the site. I assume that the local archive will have more, but with COVID, it is currently closed. The air base began as the No 16 Balloon Training Centre in 1939, and was the home of three squadrons of barrage balloons to fend off attacks.

In 1943, the balloons were transferred to London and Norton was used as a station in the in the Royal Auxiliary Air force Signals Group, concerned mainly with radar & radio equipment, becoming the n°3 Ground Radio Servicing Squadron. This continued until 1965, when under an RAF reorganisation the Squadron was moved to Rutland. RAF Norton officially closed in January 1965.

In the 1970s, the site was owned by the NHS. There were plans to build a third big hospital for Sheffield on the site. However, for whatever reason, this did not happen. I remember learning to drive here as a teenager, I think it was £5 and parents used to take their kids there to practice along the runways. That was in the early 2000s. I believe this ceased as the council felt there were too many health and safety issues. However, as you can see from the pictures, the site is very easily accessible and there were a lot of people milling around, some people on quad bikes, motorbikes, etc. I think it is more of a health and safety hazard now than when it was used as learner driver training.

Thanks for reading.

RAF Cosford Air Show 2019, Shropshire, England.

This was my first time at Cosford Air Show and only my third air show in total.  I must admit, I have started to really enjoy air shows and I have become increasingly interested in aviation history and heritage, just from accompanying my partner to museums and shows. 

The day before the show I felt a little apprehensive about the weather.  On route to our hotel, we briefly stopped at the museum.  The weather was wet and cold and I was dreading spending a day outside if it was going to rain and be miserable.  On the day of the show, there must have been a miracle as the weather was predominantly dry and sunny, with only small spitting of rain.  I was unprepared for sun and ended up getting sunburnt.  Macmillan was giving out free sun cream samples, I definitely should have got one. 

We stayed in nearby Shifnal, at the Park House Hotel.  I paid £78 for 2 people bed and breakfast through ebookers.  The hotel was nice and only a short drive to the air show.  My advice, if you plan to stay here is to bear in mind that breakfast doesn’t start until 8am on a weekend and the air show opens at 8am.  If you plan on getting to the show for opening, you may have to miss breakfast. 

On approach to the show, we followed the yellow signs for parking.  The signs took us to the back of the base, not to the usual museum entrance.  We arrived at approximately 8.45am and got pretty much in and parked with no hold up’s.   Considering how many people were attending the show, I was very impressed with the traffic management.  I have read online that some other people found getting in and out of the show a nightmare, I suppose it depends on which entrance you use and at what time you were entering/exiting. 

We paid for entry into the Cosford Club which was £65 each plus a booking fee of £1.50.  Standard adult tickets to the show cost £29 and accompanied under 16s are free (based on the 2019 show).  The Cosford Club gets you entry into a tent, a programme and a seating area with a view of the central fly line, with chairs and tables provided.  If you book the Cosford Club my advice would be to get there early in order to get a table near to the front, especially if you want to take photographs.  If you have general admission, the show was packed, again, there are some spaces that offer a clear view of the runway, but you have to get there early if you want to bag one of these. 

I thought the show overall was great, but I personally feel that certain aspects could be improved for next year.  The main thing for me is the food choices.  I’m not a big meat eater and I like to eat relatively healthy when I can.  I felt that the healthy and vegetarian food options were very limited and if you are a vegan they were non-existent.  The only food stands that I saw were burger, fish and chips and pastie stands, along with some sweet and cake stands.  I think a wider variety of food outlets would be welcomed, especially for people that are vegan/vegetarian/ gluten free etc.  In the Cosford Club, there was a toastie van, which I got something from.  It was nice, but a little greasy and definitely not healthy.  Apart from the poor food choices, the only other thing that I was a little disappointed with was that there was not enough time to look around all the exhibits as well as watching the entire flying displays.   After the flying finished, the grounds stayed open for another hour and a half-ish, until about 7pm. However, many trade stands started to pack up after the flying had finished and as there was so much to see, there wasn’t enough time.

I thought the show had something for everyone and every age.  There was a variety of stands and exhibits.  Some were related to aviation and others weren’t.  There was also a small fairground and things for children.   If you are considering applying to join the RAF or other British forces, there are stands where you can find out more information.  Also, companies like Rolls-Royce and BAE systems had a presence at the show.

Some of the static aeroplane exhibits on display had open cockpits for people to sit in, there were quite large queues for these though.  As well as the static displays, other attractions were the RAF Zone, STEM Hangers, Helicopter flights and the Vintage Village.  More information on these can be found on the air show website.

Other than the flying displays, I thought the Vintage Village was the best part.  I’m a history lover so I enjoyed seeing the people dressed up in WWII attire as well as The Bluebird Belles vocal harmony trio.

As for the flying displays, the Red Arrows were spectacular as was the Avro Lancaster B1 and the Supermarine Spitfire IX Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. I also enjoyed seeing the Boeing Chinook HC6.  A few of the displays had the added effect of pyrotechnics which was fun to see.

Overall, I really enjoyed Cosford Air Show and can’t wait for next year.

Additional Information:

  • The Air Show is an advance ticket only event and it is the Royal Air Force’s only official air show.
  • Next year’s date is Sunday 14th June 2020.

Cosford Air Show website

Park House Hotel website

Royal Air Force Hawker Siddeley/BAe Harrier (Retired)
Royal Navy British Aerospace Sea Harrier FA2
Royal Air Force Auster AOP.9
Royal Air Force Percival Provost T1
Jet Provost Strike Master
Czech Air Force SAAB JAS-39C Gripen
German Navy Lockheed P-3C Orion
Royal Air Force Westland Whirlwind (Retired) – XJ729 is the only air worthy Whirlwind remaining in the world
Czech Air Force AERO L-159 ALCA
Swiss Air Force McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet
Swiss Air Force McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet
Hispano HA-1112 Buchon (Messerschmitt) & Royal Air Force Hawker Hurricane
Royal Air Force Red Arrows aerobatic team (BAE Systems Hawk T.1)
Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire
Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight)
Army Air Corps Westland WAH-64 Apache
Royal Navy Hawker Sea Fury
(Civilian Owned) United States Air Force North American P-51D Mustang
(Civilian Owned) United States Navy Boeing Stearman
Royal Air Force Shorts Tucano
Royal Air Force Falcons parachute display team
Royal Air Force British Aerospace Hawk T.1A
Royal Air Force Westland Wessex

Thank you for reading.