QinetiQ Boscombe Down is situated in the countryside of Wiltshire. It is located just off the A303 and east of the village of Amesbury. It is situated close to the recognised World Heritage sites of Stonehenge and Woodhenge. Boscombe Down is an MOD-owned, Contractor Operated site which is responsible for the test and evaluation of new aircraft and aircraft equipment about to enter service. This test work is handled by the commercial company QinetiQ who, in agreement with the MOD, and with the support of the local military, handles the test and evaluation tasks placed upon them by the Joint Test and Evaluation Group. It is also home to the Empire Test Pilots School, which is the reason so many different aircraft are based here, and the Southampton University Air Squadron. This testing affiliation started back in 1939 and many important British aeroplanes have made their first flights from here, like the BAC TSR.2.
The airfield has two runways, running south to north and running southwest to northeast, with the latter being the preferential runway. The aprons are all to the north, except for one helicopter hangar, which is to the westside of the north-south runway. This is also the area for helicopter training. Due to the secretive nature of some of the missions of QinetiQ, the airfield is well fenced off, including surveillance cameras. Do not loiter at these fences but keep some distance.
As stated above, the airfield is very close to the A303 dual carriageway. From London, take the M3 towards Basingstoke and switch there to the A303 via Andover to Amesbury.
Around the Airport
1Northeast side approach -1
This spot is the most used. Take the exit from the A303 towards Allington to drive along the airfield at your right. When you see the runway, park your car along the road; there are some spots to allow all traffic to pass.
Do not wander towards the gate but keep some distance. As you are located on a hill, you will have a good view of the airfield and you can spot all action on the apron and runway. In the afternoon, locate yourself along the roads for a good spot to photograph the landing aircraft.
(Note: signs posted here tell you that photography is not permitted.)
2Northeast side approach - 2
For photography of the aircraft coming in to land on the runway 23, it is best to park your car near spot 1 and to walk up the hill onto a small road along the landing lights.
On this spot, it is possible to peek into the hangar with a good 60x binocular. At the twitch in the road, walk into the field towards the fence closest to the hangar.
4South side approach
From spot 1, follow the Allington Track you are on towards Allington. At the crossing, take a right towards Boscombe and Idmiston via the A338/Tidworth Road. At the crossing with a south turn towards Idmiston via the Church Road, take the small road to the north. This will lead you to the fence and to a spot for landing traffic on runway 35. Most of the times this spot will give you some possibilities to read the helicopters exercising in this area as well.
5Southwest side approach
With easterly landings you will have to use this spot. Drive southbound from Amesbury via the A345 towards a small road to the east just when you see the runway. This Winterslow Road will run close to the perimeter fence but is somewhat lower than the runway, restricting any view of the runway. However, landing traffic can be easily seen and photographed. Parking could be a problem.
6View from the west
You can have a view of the runway from spot 6, but it is not really recommended as it is located on a small road and very close to the fence. From Amesbury, drive towards the airfield and take a south turn along Porton Road. When this road makes a turn leading you away from the airport, there is a small road to the left towards the fence.
7Boscombe Down museum
Driving south along the base perimeter on Porton road, you will come across the previous site of the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection. The museum has moved to nearby Old Sarum airport, however, for now, some airframes are still near the NAS as they are sold and will be scrapped, except for two Phantoms.
Coming from the A303, drive into Amesbury and follow the signs towards the airfield. At the main gate, there is a Lightning preserved.
9View from the north
From spot 1, there is a small dirt road along the perimeter. For better angles on the aircraft parked on the apron, you can walk along this road. Stay away from the fence and do not stay too long.
Standing on the hill, away from the fence, good landing shots can be made at spot 1. Photo: Piet Luijken
|XL629||Lightning T4, at main gate/spot 8|
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