|IATA: none – ICAO: none|
|Airport type||Private / Unlicensed|
|Operator||C Walton Ltd|
|Elevation AMSL||467 ft / 142 m|
|Sources: Airport website and DAFIF|
The site became privately owned by the Chrysler Motor Corporation in 1973, and was then used for high-performance car testing, the testing of other vehicles, and vehicle storage. These activities still take place under the ownership of the Walton family company, the former airfield having been bought from Peugeot-Talbot (Chrysler's successor), in August,1983. Various circuits are available, from 4.2 miles (6.8 km) to 0.9 miles (1.4 km) loop; or the former runway, just under 2 miles (3 km) long.
Bruntingthorpe houses a Cold War jet-aircraft museum with about twenty aircraft from that era. It is open on Sundays from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm, and the aircraft, including the Lightning Preservation Group's pair of English Electric Lightning F.6s, XR728 and XS904, are brought out to demonstrate fast taxi and takeoff runs on the two open days held each year, usually the end of May Bank Holiday Sunday and the end of August Bank Holiday Sunday. Aircraft currently in a taxiable state, besides the two Lightnings are:
- Handley Page Victor, XM715
- de Havilland Comet, XS235
- BAe Nimrod, XV226
- Hawker Hunter T.7, XL565
- Hunting Percival Jet Provosts, XN542,XN584,XM365, and XP672
- Blackburn Buccaneers XW544, XX894,and XX900 XX889
- English Electric Canberra WT333
- PZL TS-11 Iskra, 1018 (ex Polish AF)
- Aero L.29 Delphin, 395189 (Romanian AF)
Also present and being restored to taxiable condition are a
- Panavia Tornado, ZA326
- de Havilland Sea Vixen, XJ494
- Hawker Hunter GA.11, WT 806
- Hawker Hunter T.7 XL605
- Lockheed F-104G Starfighter,22+35 (ex Luftwaffe)
- Folland Gnat, XP534.
Static aircraft include an Aero Spacelines Super Guppy, F-BTGV, a fourth Buccaneer, XX889, a second Gnat, 'PF179', Dassault Mystere, 85, a Cessna 152, G-BAXX, Hawker Harrier, and SEPECAT Jaguar XZ382. There are two nose sections, Handley Page Victor, B.2, XM592, and English Electric Lightning, XV328. Vickers VC10 C1K XR808 "Bob" arrived at Bruntingthorpe on 29 July 2013 after retirement from the RAF; it was earmarked for preservation at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, but now its future is less clear.
Beech Restorations restore aircraft to flying condition. Permanently based at Bruntingthorpe will be Beechcraft Model 18, G-BKRN a North American T-6 Texan, G-TOMC, and a Cessna 120. Another T-6, G-CCPM, ex Canadian AF, is being restored to flying condition, and there are two others waiting restoration, as is a Fairey Battle. A Max Holste Broussard is awaiting its airworthiness certificate when, and it will then return to Norwich Airport. (Information correct as at 15 January 2012).
The most notable aircraft at the aerodrome was the Avro Vulcan XH558, it having been restored to airworthy condition over a period of eight years at a cost of about GBP6,000,000. Its first flight was from Bruntingthorpe on 18 October 2007. The Vulcan left Bruntingthorpe at the beginning of the 2008 flying display season, was temporarily based at RAF Brize Norton as a flying base, and RAF Lyneham as its winter maintenance base. It is now permanently based at Robin Hood Airport, Doncaster, formerly RAF Finningley 'V Bomber' base.
As well as car testing, Bruntingthorpe offers storage of cars and aircraft, film production facilities, and military/civilian defence testing. Within the airport is a repair facility for Ferraris and Maseratis. The site benefits from planning consent for Proving and Testing of Vehicles.
1997 Boeing 747 Explosion Test
In 1997, the airfield was used by the Federal Aviation Administration of the USA and the Civil Aviation Authority to conduct a test to study the effects of a terrorist planted bomb explosion on board a wide-body aircraft such as had happened over Lockerbie. The test used an ex-Air France Boeing 747-100, and four similar sized bombs were detonated at the same time, two in each underfloor luggage compartment, in opposite corners. Three of the four corners where the explosions were to take place were thoroughly protected by kevlar or titanium, but the rear left hand corner of the rear luggage compartment was deliberately left unprotected, to see what the effect would be. Many cameras were positioned inside the aircraft and round it outside, and there is a well known photograph of the rear port side of the aircraft being blown out. There was no damage elsewhere, the protective measures having completely contained the other three explosions. Photographs of the test were later involved in a hoax photography, which supposedly showed an Air Canada Boeing 747 with its back half exploding on landing. The photo was however an edit of an Air Canada Boeing 747 landing normally with the photo of the explosion test stitched onto the back of the aircraft.
Accidents and incidents
On 3 May 2009 during a "fast taxi" run, Handley Page Victor XM715 made an unplanned brief flight, reaching a height of between 20–30 ft before being landed. The aircraft does not have a permit to fly. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stated that they will not be conducting an investigation. The causes have been identified as the co-pilot failing to reply to the command 'throttles back', thus resulting in the pilot having to control the throttles himself, resulting in a brief loss of control of the aircraft, causing it to rise. No legal action is to be taken by the CAA against either of the crew aboard XM715 or the operators of Bruntingthorpe Airfield.
Bruntingthorpe has been used several times (and still is) to showcase cars for Five's Fifth Gear television series, and in October 2007 racing driver Jason Plato was rushed from the circuit following a serious fire in a Caparo T1 that occurred at an estimated 150 mph (240 km/h) during filming.
- Bruntingthorpe Proving Grounds, official site
- Airport information for Bruntingthorpe at World Aero Data. Data current as of October 2006.Source: DAFIF.
- Osborne, Tony (29 July 2013). "And Then There Were Three...". Aviation Week.
- "Vulcan rules the skies again after £6m facelift". Telegraph.co.uk. 2007-10-20.
- "Probe into unauthorised Victor flight". Leicester Mercury. Retrieved 9 September 2009. (Video of the flight)
- "PICTURES: Victor bomber accidentally becomes airborne during taxi demo". Flight International. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
- "Hero pilot, 70, averted air show disaster after co-pilot hit throttle of giant bomber by mistake". London: Daily Mail. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2009.
- Vulcan to the Sky Trust
- Aircraft Museum (open Sundays)
- Cold War jets collection[dead link]
- Lightning Preservation Group