Shoreham Airport

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Shoreham Airport
Never known as "Brighton City Airport"
Shoreham Airport buildings.jpg
Airport type Public
Operator Brighton City Airport Ltd
Serves South of West Sussex
Location Lancing, West Sussex
Elevation AMSL 7 ft / 2 m
Coordinates 50°50′08″N 000°17′50″W / 50.83556°N 0.29722°W / 50.83556; -0.29722Coordinates: 50°50′08″N 000°17′50″W / 50.83556°N 0.29722°W / 50.83556; -0.29722
EGKA is located in West Sussex
Location in West Sussex
Direction Length Surface
m ft
02/20 1,036 3,399 Asphalt
07/25 877 2,877 Grass
13/31 408 1,339 Grass
700 2,297 Grass
Statistics (2013)
Passengers 732
Movements 55,500
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
The art deco terminal building of Shoreham Airport
Interior of the terminal building
View of Runway 2 from the West Coastway railway line.

Shoreham Airport (IATA: ESHICAO: EGKA), Never known as "Brighton City Airport" yet owned by Brighton City Airport Ltd (BCAL)[3] following the take over of the airport from Albemarle in May 2014, is an airport located 1 NM (1.9 km; 1.2 mi) west of Shoreham-by-Sea[1] at Lancing in the Adur district of West Sussex, England. Founded in 1910, it is the oldest airport in the UK.[4] It is situated immediately to the south of the A27 road, between Brighton and Worthing, and immediately to the north of the West Coastway railway line.

Shoreham has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P884) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction.



The first aviator to fly there was Harold Piffard in 1910; a memorial garden celebrates his flight.[4] The aerodrome was officially opened on 20 June 1911. The first flying school opened in 1913.

First World War[edit]

During the First World War the aerodrome was used by the Royal Flying Corps. It was the departure point for the first flight (Blériots[5] and BEs) to join the conflict across the Channel.[6]

Inter-war period[edit]

The aerodrome became an airport for the adjacent towns of Brighton, Hove and Worthing in the 1930s. A new terminal building was opened on 13 June 1936. It was designed by Stavers Tiltman in the Art Deco style.[7] The terminal building is still in use and was designated a Grade II* listed building in 1984.

Second World War[edit]

During the Second World War the airfield operated a variety of military aircraft including Westland Lysanders that were later replaced by Supermarine Spitfires, Hawker Hurricanes, Boulton Paul Defiants and a pair of Bristol Beaufighters. It was an air-sea-rescue base with Supermarine Walrus aircraft joining other wartime activities in the nearby harbour.

The airfield was bombed several times and a Messerschmitt Bf 109 was shot down by ground fire during one such attack, crash-landing near the terminal building.

A B-17 Flying Fortress crash-landed at the airfield after being damaged during a raid on Germany. The consequent damage to the old guardhouse on the north side of the airfield can still be seen.

Post-Second World War[edit]

The landing area was entirely grass until a tarmac runway was built in 1981.

In 1949, F G Miles Engineering Ltd moved to Shoreham from Redhill Aerodrome and soon occupied the repaired Municipal Hangar.

Beagle Aircraft Ltd (British Executive & General Aviation Ltd) was formed at Shoreham on 7 October 1960 and design drawings were begun a few weeks later for a new prototype twin-engine light transport aircraft. Built as the Beagle B.206X at Beagle's Rearsby factory near Leicester, this promising new type was completed at Shoreham and first flown by John Nicolson on 15 August 1961. Beagle Aircraft Ltd was nationalised in late 1966 and taken over by the British Motor Corporation but later entered receivership in late 1969 and soon closed down.

In 2006, due to mounting debts the airport was sold by the local authority to a property company on a 150-year lease. It was intended that the airport would provide increasing commercial flight activity for the conurbation on the coast nearby, particularly the city of Brighton & Hove.

The pre-war Municipal Hangar was Listed Grade II in July 2007.


The airport is used by privately owned light aeroplanes, flying schools, and for light aircraft and helicopter maintenance and sales. A number of operators provide sight-seeing and pleasure flights, including the experience of flying in two T-6 Harvard World War II training aircraft.

On 2 May 2014, Brighton City Airport Ltd (BCAL) took ownership of Shoreham Airport and operations, taking over from Albemarle.[8]

Wild Life Festival[edit]

It was announced in January 2015 that the site would be the location of the first Wild Life Festival, developed by Disclosure and Rudimental. The inaugural Wild Life takes place at the aptly named Brighton City Airport on 6-7 June 2015. [9]

RAFA Shoreham Airshow[edit]

Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber at 2011 airshow.

Once every year in the late summer, the airport is host to the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) Shoreham Airshow. The airshow has flying and static displays by a variety of aircraft such as fast jets, military helicopters, aerobatic aircraft, and historic aircraft. A variety of ground displays by local organisations including the local flying clubs, the armed forces, and classic cars and vehicles. The show has raised over £1.5 million for the Royal Air Forces Association over 21 years.[10]

On 15 September 2007, a Second World War vintage Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft involved in the RAFA Air Display crashed near Lancing College. The pilot, Brian Brown, was killed in the crash, the first fatality in the history of the airshow.[11] The next year's show in 2008 featured a special tribute to Brown.

The 2007 show raised in excess of £150,000 for the Royal Air Forces Association, a record achievement.[citation needed]


Shoreham Airport

There is one terminal building at Shoreham, with a central reception and information desk, together with flight indicator boards announcing all arrivals and departures. The airport has two licensed restaurants. The airport houses Northbrook College's engineering department — a Centre of Vocational Excellence (CoVE) in Aerospace and Aviation. A number of aerospace and aviation commercial businesses have offices and workshops on the airport site and along the perimeter road.

The Shoreham Airport Visitor Centre features exhibits about the airport's history and area aviation history, a library and archive of related historic materials and guided tours of the airport.

Ground transport[edit]


A halt on the West Coastway Line was opened in 1910, just in front of the main building of the airport. In 1935 it changed name from Bungalow Town Halt to Shoreham Airport, but was closed in 1940.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

There are no regular scheduled passenger services from the airport. Various charter airlines are based at the airport.

South East Air Support Unit[edit]

The South East Air Support Unit operates from Shoreham Airport. Previously Sussex Police Air Operations Unit, the unit has been equipped since February 2000 with a MD Explorer, registered as "G-SUSX". The unit is headed by a Police Inspector, assisted by a Police Sergeant and two Police Constables, together with pilots, paramedics, and ground support staff. The aircraft always flies with a crew of three (one civilian pilot, one police officer, and one paramedic) and can reach any part of Sussex (around 1,500 square miles) within 20 minutes.[12]

Shoreham Airport RFFS[edit]

The Shoreham Airport Rescue and Firefighting Service provides a professional fire-fighting capability at the airport during operating hours. Headed by a Senior Airport Fire Officer, the service's two watches (Blue Watch and Red Watch) man four fire appliances. The service has operated at the airport continuously for over 90 years.[13]

Shoreham Airport's aircraft fuelling service is operated as a department of the Rescue and Firefighting Service. There are three large mobile fuel bowsers for delivering both avgas and jet fuel to aircraft, including a service (accompanied by fire applicances) for fast delivery of fuel to police and coastguard emergency helicopters without disengaging their engines. Fuel technicians are attached to the firefighting watches and work the same shift pattern[14]

Film appearances[edit]

Due to its listed period buildings and facilities, Shoreham Airport has been used by film-makers seeking to portray a small town airport, or even for historical reconstructions of scenes from the 1930s onwards. The airport has appeared in several episodes of Agatha Christie's Poirot; "The Adventure of the Western Star", "Death in the Clouds" and "Lord Edgeware Dies".[15][16][17] External shots of the airport were also used in the film The Da Vinci Code[18] and Woman in Gold. The airport was used in the feature length documentary Angel Without Wings[19] and A Dark Reflection.


External links[edit]