Norwich International Airport – 12/11/2015

Norwich International Airport – 12/11/2015

At the start of the week my original plan for Thursday consisted of heading up to Doncaster Sheffield Robin Hood Airport to see the departure of the one and only Antonov An-225 Mriya.  However, as the days passed and it became clear that the aircraft would depart to the south (only really leaving the head-on rotation image as the guaranteed shot – something I’ve captured previously), my enthusiasm started to wane. 

Earlier in the year I’d made my first ever visit to Norwich International Airport, primarily out of a desire to photograph some of the gas rig helicopters that proliferate the place.  The forecast on the east coast was very good, and I decided that morning that I would head back there.

Norwich sees activity from quite a list of operators within the rig niche, with Bristow Helicopters leading the way in terms of quantity.  Bond Helicopters, CHC Scotia and NHV Helicopters (both NHV itself and recently acquired DanCopter) complete the picture.

In truth, these visits are a good few years too late.  Today, the vast majority of helicopters that you’ll see at Norwich are AgustaWestland AW139s – nice as they are.  Back in the mid ‘naughties’ those AWs would likely have been Sikorskys, particularly S-61s or S-76s.

There are still some more interesting types of helicopters to be found at NWI, however.  NHV, DanCopter and Bristow have all had examples of the Eurocopter EC155 active during my two visits to date, and there’s the odd Bristow EC225 Super Puma too.  G-HEMN, the East Anglian Air Ambulance, is also based.

Bristow is located towards the eastern end of the airfield and its aircraft are comfortably the most difficult ones to photograph well.

In addition to the rotary traffic, Norwich International Airport is, as the name suggests (!), an active international airport, albeit a fairly quiet one.  KLM Cityhopper (Fokker 70s), Eastern Airways (Jetstream 41s and ERJ-145s), FlyBe (Loganair operated Do328s) and Thomson (Boeing 737-800s) each operated a small number of scheduled flights during my two visits, though more are listed on Wikipedia as being seasonal.

KLM Engineering also has a large presence at NWI, resulting in a large number of different operators’ aircraft seen at the airport over the course of a year, and the presence of Air Livery can occasionally produce weird and wonderful airline sightings from across the globe.

Further, the airport is also home to SaxonAir, the airport’s preferred handling agent, supplying ground handling services for all non-scheduled business, private and general aviation movements.   SaxonAir also offers its own charter service with a mixed fleet of bizjets, ranging in size from the Citation Mustang through to the Gulfstream 550.

There’s even what looks like a very good aviation museum on the northside of the airfield, albeit I’m still to get across there.

NWI is a fascinating place with plenty of variety and the scope for some rather lovely pictures.  I shall be back! 

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