Sywell Aerodrome

Sywell Aerodrome
Northampton/Sywell Aerodrome
Airport type Private
Owner/Operator Sywell Aerodrome Ltd.
Serves Northampton, Wellingborough, Kettering and Rushden
Location Northampton
Elevation AMSL 424 ft / 129 m
Coordinates 52°18′22″N 000°47′32″W / 52.30611°N 0.79222°W / 52.30611; -0.79222Coordinates: 52°18′22″N 000°47′32″W / 52.30611°N 0.79222°W / 52.30611; -0.79222

Location in Northamptonshire

Direction Length Surface
m ft
03R/21L 671 2,201 Grass
05/23 602 1,975 Grass
15/33 450 1,476 Grass
03L/21R 1,258 4,127 Concrete
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]

Sywell Aerodrome (IATA: ORM, ICAO: EGBK) is the local aerodrome serving the town of Northampton, Wellingborough, Kettering and Rushden, as well as wider Northamptonshire. The aerodrome is located 5 nautical miles (9.3 km; 5.8 mi) northeast of Northampton and was originally opened in 1928 on the edge of Sywell village.

The aerodrome caters for private flying, flight training and corporate flights. There is one fixed-wing flying school, one microlight school and a helicopter school. The 1930s Art Deco hotel has bar and restaurant facilities. Aviation related industries and businesses are also located at the aerodrome.

Northampton (Sywell) Aerodrome has a CAA Ordinary Licence (Number P496) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (Sywell Aerodrome Limited).[2]

A viewing area is provided for aircraft spotters.

Second World War

The aerodrome opened in 1928 and during the Second World War the aerodrome as RAF Sywell, was used as a training facility (Tiger Moths) and later an important centre for the repair of Wellington bombers and extensive sheds from this time still remain on the site.

Many aerial shots for the film Battle of Britain were taken over the airport and nearby area.


Since 1999, the aerodrome sought planning permission for a hard runway, which was intended to allow operations to continue over the winter, when the grass runways often become waterlogged.[3] In February 2010, the final inspection of the newly completed all-weather hard runway was carried out by the CAA who confirmed that it could be licensed for use.

The organizations STARE (Stop The Aerodrome Runway Expansion) and CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) campaigned against this change, arguing that it would lead to more and larger aircraft flying over the area and disturb its "rural tranquility".[4] Permission was granted for the runway on 22 November 2007 by the Department for Transport, and though campaigners vowed to fight the decision[5] they were unsuccessful and construction of the runway began in 2008. It opened during summer 2009 and enabled safe operations during the winter of 2009/2010 and onwards.


Sywell has three all-grass operational runways and a fourth all-weather concrete runway. The aerodrome's operational hours are 0900-1700 during winter and 0800-1700 during summer. The aerodrome offers an Aerodrome Flight Information Service to pilots.

Aviation Museum at Sywell

Sywell Aviation Museum

The aerodrome also houses the Sywell Aviation Museum dedicated to telling the wartime history of the site and the airmen that used it. The museum was celebrated with a visit a flypast by three North American P-51 Mustangs.

Brooklands Flying Club

Brooklands Flying Club[6] was based at Sywell, with a fleet of four Aero AT-3 aircraft and a Cessna 172. The club offered training for a Private Pilot's Licence (PPL), night rating and IMC rating.

The club opened in 2005 under the same name of the previous company that had been located on the airfield. The flying school closed down at the end of 2013. [7] The club has since reopened as 2Excel Training, operated in partnership with 2Excel Aviation, owners of The Blades aerobatics team, who are also based at the airfield.


Other flight training organisations on the airfield include:

The Blades

The Blades aerobatic display team are based at Sywell, where their five Extra EA-300 aircraft are hangared.[8] They perform aerobatic displays at major events around the country, in Europe, and in the Middle East.[9]The team is the only one fully licensed by the CAA to carry paying 'passengers' in aerobatic displays, out of Sywell, or at many other locations.[10]

Sywell Airshow

The aerodrome now hosts a bi-annual charity airshow[11] in aid of the local Air Ambulance where there are many classic aircraft flying and on display such as the Catalina, Mustang, North American Harvards.

Light Aircraft Association Rally

The Light Aircraft Association (LAA - formerly the Popular Flying Association), is the UK's body for amateur aircraft construction, and recreational and sport flying. It used to hold its annual rally at Cranfield Airport, and then at Kemble Airport. In 2006, the LAA lost so much money through poor attendances resulting from poor weather that in 2007 and 2008, much smaller (and cheaper) "regional rallies" were held. These were unpopular and in September 2009 a revived (if cut-down) LAA Rally was held at Sywell. This proved successful, and as further well-attended rallies took place at Sywell in 2010, 2011 and 2012, the long-term future of the LAA Rally seems secure.

Music in Flight

Music in Flight is an airshow held at Sywell, in which an orchestra plays classical music to accompany flying aircraft, hot air balloons, the Red Devils parachute display team and a fireworks display.


In 2009, Sywell was awarded the Best General Aviation Airport 2009 airport member award by the Airport Operators Association (AOA). The award was determined by the following bodies; the British Air Transport Association (BATA), the Airport Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) and the British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA).[12]

Business park

An industrial area in the complex accommodates firms, agencies and other commercial businesses.


  1. Northampton/Sywell - EGBK
  2. "Aerodrome Ordinary Licences" (PDF). CAA SRG. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 June 2007. Retrieved 23 June 2007.
  3. "Plans to improve aerodrome site". BBC News. 26 April 2006. Retrieved 24 August 2006.
  4. "£1m to sort out runway debate". Evening Telegraph. 14 August 2006. Retrieved 24 August 2006.
  5. "Campaigners fight on despite Sywell's runway approval". Northampton Chronicle & Echo. 22 November 2007. Archived from the original on 25 November 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  6. Brooklands Flying Club
  7. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. {{url=}}
  9. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  10. Sywell Airshow
  11. "AOA Annual Conference Award winners celebrate". Airport Operators Association. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
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