At East Midlands Aeropark, explore the aviation museum, discover reconstructed, historic planes, and watch planes taking-off and landing at this ever-expanding airport.
East Midlands Aeropark is a place where yesterday’s airplane history meets the modern airliners of today. If you love these big flying machines, this is the place for you. Within the park, are two viewing areas north of the international airport´s runway. The platform at the eastern end of the park stands at the height of the perimeter fence, providing you an unrestricted view across the airport. It is perfect for plane spotting and makes the ideal vantage point for taking photographs of planes taking-off and landing at this growing international and cargo airport.
The story of the Aeropark can be traced back to 1977, when Leicester Air Museum was formed. This was where it all started, but it took a long time before it became the park we see today. After only four years, the museum had to close. However, a new organisation took over, forming the East Midlands Historic Flying Group. They wanted to purchase an old Varsity aircraft and see it back in the air once again, however, due to insufficient funding the group had to give up. It wasn’t until 1984, that finally the Aeropark Volunteers Association (AVA) formed. With some local help and funding, they established the aeropark on the Eastern perimeter of the airfield at Castle Donington.
You, of course, can’t have an aviation museum without airplanes, and little by little it grew. The Avro Vulcan B2A arrived in 1982, after AVA prevented it from being reduced to scrap. Shortly afterwards, aircraft models such as AW Argosy, Britten Norman Sheriff and Westland Whirlwind arrived. In spite of great effort, the park closed due to runway extensions in 1994. Luckily, a new site was found, thanks to dedicated members of the AVA and the airport team. This time at the north western corner of the airfield, not far from the Donington Park Motor Racing Circuit. This is where you can find it today.
Great volunteer effort
The new aeropark, as we see it today, opened in August 2001, after a substantial investment programme by the airport. The park is managed and run by volunteers from the AVA. All entrance fees goes directly into maintaining and purchasing aircraft exhibits.
After moving to the new site, things have developed over the years. For example, they have built a genuine World War II Romney building, with another larger one in progress. The first one is currently housing a working display area, artefacts, aviation memorabilia, an office and stores. The AVA look forward to having the new Romney in place, as it will allow them to display the more delicate airframes, which are not suitable for external display.
The aeropark also presents a collection of 18 complete airframes, displayed outside, five aircraft under complete restoration, and four additional aircraft sections. In addition, inside the hanger you can explore aircraft engines close up, including from Rolls Royce Spey, Bristol Hercules and Gyron Junior, as well as other aircraft components and old photographs of their glory days.
If you love aviation history and planes and are looking for aviation fun, or are simply looking for something entertaining to do whilst staying at Radisson Blu Hotel, East Midlands Airport, a visit to the Aeropark is recommended.