City Airport Manchester Barton


Elevation – 73ft amsl

AFIS – 120.250 – Call sign = Barton Information

Runways – 4 Grass Runwways

Navigation Aids on aerodrome – No

Fuel – AVGAS 100LL, UL91 and Jet A1

Telephone Number (For PPR) – 0161 789 1362

Operating hours, hangarage, parking, landing fees and landing cards – Please see website.

Construction of Manchester’s new Municipal Barton Aerodrome began in Autumn of 1928, to replace the temporary Manchester (Wythenshawe) Aerodrome.

By January 1930 the grass airfield and large hangar were completed and that same month, the first passenger charter flight occurred. Northern Airlines operated several Avro 504’s at the aerodrome and Barton enjoyed charter flights, flight training and a popular aero club.

Barton circa 1933In the spring of 1933 the control tower and wireless station were completed, the first at a municipal airport outside London. The Tower is now regarded as the oldest operational tower in Europe and is still in use every day.

In 1938 all scheduled flights were transferred to the newly constructed Manchester Ringway Airport (which also accommodated RAF Ringway between 1940 and 1957).

Fairey FulmarDuring World War II Barton Aerodrome was requisitioned anf used for military aircraft repair and overhaul, that was mainly carried out by civilian firms. Aircraft types at Barton included Avro Ansons, Dominies, Fairey Battles, Fairey Fulmars, Hawker |Hurricanes and F4U Corsairs. Barton also scrapped Fairey Swordfish aircraft on the aerodrome. Over 700 Percival Proctor aircraft were assembled by F. Hills and Sons of Trafford Park and were flight tested at Barton Aerodrome.

The Douglas DC3 was operated between 1940 and 1942 by Aer Lingus and was the sole wartime scheduled air service between Barton and Dublin.

Today City Airport Manchester, as it is currently known is a thriving GA facility and widely regarded as being on of the most friendly and welcoming GA airfields in the UK.


I should start by explaining that this is my home airfield and therefore, I am somewhat biased as to how friendly and helpful everyone is, how smooth the runways are and how tasty and reasonable the food at Runway26 restaurant is! That said, having gained my PPL out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport, I craved a social side to my flying, which was the only downside of my initial training at Liverpool. Barton is welcoming to aviators and non aviators alike and on many a rainy weekday, there is still a bustling bar and restaurant and a whole host of people to talk to, when Mother Nature is adamant that it’s not a day for flying. When airfields are closing at an alarming rate across the UK, it is heart warming to learn of the investment at Barton and this is projected by the staff who are employed at the airport in every capacity. The proximity to Manchester and Liverpool International Airports focus the mind and sharpen the flying skills, as you enter from the south via the Low Level Corridor, or with more freedom of movement from the north. If you haven’t been, you are missing out. Make sure Barton is on your 2016 list of airfields to visit.

Location and amenities


City Airport Manchester (formerly and still locally, known as Barton Aerodrome) is a thriving business and general aviation airfield that is located just 5 miles to the west of Manchester City Centre. The airfield averages 50,000 takeoff and landing movements a year and there is always an exciting array of flying machines to see and hear. There are a number of resident helicopter, microlight and fixed wing flying schools on site, along with a fantastic and child friendly Viewing Park, with climbing frame and swings and restaurant/bar. Maintenance facilities are busy and bustling and a full-time fire and rescue crew are always on hand.


The airfield boasts the UK’s oldest and still serviceable, Air Traffic Control Tower which employs a full-time, friendly and professional FISO service. The Tower is a Grade 2 listed building and dates back to 1932 and has a first floor viewing balcony that is open to the public. Ample visitor and pilot parking is available and the airfield is within two minutes of junction 11 of the M60 and five minutes from The Trafford Centre, The Lowry, Imperial War Museum and Salford Quays.

Pilot Information is a professionally maintained website for the airfield and has many detailed pages and pictures ranging from the airfield and its pre, during and post war contributions to flying, right up to the current weather observations and Manchester TAF. Everything you could ever need to know is contained within one of the most comprehensive airfield websites I have encountered. The airfield produces a Handbook which is also available for download or you can collect a copy from the Tower and I recommend printing yourself a copy off. City Airport Manchester have a wide variety of Social Media feeds, all of which are detailed on their “Keep Informed – Follow Us” page of the website.

Due to the proximity of Barton to Manchester International Airport, arrival and departure procedures are in place and pilots should study their flight guides and obtain advice from the on duty FISO is assistance is required. PPR is required for twin-engine aircraft, fixed wing over 1500Kg and non radio aircraft. High visibility jackets are required airside and as mentioned, this is a busy little airfield and they are worn with a smile!

Flying in

The airfield has 8 grass runways which vary in length from 398m to 641m. Drainage is good although even this has been tested by the 2015/2016 wet spell, but things are drying out nicely.


Approach and entry to Barton from the north (at 1800’ QFE) provides more options as you approach the airfield, although most pilots choose the Bolton Wanderers football stadium as the VRP of choice, by which time they are settled at 1800’ with their airfield approach checks complete. The stadium is still referred to as “The Reebok” and pilots have usually requested join or rejoin instructions by the time they are above.

b7Approaching from the south, pilots generally use the Low Level Route (LLR) and fly north from Ashcroft Farm Airfield VRP below 1300’ on the Manchester QNH (obtained via Manchester ATIS on 128.175). Pilots monitor Manchester Approach on 118.575 and squawk 7366 on the transponder. Again, detailed information is provided on including a printable PDF. Studying this information is vital, as infringements still occur, when they really shouldn’t. There is no need to speak to Manchester and they’ll only call you up if you begin to stray. The LLR is good flying practice for aviators and whilst a good lookout is required, it is rewarding to land at Barton, knowing that you have successfully navigated a unique piece of airspace.

This link from their website contains all of the details and features a downloadable PDF for reference also.

Please see the gallery below for more pictures of arrival and departure.

Going forward

In 2015 Runway 26R/08L was extended by 100 metres and 26L/08R is scheduled to be resurfaced in 2016. The future is looking bright at City Airport Manchester and investments in its infrastructure being made. Along with the new runway surfacing work 2016 will also see the construction of a new hanger; such is the demand at the airport. There is even talk of a hard runway at Barton, but rumour has it, this has been an urban myth since before the Wright brothers came up with the idea of powered flight…. We can only hope that this also becomes a viable reality.

In Summary

From Rock Stars who come to perform at a Manchester Venue, to those wanting a lazy afternoon watching the world go by as the children play, Barton has it all. Whether you are looking for an additional rating, type or training on microlights, fixed wing or rotary aircraft, there is someone who will be happy to provide you with the service. Advice and assistance is always on hand and I can guarantee that wherever you are flying in from or out to, there’ll be a pilot who has already been there and will be happy to discuss it with you. Barton really should be on your list of airfields to visit in 2016.

Did I mention how friendly and helpful everyone is, how smooth the runways are and how tasty and reasonable the food at Runway26 restaurant is?……………….

There are some really good airfields in the UK and there are some truly terrific ones. Barton is one of the latter.


Before visiting

  1. Check out, particularly for LLR information
  2. Speak with an on duty FISO
  3. Arrange PPR

For videos showing VRP’s, arrivals and departures to and from City Airport Manchester, Barton, a selection are available on the author’s YouTube channel.