I had not been there for many years, and as junior (being a typical little boy), is mad on planes and all things mechanical no further excuses were needed!
Boeing 747 TF-AMC pictured above currently minus engines will no doubt end her days on the fire dump. That will wipe the smile off her face!
She entered service in 1979 with French airline UTA. In 1992 she was operated by Air France, then Air Atlanta Icelandic in 2004, Saudi Arabian Airlines in 2006 and back to Air Atlanta Icelandic earlier this year.
The airport is now used mainly for cargo flights, holiday charters and aircraft maintainence.
For more detailed information on the history of the airport please follow this link.
Just around the corner from the terminal building is a very busy and popular cafe with views over the airfield.
Adjacent to the cafe is the Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial dedicated to the memory of Allied air crews who served during the Second World War. Admission to the memorial is free of charge but donations are welcomed as it run by volunteers.
On display are many exhibits relating to wartime activities at the base but pride of place goes to a preserved Hurricane and Spitfire that, although not stationed at Manston, saw active service during the war.
Hurricane IIc LF751 was built at the Hawker aircraft factory at Langley in early 1944 and issued to No. 22 Maintenance Unit (MU) at Silloth.
In April 1944, LF751 joined No. 1681 Bomber Defence Training Flight. Later in the year she moved to No. 27 Operational Training Unit based at Waterbeach and remained there for the rest of her operational life.
In July 1945 LF751 was relegated to instructional purposes. Parts were removed from the aircraft for use on another Hurricane LF363 which later formed part of the famous Battle of Britain Memorial Museum Flight.
LF751 spent nearly 30 years as the gate-guardian at RAF Bentley Priory.
In 1985, it was decided that LF751 should be sent for restoration and she was delivered to the , Medway Aircraft Preservation Society (MAPS) based at Rochester Airport.
In 1988, after an expenditure of £ 18000 and 22000 man hours, LF751 was delivered to Manston but finished as BN230 of the 'Fighting Cocks' - No. 43 Squadron. BN230 was flown by Squadron Leader D.A.R.G. 'Danny' Le Roy Du Vivier DFC, the first Belgian to command a RAF Squadron.
Spitfire Mk XVI TB752 was built at Castle Bromwich in the early 1944 and entered service with No. 66 Squadron at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in March 1945.
She was armed with 2 x 20mm cannons and 4 x 0.5 machine guns plus a 500 lb bomb and 2 x 250 lb bombs. She was put into action carrying out ground attack missions against road and rail targets in Northern Holland and Germany.
On the 25th March 1945, TB752 was badly damaged after the port undercarriage leg failed to lower for landing, the main damage being to the wing and propeller blades.
Close up of the 403 Squadron Wolf insignia
On the 21st April, the Squadron 'C.O.', Squadron Leader 'Hank' Zary DFC RCAF destroyed a Me109. Four days later Flying Officer David Leslie destroyed an unidentified German aircraft (probably a Fw189).
On the 1st May Flying Officer ‘Bob’ Young destroyed a Fw190 and two days later Flying Officer ‘Fred’ Town shot down a Heinkel 111 which was to be TB752’s final "kill".
TB752 was moved to Manston in 1955 and stood for many years as station gate-guardian.
In 1978 the Medway Branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society took her to Rochester Airport for restoration which was completed just over a year later after 15,000 man hours of TLC.
Whilst we were admiring the Spitfire from outside the rope cordon, one of the volunteers on duty asked if my little boy would like to have look inside the aircraft.... (he does have his uses sometimes!).
Of course, we did not need to be asked twice! The volunteer went off and reappeared shortly with a set of steps and we were able to have a look inside the cockpit.
It looks very spartan compared to today's fighter aircraft. The volunteer told us that the Hurricane and Spitfire are each insured for £ 2 million. Quite mind blowing when you consider in 1940 it cost just under £ 10000 to build a Spitfire.
If you find yourself in Thanet, I would highly recommend a visit to the memorial.