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RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting – A Complete Guide

If you love aviation, then RAF Coningsby plane spotting in Lincolnshire is the perfect place. Here’s all the info for visiting.

How To Get To RAF Coningsby

RAF Coningsby is located nearly 10 miles (15.8 km) north west of Boston and about 14 miles (22.5km) north east of Sleaford in Lincolnshire.

It is on the southern edge of Coningsby village, near the A153/A155 and the easiest way to get there is by car.

The plane spotting area is located at Dogdyke Road, Coningsby LN4 4SY, where there is a free public car park.

Once you get close to Coningsby you will see signs for both RAF Coningsby and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF).

Follow the signs and you will pass the BBMF hangar where you will see a small parking/viewing area next to the fence on the left but for the main viewing area, continue a short way south on this road.

You will come to a parking area with a gravel surface and this is the official plane spotting area where you can safely watch the aircraft flying in and out.

RAF Coningsby Entrance Fee

RAF Coningsby Viewing Area

It is free to visit the RAF Coningsby viewing area.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Access to the hangar is by guided tour only and admission charges apply.

Adults: £9.80

Children: £5.70 (5-16 years)

Children: Free (Under 5)

Family ticket: £26.80 (2 adults and up to 3 children)

Aged 60+: £8.30

RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
Arriving at the plane spotting car park.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
Arriving at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

RAF Coningsby Opening Times

RAF Coningsby Viewing Area

The viewing area is open all day, every day.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

The visitor centre is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 5pm.

It’s not necessary to book a tour during the quieter months, just arrive at the Visitor Centre and they will get you on the next available tour.

During peak season it’s advisable to check the website re whether you need to book or not.

Tours leave every half hour starting at 10.30am, but may go more frequently if it’s busy.

The last tour leaves at 3.30pm from March to October and at 3pm from November to February.

RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
The lay-by car park where plane spotters gather.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
Old shelters can be found at the entrance.

Best Time To Visit RAF Coningsby For Plane Spotting

The best time to visit and see plenty of action is between 9am and 6pm on any weekday.

However, Friday afternoons are said to be not as good for RAF Coningsby plane spotting as flying is at a minimum due to all the aircraft being towed into the hangars for the weekend.

Take a picnic as you may end up being there a while, waiting for the next exciting take off or landing.

There are no facilities at the viewing area. There is however a toilet available at the petrol station near the A153/B1192 junction.

If you have a motorhome it is possible to stay overnight here.

Be careful not to walk through any fields of crops in the area.

What To Pack

Photography Camera

Tripod

Day Bag

Power Bank

Reusable Water Bottle

Sunscreen

Lightweight Rain Jacket

Beanie Hat

Knit Gloves

RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
We camped out the night before RAF Coningsby plane spotting.
RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
A burger van arriving for breakfast.

RAF Coningsby History

RAF Coningsby opened in November 1940, during the Second World War, serving as an RAF Bomber Command Station.

However, the original grass runways struggled to cope with heavy bomber operations.

So between September 1942 and August 1943 the airfield closed whilst paved runways and new hangars were built for such aircraft.

The first unit to return, equipped with Avro Lancaster heavy bombers, was the now famous 617 squadron, known as the Dambusters.

In 1944 this squadron, requiring more space, moved to nearby Woodhall Spa and was replaced by another Lancaster squadron.

After the Second World War, Coningsby became the home of the Mosquito equipped 109 Squadron and 139 Squadron and it 1953 it received its first jet aircraft – the English Electric Canberra.

Coningsby has been a fighter station since the Phantom arrived in the late 1960s, followed by the Tornado and now the Typhoon.

In fact, Coningsby was the first airfield to receive the Phantoms, the Tornado ADV and was the first to receive its replacement, the Eurofighter Typhoon.

RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
The planes in their hangers.

What To Expect At RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting

Unlike Heathrow plane spotting, where you’ll see more commerical planes, this large gravel car park provides plenty of parking in a fenced off area that allows good views of RAF aircraft coming and going.

RAF Coningsby is currently one of two RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) Stations which protect the UK airspace. (RAF Lossiemouth is the other.)

It is therefore home to two frontline, combat ready squadrons and is also the training station for Typhoon pilots. So there’s plenty to see!

It is also home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) and the associated visitor centre since March 1976. (Access to this hangar is by guided tour only and admission charges apply.)

RAF Coningsby is a busy airfield with nearly 3000 Service Personnel, Civil Servants, and contractors all working on the base at any given time.

Flying is usually on weekdays only and normally limited to between the hours of 9am and 6pm. Although there will be occasional flights after this time.

If you’re lucky, on a busy day you will see plane after plane with no more than half and hour or so without any action.

If you can can only get there at weekends, look out for any airshows which usually take place over weekends during the display season, which is between April and October each year.

I would highly recommend plane spotting at RAF Coningsby as a great day out, especially for aircraft enthusiasts of course!

RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
Lauren ready to see some fighter jets take off.
RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
Lined up ready for action.
RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
The closest we got to the planes.
RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
Lauren nervous of the patrol dogs.
Fighter Jet RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
A jet takes off and the sound is incredible.
Fighter Jet RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting
A jet flys directly over the campervan.

Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight History

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was started in 1957 at RAF Biggin Hill and was initially called the RAF Historic Aircraft Flight.

It was later renamed the Battle of Britain Flight before it finally became the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight in 1969.(BBMF)

Between 1959 and 1965 the flight only had one Spitfire and one Hurricane. Currently it has twelve flying aircraft – an Avro Lancaster, a C-47 Dakota, six Spitfires, two Hurricanes and two de Havilland Chipmunk training aircraft.

Funded by the Ministry of Defence, the BBMF is a regular RAF unit, crewed by service personnel.

The BBMF motto Lest We Forget truly embodies their mission.

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
The display list is updated daily.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
The huge RAF crest at the entrance.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
War memories and model planes.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
Lauren observing the treasures.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
Shrapnel from a Lancaster Bomber plane.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
The old uniforms and radios.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
The small museum at Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

What To Expect At The Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight

Once inside the hangar you will get up close to a well laid out display of iconic World War II aircraft including Spitfires, Hurricanes, Chipmunks, a Dakota and a world famous Lancaster Bomber.

These aircraft all belong to an aerial display group that fly over 100 displays and around 800 flypasts. All at various events each year in the UK, during the months from May to September.

You can see them flying at major airshows and also doing flypasts at special public and military events such as Trooping the Colour.

The mission of RAF BBMF is to ‘Maintain the priceless artefacts of our national heritage in airworthy condition in order to commemorate those who have fallen in the service of this country.’

You will be taken around the hangar by a knowledgeable guide who will often have first hand experience of the aircraft and lots of interesting stories to tell!

During the 90 minute tour you will also see the RAF BBMF technicians working and carrying out maintenance on the aircraft, making sure they are kept airworthy.

Once you have finished your tour, why not visit the gift shop to grab a little souvenir as well as some tea and cake from the Tea Bar.

The BBMF Visitor Centre is well worth a visit and knowing the reason why these historical old aircraft are still flying, makes it even more special.

Additionally, if you want to see some aircraft flying, there is a plane spotters car park just a few hundred metres from the Visitor Centre. You may get to see some Typhoons on their regular training flights.

Dakota c47 Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
The huge Dakota C47.
Spitfire Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
Taking a tour of the aircrafts.
Spitfire Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
One of a few Spitfires on site.
Spitfire Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
Lauren checking out the Spitfire.
Spitfire Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
A close up of a Spitfire putting it into perspective.
Lancaster Bomber Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
The famous Lancaster Bomber.
Lancaster Bomber Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
The planes at Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
A huge missile!
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Coningsby
The cafe at Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Where To Stay In Coningsby

Luxury

Petwood Hotel

Originally built in 1905, and surrounded by 30 acres of beautiful gardens, this former country house offers free Wi-Fi, free car parking, and log fires in the drawing room. It boasts a beauty and wellbeing studio, restaurant, terrace bar, as well as conference and banqueting facilities.

Rooms at the Petwood Hotel feature an en suite bathroom with a hairdryer. They also include a TV, radio, tea/coffee making facilities and some rooms have garden views.

The Restaurant serves fine cuisine influenced by locally sourced produce. The hotel famous for its RAF connection, was part of 617 Squadron in World War II.

You can visit the Squadron Bar to view memorabilia and tributes to the officers. The Squadron Bar is also available for private hire.

Mid-Budget

Holiday Home Breaks At Tattershall Lakes

Featuring garden views, Holiday Home Breaks At Tattershall Lakes offers accommodation with a private beach area and a balcony, around 24.2 miles from Lincoln University.

This property offers access to a terrace, ping-pong, free private parking and free WiFi. Guests have access to spa facilities, wellness packages and can also attend fitness classes.

The sustainable holiday park is located on the ground floor, with 3 bedrooms, a flat-screen TV with streaming services and a fully equipped kitchen that provides guests with an oven, a microwave, a washing machine, a toaster and a fridge.

A private entrance leads guests into the holiday park, where they can enjoy some wine or champagne and chocolates or cookies. This holiday park is allergy-free and non-smoking.

Budget

The Leagate Inn

Located just 24 miles outside of Lincoln, The Leagate is in the quiet village of Coningsby. Surrounded by countryside, this 16th century inn offers free parking on-site and free Wi-Fi access to all guests. It also has a bar and a restaurant.

Within the contemporary designed rooms of The Leagate, there is a TV, a work desk, tea and coffee making facilities and an en suite bathroom with complimentary toiletries.

The restaurant serves a full English breakfast and a continental breakfast in the mornings. In the evening, there are a variety of bar meals available to guests along with a wide range of beverages.

For more places to stay in Coningsby, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.

Planning Your Trip

Book Your Flight

Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight.

They search websites and airlines around the globe to find you the best possible routes and prices.

Book Your Accommodation

Use Booking.com to find the best accommodation deals.

They consistently return the cheapest rates on everything from guesthouses to hotels for all of your budget needs.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Use SafetyWing to find the best travel insurance for you.

They provide travel and medical incident insurance built specifically for digital nomads.

Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.

Book Your Tours & Activities

Use GetYourGuide to book your activities in advance.

They sell the best tours, excursions and activities to attractions around the world.

Conveniently book, download and access your tickets on the move all from your mobile.

Book Your Rental Car

Use RentalCars.com to find the best deals on rental cars in the area.

They compare all major car rental companies and allow you to easily book the perfect vehicle for your trip.

Buy Those Last Minute Bits

Use Amazon to buy everything you need for your adventure.

They offer next day delivery and you can use my travel packing checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.


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RAF Coningsby Plane Spotting