Caernarfon Airport

Caernarfon Airport (photo by Matt)

There was a lot of buzz surrounding Caernarfon Airport in the early 2000’s. With a government report being published trumpeting the viability of commercial flights from Caernarfon to Cardiff, and a new owner committed to investing in the airport, things were looking up for an air connection between the two cities. Within two years, however, the flights were no longer being advertised leaving it irrelevant to all but amateur pilots and transport enthusiasts.

They do, however, offer pleasure flights affording spectacular views of Anglesey and the Menai Strait with prices starting at just £45 per person for a fly over Caernarfon Castle. Alternatively, you can pay to fly in the other direction and take a sweep past Mount Snowdon for just £65 per person.

Nowadays, if you’re looking to fly between North and South Wales your best option is the Cardiff to Anglesey service which takes just over an hour. It’s run by an Isle of Man based service called Manx 2, departing an average of once a day and at the time of writing cost around £60 one-way. As such, they compare favourably to rail and road transport in terms of both cost and time efficiency.

For tourists visiting the Caernarfon area and with an interest in aviation, the site does host a large cafe, visitor centre and shop as part of its Air World Aviation Museum. It features planes and helicopters recovered from the now defunct RAF Llandwrog air base and explains the history of the first RAF Mountain Rescue Team which was formed here in the first half of the 20th Century. Housed in a large aircraft hangar, you’ll be given the opportunity to walk around large retired aircraft and try your hand at a Varsity flight training simulator. There are also old aircraft engines, ejector seats, and even a large collection of model aircraft.

Those with a fascination for the story of the Dambusters will find plenty of material related to that part of British history, as well as a cinema which is well-stocked with aviation films from throughout the 20th-century. Smaller children might enjoy the adventure playground near the museum, built out of and around a Dragonfly helicopter.

In the summer, spring and autumn the museum is open daily from 9.00am to 5.30pm. Throughout the winter it opens by request and dependent upon the weather, so if you are hoping to visit between Novemeber and February it is probably best to ring ahead. The cost is £4.00 for an adult, £2.50 for a child and £11.00 for a family ticket admitting two adults and two children. Similarly, the restaurant is only open “in season” and enquiries should be made before visiting in the winter months.

Generally speaking, in the summer the airport is a pleasant tourist attraction if you like museums or have an interest in aviation. If you have the money to pay for a pleasure flight then that could potentially provide you with the best views you could ever hope to have of the North Wales countryside. If you’re hoping to visit in winter, however, you may need to call ahead and prepare to change your plans, and if you’re hoping to fly from Cardiff to North Wales a more realistic option would be Isle of Anglesey Airport.