Both my kids love planes. Before he was 1, my son saw a soft toy in a petrol station while we were fueling the car and he fell in love with the toy: it was a blue airplane from the movie “Planes” (which we’ve never seen actually). And when we moved to London, he kept showing us the planes in the sky as obviously there are plenty going across London.
When my daughter started using her index finger to point out things, the first things she would point were the planes in the sky. And when the grandparents came to visit, she asked them to draw planes for her with every occasion she got (indeed my father draws pretty nice airplanes). And since she started drawing, she draws… planes, of course!
So yesterday, while having lunch, an idea came to their minds: why don’t we go to see the airplanes landing and taking off? Let’s go to London City Airport!
I wasn’t ready for this, it was not what I had in mind for a cloudy windy rainy day like it was yesterday morning. On the other hand, I too wanted to go out with them and I knew all museums and indoor spaces would be really crowded because of the “holiday + cold day” combo… While at the airport you are outdoors though being protected from wind or rain, need be, and it is quite fun… So yeah, why not? Let’s go!
Wind check (will tell you later where and why), water bottles, backpack, some melon and cereal bars, helmets, scooters, and off we go! It took us about 1 hour to get there by train to London Bridge, underground (Jubilee Line) to Canning Town and DRL to London City Airport.
We have been there several times before (maybe 7?) so we knew our way around the airport. The thing is you cannot see the planes from inside the airport (unless you have tickets I mean) but you get a great view from around the car park: after getting off the DLR, you head towards the airport entrance, go pass by it, and head to the car park (or car rentals if you want to follow arrows). And this is how you get to this area which has a great view of take offs and landings, protects you from wind and rain and offers the kids a great area to run or ride their scooters (when it’s not crowded, of course). So, on the left there are the water and the plane tracks, and on the right there is the car park.
One important thing you might want to check before you take a trip to see the planes: the wind. Depending on its direction, the planes can take off towards the airport building (which is really fun) or from the airport building (which is not that exciting as you can hardly see anything). And planes take off and land against the wind. Therefore, since the airport track is built from west to east, if the wind blows from the west you get to see the fun take offs. I usually check the wind direction on windy.com.
Below are 3 photos taken as we arrived in the area: the planes speeds up, you can hear its engines, and then the front wheel is lifted off the ground and yey! The plane took off!
And then, if you look towards east, you might see a plane getting ready to land. In the next 3 photos you can see (well, hardly see in the first one) a plane landing.
And another one is heading to the end of the track planning to take off.
Then turns around and speeds up.
And this is my son, watching every move the plane does. We were heading back to the DLR but we would still stop on our way to see planes taking off. This was a really fun afternoon as we spent there around an hour and a half.
In my opinion, this is a lovely idea for a day out with kids in London: it’s independent of the weather, kids love the experience, it’s not crowded and you can see many planes in action (I think we saw 7 taking off and 3 landing or something like this) – you can easily check to see when more planes land or take off, just by visiting London City Airport website.
Have you ever been there or are you thinking of going? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!