One other attraction nearby is Manston airfield, until a few years ago this was RAF Manston, but became a commercial airport now known variously as London Manston and more recently as Kent International Airport. However Planestation and who owned the airport went into Administration, as did EUJet who operated the passenger flights, and the airport was then sold to Infratil. In 2013 Infratil sold the airport to the Stagecoach Group headed by Ann Gloag for £1, she originally said she would continue to run it as an airport. However in 2014 they announced the closure of the airport and despite several attempts from other interested parties all offers even at the asking price were rejected and the airport is now closed with the loss of 150 jobs.
Thanet Council are being encouraged by a vociferous campaign group to use a Compulsory Purchase Order to buy the airport as many locals are convinced it is an important local asset for jobs and development of the area. It is believed that Ms Gloag thinks she can get planning permission for a huge housing estate on the site despite local objections and the well understood fact that jobs and other infrastructure to support such a development is not in place.
The Thanet Flying Club owned and operated by TG Aviation Ltd was based at the airport until the closure when they had to move their operation to Lydd despite having 50 years to run on their lease. They have an extensive fleet of aircraft, perhaps the most noticeable being their 1943 Boeing Stearman biplane painted bright red.
There are three museums on the site.
The RAF Manston Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum contains two beautifully restored examples of these two magnificent aircraft, along with many other exhibits.
Parking generally is not a problem and there is a small cafe attached to the Spitfire Museum!
Next door there is also the RAF Manston History Museum which is well worth a visit and contains much historical information about the airfield and many exhibits.
As yet it is not known what will happen to both the above museums as they are on airport owned land.
The third museum was the Manston Fire Museum which was situated in the old RAF Fire School Building inside the MOD compound. Sadly due to redevelopment at the Defence Fire Training & Development Centre the museum has had to close and its contents transferred to The Museum of RAF Firefighting at Scampton.
Just recently I have been told about a website which records the history of Invicta Airways based at Manston. So for an interesting read please visit www.invicta-airways.co.uk/
On the 2nd June 2002 there was a visit to Manston by a Swordfish from the Royal Navy Historic Flight as part of the commemoration of the Channel Dash. This operation took place in 1942 and was an attempt by Royal Navy Swordfish aircraft which took off from Manston in an abortive attempt to torpedo the German battlecruisers Gneisenau and Scharnhorst which had been sheltering in the French port of Brest prior to making a run up the English Channel. More photos here.
There was a visit by Spitfire Mk Vb AB910 of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight on 19th August 2002. This actual aircraft flew four sorties in support of the invasion of Dieppe (Operation Jubilee) 60 years ago to the day in 1942. This is also the aircraft which flew a circuit with a WRAF ground crew wrapped around the tail. More photos here.
On Wednesday 25th September 2002 the Dutch Constellation N749NL arrived at Manston on its way to Amsterdam. This Connie has been saved and will be fully restored and will then be flown on the airshow circuit in Europe. The Connie stayed until Saturday 28th September 2002. There are some more pictures of the Connie here.
On August 14th 2005 two aircraft from Historic Aircraft Collection visited Manston as part of their VJ Day celebrations. The aircraft were the Spitfire Mk Vb BM597 flown by their Chief Pilot Flt Lt Charlie Brown, and the Hurricane Mk XIIa flown by Air Vice Marshal Cliff Spink (Rtd). These two were joined on static display by the Spitfire Museum by the Stearman biplane of TG Aviation Ltd. More photos here.
On Easter Sunday & Monday 2007 the RAF Manston History Museum held their Wings & Wheels show. It was blessed with the best Easter weather we have had for a long time. I visited on the Monday to see what was going on, there were many military vehicles on show together with all the normal museum exhibits as well as exhibits from the Manston Fire Museum. Historic aircraft on static display were a DC3 (Dakota), Antonov AN-2, Harvard, 'Big Beautiful Doll' Mustang and 'Spirit of Kent' Spitfire. You could also book pleasure flights in another DC3 flying from the main airport terminal. Take a look at the selection of photos here.
On Sunday 14th September 2008 The RAF Manston Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum held a fly-in at which the Kent Spitfire did a display. The pilot Dan Griffiths gave a great display showing the Spitfire at its best. For more photos please go here.
On Sunday 24th May 2009 The RAF Manston Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum held a fly-in at which the Kent Spitfire did a display and the Red Arrows performed a fly-by after their disply at the Southend Airshow. For more photos please go here.
On Sunday 20th May 2010 The RAF Manston Spitfire and Hurricane Memorial Museum had their annual Open Day, The Spirit Of Kent Spitfire, Messerschmitt Bf 108, Harvard and the Manston based Stearman all flew displays during the day. There were lots of stalls and military vehicles, displays by the Ramsgate ATC band, and at the end of the afternoon the RAF Typhoon departed for the Southend Airshow right over the top of the crowds - noisy to say the least! For more photos please go here.
There are some more pictures taken at Manston here.