The track of the big Airbus over Penarth at 2000 feet yesterday

The track of the big Airbus over Penarth at 1,950 feet and 124 knots yesterday (Image: FlightRadar24)

Local residents in Penarth probably can’t help but notice that an increasing number of large transport aircraft are now directly overflying St Augustine’s Church at altitudes of 2,000 feet – and sometimes below.

The aircraft – a mix of elderly civilian airliners and military freighters – are usually on their way to the increasingly-busy aviation maintenance facility  at the former RAF base at St Athan.

Under grey Penarth skies the 340 seater Airbus extends its undercarriage ready for touchdown at St Athan

Under grey Penarth skies the 347-seater Airbus has its undercarriage down over St Augustines Church ready for touchdown at St Athan

Lining up on the steeple of St Augustine’s Church – the highest landmark in the Vale of Glamorgan – gives the big planes an almost straight-in approach to St Athan’s Runway 26.

Slowly overflying the church yesterday at only 124 knots in low cloud at 1,950 feet was a 20-year-old Airbus A330-322 – registration CS-TRI – which  had taken off from Brussels and was on its way for maintenance at St Athan.

The big 347-passenger airliner – which is operated for an airline called Hi Fly –  touched down at St Athan at 14:30.

St Augustine’s Church was always a traditional landmark for mariners . Now it seems pilots too, find it a useful point of reference


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  1. AK says:

    I miss setting my watch to the pass of Concorde overhead !

    Nothing will surpass the farewell visit of the Vulcan at the summer festival. Do I recall correctly that there used to be one on the ground in a small aircraft museum at the airport ?

    • Fishhenge says:

      There was. Until around 2005 there was also a Phantom parked at the Llantwit end of the site but by 2007 that was gone.

  2. Martin Coffee says:

    On a more positive noted I’m pleased to see the work coming to the area.

  3. David Moorcraft says:

    So some aircraft are being maintained at St Athan (RAF ?) base , and also BA planes are being maintained in the giant hangar attached to Rhoose (Cardiff) airport ?
    Sounds like encouraging centres of expertise !
    (RAF St Athan was, during the war, the biggest RAF base in the U.K. , plus Llandow.)

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