Saturday, 23 April 2016
Exeter Airport Experience 
A Journey Into the Unknown
For fbb, the airport has just been a sign at the Nine Oaks junction on the A3052 between Seaton and Exeter, but last week your author was picking up Mrs fbb's lifelong (well sixty-years-long) friend, Jean, who lives in a remote bit of Dunfries and Galloway.
Last Monday Jean had cadged a lift to Ayr, caught a train to Paisley, a bus to Glasgow Airport and a Flybe flight to Exeter, landing time 1220.
One of Mrs fbb's "knit and natter" chums had advised that it was all very laid back and "you can drive right up to the terminal building".
In your dreams, madam! You could, even as recently as the visit by Google Streetview's noddy car ...
... when there was a free pick-up and drop off point near the entrance. But no longer.
Fortunately fbb had done a bit of research and arrived early enough to "case the joint" and make some policy decisions.
But before we get to today, let's look back at the beginning. The first publicity for the "airport" was issued in 1936.
It looked really impressive for the time.
Except for the important fact that it hadn't yet been built! The airport did open in 1937, and was completed in 1938 with a lavish terminal building ...
... a hangar and a line of petrol pumps.
All very top of the range for 1938.
Exeter Airport was opened on 31 May 1937 and operated from a "tented" terminal before the permanent buildings were complete. Jersey Airlines immediately inaugurated a summer service of eight flights per week from Jersey in de Havilland DH.84 Dragons. Railway Air Services ran connecting flights on to Plymouth and Bristol.
A new terminal building came in 1950 as the site morphed from wartime fighter base back into civil airport.
This aerial view shows the extent of the area occupied in 1944.
You need to rotate the above picture about 30 degrees to the right to match today's aerial view (click on the image to enlarge it) but it is obvious that the main runway has nearly doubled in length.
The terminal and ancillary stuff are in roughly the same place (centre right in the 1944 shot, bottom centre today). The runway was long enough to be used for test flights for Concorde.
The site has been under continuous development since with major terminal improvements in the 1980s and again in the early 2000s.
But airports are now very scary places, and even humble Exeter needs careful treatment. To pick up Jean, fbb evolved a cunning plan. Lurk in a Motel car park nearby ...
... wait for Jean to escape from the clutches of the airport and nip round to pick her up from somewhere sensible. A txt from Jean to the good lady wife would summon the chauffeur. A good plan, but Sparex was not a chain of airport motels, but a firm selling parts for tractors!
Despite the temptation to stock up with "an extensive range of cable types and manufacturers", fbb's plan was unravelling. Mrs fbb did not hear her phone go plinky plonk, so the text was received after the meet-and-greet. But the interwebnet came to his rescue as, whilst lurking furtively in the home of all that was good for tractors, fbb was able to spot that Jean had landed (as had her plane) and would soon be exiting the exciting terminal.
So where and how did fbb overcome the lack of direct access to the terminal building?
Well, that's another story.
Again there was pre-consultation of the airport's web site.
It was all very straightforward - NOT.
fbb was not inspired. fbb did not want 2 go there.
He did not want to go shopping; he did not want to eat or drink; he had no real need of the executive lounge. Neither was he ready to buy pots, pans or bedding from Lakeland.
All your chubby blogger wanted to do was to find out where and how to pick up Jean.
Next airport blog : Sunday 24th April