A weekend in Liverpool

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My co-owner Rich and I had agreed to take our wives for a weekend away in our TB20 aircraft from Gloucester, intending somewhere in Northern France. The colder winter weather constrained our options – with freezing temperatures close to ground level and cloud/rain to the south, east and west, the only sensible route was north – and we decided on Liverpool. The relatively short flight was still long enough to justify one, and we could choose to fly both ways IFR with approach practice at both ends. Very strong northerly winds were the greatest concern.

There is mandatory handling required at Liverpool which must be booked in advance. A quick call sorted that out. Landing and handling fees make this one of the more pricey airports to visit in the UK.

Outbound Leg

Rich opted to fly the outbound leg and we took off into a very strong headwind (approx 20 knots, rising to 40 at altitude). At FL80, the outside temp was down to -14C. Progress was slow but our speed varied quite a bit due to mountain wave, which caused us to appear to climb and descend in order to remain at the same altitude. This affected our ground speed which fluctuated between about 85 and 120 knots, but we didn’t find it turbulent at all and the passengers didn’t even notice.

FL80 clear skies

On first contact, Liverpool Radar advised us we were #3 in the approach sequence behind a couple of EasyJet airliners and sidelined us off to KEGUN to the south west of the field. I radioed the handling agents on their private frequency to advise them we were inbound, and they said they’d ensure a taxi was awaiting us on landing.

We were vectored around to delay for sequencing (I wouldn’t say it was a hold pattern), then north around the field to intercept the localiser for runway 27. It took the controller a few minutes to realise that the 40 knot northerly wind meant we needed quite a large drift angle to compensate. I think they must just be used to vectoring the faster heavy metal airliners.

Crosswind on final was strong (12 gusting 24) but Rich did an admirable job and made a remarkably clean touchdown. He later said that with one strong gust almost at touchdown he was close to going around, but with 2 miles of runway there was plenty of room to try again. We taxied around to the GA apron where our handler was awaiting to marshall us into parking. We were driven the 20 yards to the handling office, availed ourselves of the toilet facilities, were offered all sorts of freebie drinks/snacks, and quickly left in the taxi. Handling does have its advantages even if it seems greatly over-the-top and overpriced.

Final ILS27 Liverpool – Runway is directly above right hand far edge of the compass
Liverpool terminal
Liverpool terminal from the runway

Outbound flight
IFR outbound route flown. (Airways chart mode)

Liverpool City Centre

Liverpool city centre seems much like any other large UK city with shopping centres and Christmas market stalls busy with custom. We walked around both of the huge Cathedrals, each quite different, and around the Albert Dock but didn’t have time to take the ferry across the Mersey or visit the Beatles museums.

Central Liverpool
Central Liverpool
Liverpool Chinatown
Liverpool Chinatown
Outside Cathedral
Outside Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
Liverpool Cathedral
Inside Liverpool Anglican Cathedral
Liverpool Roman Catholic Cathedral
Inside the WigWam – Liverpool Roman Catholic Cathedral

Return Trip

My leg home was to be much easier, with little wind to worry about and I opted for a VFR departure. There were some rain clouds in the distance but were far enough away not to be a threat. Ground gave me startup permission and then my VFR clearance – via Oulton Park not above 1500 feet. Once clear, I climbed through a hole in the cloud layer up to 5000 feet into glorious sunshine.

I debated whether to drop down and make a VFR approach into Gloucester, but with cloud at various levels decided to make the RNAV approach under autopilot. Gloucester ATC accommodated that without any need for PPR or slot booking alongside others making the same request as well as VFR circuit traffic. I’ve used the RNAV approach quite a few times now and it worked like clockwork.

Flight log
Flight log Liverpool to Gloucester

PIC time: 1:05
Total PIC: 326:25
Total Time: 460:35


  1. I had a feeling Liverpool may be pricey (like Birmingham). Out of interest, what was your routing there doing it under IFR?? It may be a route for me quite soon!!

    1. The filed route was trivial and we were tactically routed west of Birmingham, then towards KEGUN to give priority to the airline traffic. As you can see above, then vectored around to the north (keeping us clear of departing Manchester traffic), which gave us good views of the city.

  2. You’ll probably find you landed on runway 27 😉

    Liverpool’s pricey to visit but a wonderful place to be based at – I’m part of the G-NATT group there. H24, full instrument approaches off both ends of the runway, controllers that know what they’re doing – I can assure you that they’re normally very good at handling small aircraft as well as passenger tubes – and reasonable prices for based light aircraft.

    The controllers deal with a large proportion of light aircraft movements, with two training schools and Ravenair doing charter work and surveys and all sorts, along with a good number of based aircraft. A grass strip it ain’t, but it’s rare to be held up for long by commercial traffic and operating in class D with full ATC certainly keeps you sharp 🙂

    1. Given the strong crosswind, I think maybe Runway 24 or 30 could have been a more apt description 😉
      But I’ve corrected the error. THanks for speaking up for Liverpool, there does seem to be a good mix of traffic and is just disappointing that prices for visitors are so high. I understand that based aircraft don’t pay anything like as much; so it’s somewhat like Bristol but cheaper.

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