Hong Kong

Hong Kong Aviation Club

Slingsby Firefly "SB" at Kai Tak (c. 1993)

The Hong Kong Aviation Club (Sung Wong Toi Road, Kowloon, tel: +852-2711 5555, fax: +852-2761 9511) was formed as a result of a merger between the Aero Club and the Flying Club many years ago. Only dual flights are permitted for visitors, but it’s still well worth the effort for the wonderful views!

Unless you’re a member of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) or the Government Flying Service, this is the only way to fly in Hong Kong. For many years the club operated successfully at the famous Kai Tak Airport (VHHH), in amongst the heavy airliners. As Kai Tak became saturated in the early 1990s, restrictions were gradually imposed on the club’s operations by the Civil Aviation Department, and the club eventually became restricted to only one slot a day at Kai Tak.

Wilson Au-Yeung after his first solo at Sek Kong
Wilson Au-Yeung after his first solo at Sek Kong
The other airfield in Hong Kong is Sek Kong in the New Territories. Spitfires and Hunters operated here after WWII and the RAF continued to occupy and maintain the airfield until the hand over in 1997. With the influx of Vietnamese Boat People to Hong Kong in the 1980’s, a temporary camp was set up on the (newly-refurbished) runway and so Sek Kong became unavailable for a number of years. In 1992 the camp was cleared and flying resumed at Sek Kong. Obviously the club took full advantage of this and most flying from 1993 to 1997 took place at Sek Kong.

The hand over of Hong Kong back to the Chinese in July 1997 brought more changes. The PLA flew in their small fleet of helicopters to Sek Kong and imposed further restrictions on the club. Flights may now only take place at weekends and must be booked by the preceding Wednesday. This is a great shame, but with new airports opening at Zhouhai, Macau, and Shenzhen, the club is looking at other options for the future. Kai Tak itself closed in 1998 on the day that the new airport, Chek Lap Kok, opened.

Where to Fly

A Cathay Pacific L-1011 Tristar turning finals on runway 13 at Kai Tak (c. 1989)
A Cathay Pacific L-1011 Tristar turning finals on runway 13 at Kai Tak (c. 1989)

The club’s fleet consists of a C152, an Aerobat, three C172s, a C182 and a pair of aerobatic Slingsby Fireflys. Flying isn’t cheap (fuel tax is very high in Hong Kong), with rates for the C152 starting at around HK$1100 (US$140) an hour. In exchange for your hard-earned money, though, you will experience the magnificent views of Hong Kong from the air. A typical sight-seeing flight will take you from Sek Kong out to the East around the coast of the New Territories, from there towards Hong Kong harbour and Hong Kong Island then back North towards Sek Kong. A flight down the harbour at 500 feet, quite a long way below the tops of the skyscrapers, is quite spectacular. Take plenty of camera film, you’ll need it!

A Virgin Atlantic A340-300 passing the checkerboard for runway 13 at Kai Tak (c.1995)
A Virgin Atlantic A340-300 passing the checkerboard for runway 13 at Kai Tak (c.1995)

With all the restrictions on light aviation in Hong Kong at the moment, it would be wise to book well ahead if you’re planning to fly while you’re there. The full time instructor is Peter Wells, and he’ll be able to give you the latest information and prices.

Short finals to runwaw 13 with Lion Rock in the background
Short finals to runwaw 13 with Lion Rock in the background

10 Replies to “Hong Kong”

  1. Hi Chris Parker, few years ago I saw on this webpage a picture op a Transmeriadian Hong Kong CL44 at KaiTak, taken from a very high angle, do you still have that image ?

    Would like to show it on my webpage and maybe in my book on the CL44?

    Do you have more pics of the CL44 ?

    Many thanks Great life you have !


  2. Hello, I have visited this site a few times. You have completed an excellent job on describing the HKFC. It is a terrific precis to add to the Nine Dragons Airport book by Chas Eather. Do you have an update now that Chep Lap Kok has been operational for some years now? DonL

  3. Just wondering if there’s a photo of the Piper PA28-140 that the aero club had in the mid 70s as that’s what I took my flying lessons in at Kai Tak.

  4. Unfortunately my log book is packed away in storage at the moment but the reg might be VR-HGB. Think the aircraft was orange/white colour scheme.

  5. It was before my time (apart from a short visit in the 70’s) and I can’t see anything in Google Images. You’ll have to dig out your slide collection!

  6. Good stuff there Chris! When I was AOC Hong Kong from 1989 to 1991 I loved flying the Wessex with 28 Sqn and them trying to catch me out with landing practice on hospital football pitches and tiny ledges. I later applied in 1992 for the job of running the GFS but soon realised they wanted a “yes” man. I believe they got one!

    I still pop over to HK now and again but it’s not quite like the old days.

  7. I was a PPL member for a few months in 1992 when I was working in HK mid world travels. Your page took me back to those happy and scary times slotting in a 172 landing between two 747s. Air traffic’s most common used word appeared to be ‘expedite’. It had to happen but was a sad day when Kai Tak closed. It’s just not the same arriving into HK now and not getting hit by the really bad whiff that seemed to hang around that part of the city!

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