DEFENCE TRAINING ESTATE
Salisbury Plain Training Area (SPTA) can be found in central southern England. It is a vast area largely within Wiltshire which stretches into Hampshire. Not only is this area rich in archaeology and history with world famous sites such as Stonehenge, but thanks in part to the Ministry Of Defence, the plain is sparsely populated. This has proved nature a safe haven, where the habitat is largely undisturbed due to restricted access to the public, allowing the preservation of rare plants, insects and wildlife. The entire plain is a 'special protection area' for Birds, with other parts designated as 'special areas of conservation and 'sites of special scientific interest'.
The Military training area covers about half of Salisbury plain and was first used by the Army in 1898 for exercises. The MOD continued to purchase land here until World War II and is reported to now own 150 square miles of land, making it the largest training area within Great Britain. Some area are permanently closed to the public, with other areas heavily restricted. In 1943 the village of Imberand a nearby hamlet Par Hilton were evacuated to assist in training for the Battle of Normandy, which commenced with the D-Day landings on June 6th 1944. The village has remained closed since, but the Church is open to the public for an annual Church service and some bank holidays. This access allows a rare look into the training area where the military have adapted this small village to meet their evolving needs. This area is known as 'The Imber Ranges'.
Military camps within the plain include Tidworth, Larkhill, Bulford and Warminster, with nearby facilities including Middle Wallop, Boscombe Down all of which use the plain habitually. Larkhill, home to the Royal School of Artillery are reported to use the plain for live firing around 340 days a year.
Many exercises will take place on the plain both on the ground and in the air. Below you will find coverage of both helicopter and fixed wing aircraft that use the plain daily to train and exercise. You just never know what you are going to see.
Please click on the photos below for the various Aircraft types
Empire Test Pilots School
The Royal Air Force
C130 Grass Strip landings
The Royal Navy
Bell212 and Squirrel