Bicester Heritage: Sunday Scramble

The cabin heating finally came on for this flight. IMG_0079 (RIAT App)

I flew into Bicester aerodrome for the final Bicester Heritage Sunday Scramble meet of 2018. The morning was crisp and clear and a reminder that summer has definitely left us (I need to buy suitable flying gloves!).

Flying into Bicester definitely has its planning challenges if you haven’t been to a gliding site before; notably making sure that you get the right information out of people to make your arrival safe. Bicester is a busy gliding airfield and all normal ops revolve around 3000ft of steel cable being dragged along the grass. As this was my first visit to a true gliding field I really wanted to make sure I didn’t cock up.

Elaine at Bicester Heritage gave me a comprehensive email detailing what to expect, along with various diagrams that are available on the Bicester website detailing exactly where powered aircraft should land in respect of the gliding equipment and wind direction.

A quick call at 0830 to the Gliding Club confirmed their direction of operations and we set off at 0835.

Our route hugged the Brize CTR, squawking 3727 on 119.0 until Burford, when we spotted some balloons lifting from a field (one of which appeared on my poor man’s TCAS, pictured right) so headed off to get a closer look at them.

By this time the cabin heat was working a treat and we had warmed up nicely, covering around 130kts across the ground. It was a great morning to be flying so we had a good look at many of the large estates in the area North of Burford and Witney. The only downside to the RV is having to get the wing down a long way to check out anything on the ground.

 

We held over Upper Heyford for a few minutes to meet the first arrival time of 0900. Overhead joins are not allowed, so I flew a wide, two mile circuit and joined downwind for a northerly arrival, calling finals on 129.975.

The ground at Bicester is solid and there was no sign of any dampness, as it had rained a lot the day before. The only things to catch you out are the gentle undulations that threw us into the air quite early (there is a theme here with me, RVs and getting airborne too early). Upon landing somebody in the gliding bus called me on the radio to say that the cable was not yet laid out so I could taxi straight across the field to park at the powered aircraft parking spot. Two helpful marshallers got us into position next to the joyride Tiger Moths. The aircraft parking was thankfully separated from the cars by a rope barrier to keep prying hands and eyes away!

We paid the £10 landing fee with the gliding club and had a pretty straightforward visit, admiring some lovely cars around the Bicester Heritage site. You can read my fuller Bicester Heritage report here.

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