Pilot reviews of Gigha Airfield
31 Aug 10 - Stephen Nuttall - 0.5 NM North of HMS Nightjar
|“||Visited Gigha on Monday 30 August to walk the greyhounds – they love a change of scenery now and then! Now here is the spooky bit. One year ago almost to the day, we went to Great Massingham – a VERY quiet, unmanned airfield in the middle of nowhere and were parked next to the only other aircraft there, a Warrior from Sherburn Aero Club. At Gigha, a VERY quiet, unmanned airfield in the middle of nowhere, we came back to the airfield and were parked next to…… A Warrior from Sherburn Aero Club. Are they following me……? (And they were parked next to me earlier in the month at North Coates too!)
Anyway, Gigha – what can I say? The marking for the airfield may look poor, but Gigha is still a great destination. PPR is essential to ensure that sheep are moved off the runway – but see further on….! The airstrip has one heck of a slope from 07 end to the 25 end, especially at the beginning (as the guides tell you). What they didn’t tell you was just how BUMPY the strip was. It isn’t mown, the sheep keep the grass down, and it is marsh grass growing in clumps (hence the bumps). And when we departed, we couldn’t quite use the whole length as the sheep were still in the field and using the last 50 metres of 07…….! Acceleration was poor, and we needed most of the strip, but it wasn’t too fraught. It just brought back all those lessons from long ago on acceleration/deceleration properties of various lengths of grass.
Finding the airfield was easy enough – just aim for the wind-turbines and the airfield is a few hundred metres to the south. Use safety-comm (don’t forget to state which airfield you are using – we could hear traffic at Castle Kennedy, over 50 miles away very clearly, even whilst we were at circuit height). Be careful parking – the AFE guide said follow the mown route to the parking apron, but none of it had been mown (except by sheep), and we took a good look before taxiing between two boulders very gingerly!
There are NO facilities at the airstrip, however, we had taken a picnic and the views from the strip, (Mull of Kintyre, Islay, Jura, Rathlin Island and the Northern Ireland mountains behind Fair Head), were absolutely spectacular. If you aren’t impressed by this view, you have no soul. (Or it’s foggy). We walked into Ardminish and paid our landing fees (£15.00 – the note at the strip said £20 – AFE said £15) and sat outside having a cool soft-drink. The hotel does B&B and will collect you from the airfield if you are staying over. Ardminish is a very pretty hamlet (village would be over-stating the case), but has a pub, restaurant, several B&B’s a store (selling fuel, cakes, gas, chocolate, ice-cream, bike hire, etc, etc). The shoreline is lovely – clean beaches and clear water – looks better than the Bahamas. There is one road on the island, north to south and was fairly busy considering that there really aren’t that many places to go to.
That’s enough of the travel guide. I love the Western Isles and Gigha is a very walk-able island with an airstrip. The strip needs to be handled with care and forethought, but is plenty long enough (even with the sheep-displaced threshold!) – just take care and keep the weight off the nosewheel! I will be going back – if only to sample the views once more.
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