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Thursday, 24 Sep 2020

Gliding at Bicester Airfield ‘will continue’ despite club moving out

The all-grass Bicester airfield, one of England’s oldest and best preserved RAF sites, is being developed by Bicester Motion, a subsidiary of?Bicester Heritage, which has created a classic car industry hub in the restored ex-RAF buildings.

Geoghegan insists the gliding club could have stayed, but ‘never entered into any formal engagement, instead making a swift and resolute decision to not take up our offer to continue its activities’.

However, Andrew Reid, Acting Chairman of Windrushers Gliding Club tells Pilot a very different story.

According to Reid, “Windrushers Gliding Club moved out of Bicester because, in December 2019 – and just a year after a six year lease had been signed – Bicester Motion gave notice that its lease was to be terminated with effect from the end of July 2020.

“This was a great shock to the club, particularly as it had, in good faith, spent a large sum of money fitting out new premises before the lease had even been signed. Requests to extend the lease for a period of renegotiation were ignored and no terms for a new lease were offered.

“Bicester Motion said it would operate the airfield and would require the club to book in advance for the days on which it wished to fly. As gliding is very much predicated by the weather, this alone would make operation unviable.”

The club took legal advice and eventually, “with great regret”, accepted that it had no alternative but to vacate on 30 June, ending 64 years of intensive gliding activity at Bicester.

A small number of private glider owners remain at the site, aerotowing from two compromised, designated runways until 31 March next year.

“An unintended, but completely foreseeable side-effect of changing from the historic, omni-directional layout to designated runways has been an increase in noise complaints from neighbouring villages,” observes Reid.

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Fri 25 Sep
adrian Hayward This is sadly a growing trend where aviation is being moved out of Historic sites to serve non aviation purposes. I tend to side with the Windrushers Club in their being railroaded out to make way for a motor sport centre. I have many happy memories there
Fri 25 Sep
Ed Matthews So which gliding club is it that will be operating this, given that in regulatory terms it must happen under the aegis of the BGA? It's a wonderful airfield, but the car lot would never get that, so I left PDQ.
Sun 27 Sep
stephen coles As the view of the Hangars was 'listed' , I wonder if the Council could have made the activity of Gliding a 'listed' activity at Bicester. How could they allow this to happen?
Sun 27 Sep
stephen coles Turweston allows a range of Motoring interests to race up and down the Runway. A shame that is not reciprocated. Whatever their protestations now, it is obvious the car people pretty much kicked gliding out of Bicester.
Sun 27 Sep
Bob Holden-Rushworth I learned to fly at RAF Bicester in 1972,under Andy Gough and I am sure he would not have let this happen. Sad days indeed when one group pushes out another.
Sun 27 Sep
John Allen "Money talks" I'm afraid in addition to the fact that this country is not aviation minded.
Wed 30 Sep
Antony Alcock I totaly agree with others comments , it will be a very SAD day if flying activities were ceased at Bicester , which i feer will eventualy happen. Antony Alcock.
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