Visiting Aircraft Brief

Bicester Airfield is strictly PPR only

Contact Dave Watt (CFI, 07721 881600) in the first instance for PPR instructions / advice. If not available, then consider calling the office (01869 252493) who may be able to help you.


Bicester Airfield is a grass airfield with 7 day-a-week intensive gliding operations including winch launching to 3,000 ft and Aerotow.

Main landing directions are 06/24, 13/31, 18/36. These are not marked runways but general landing directions on the grass. Aerial view showing the runways. Each run is approximately 1100 metres in length.

Due to the nature of the flying operations the Airfield is strictly PPR, with absolutely no overhead joins - we launch with about 1200 - 2000' of steel cable hanging below the glider, and cables lying on the ground the length of the airfield.

Visiting power pilots should read these extracts from the Flying Information Book.


Noise Abatement Procedures

Click the image for a bigger, clearer version.

Aim to pass left of the main hangar then turn right on to heading 300, keeping Bicester town to your left.

Turn 45 degrees right or left after take-off to avoid Caversfield House and the stables. Low powered aircraft are advised to climb straight ahead and then turn right on to heading 360.
Note: Engine failure options are severely limited in these directions.

Turn to heading 130 after takeoff to avoid Launton village or turn to heading 200 to pass between Launton and Bicester (following the ring road).

RUNWAYS 36 and 06
Avoid the village of Stratton Audley.


General concept of radio use.

Because Bicester is essentially non-radio and we are not permitted to give instructions, we will normally either not respond, or will respond with information only, to calls from visiting powered aircraft. Our frequency, 129.97, is not operated to ICAO standards.

For example, in response to an aircraft calling inbound to land, ‘ …roger landing direction 24, winch launching in progress’ might be made.
A call of ‘G-XXXX downwind/finals’ will not receive any response unless pressing relevant information needs to be imparted.
Similarly,’G-XXX ready for departure’ would normally not get a response. However, if there was an imminent launch, and the radio was manned at the time, a response such as ‘G-XXXX, we have a glider about to launch’ would be made.


Please do not make the dangerous mistake of joining and flying the circuit as you would a ‘normal’ airfield.
Assume that winch launching is taking place at all times. This means that you must NEVER MAKE OVERHEAD JOINS.
Please understand that the ‘runways‘ at Bicester are actually unmarked and are better described as large landing areas. All the area inside the perimeter track is landable.

When visiting, please do not fly closer than an imaginary circle centred at the middle of the airfield and about 500meters wider than the perimeter track. This will ensure that you are well clear of any winch launching. The first time you cross inside the circle should be no earlier than the base leg.

Please inspect the airfield as required from outside the circle, before making your approach. Most problems arise from pilots not being aware of the alignment of the active winch run. LOOK FOR AND ORIENTATE YOURSELF WITH THE WINCH AND THE LAUNCH POINT. YOU MUST LAND PARALLEL WITH THIS. (The winch is small and difficult to see.)

Left or right hand circuits are available, but be aware that after landing you must assume that winch cables are laid out from the area of the launch point to the winch and must not be crossed at any time. For this reason please think carefully about which side of the cables you end up on, or you will have to taxi all the way round the back of the launch point to get to the dispersal.

Because gliders and tugs may be expected from all directions and heights in the vicinity of the airfield, there is no set circuit procedure or height. (Almost all gliding operations involve a continuous descent in the circuit.) For this reason LOOKOUT must be the overriding priority as you manoeuvre to enter the circle on base leg or finals.

Extend, curtail and vary your circuit to give way to gliders. Use the width and length of the landing areas to avoid landing close to other landing gliders.

Do not cross over to the other side of the launch point on base leg. I.e. Left hand circuit - land to the left of the launch point, and vica versa

If you have to go around, consider making a turn of about 15 degrees as soon as possible to diverge from the winch run.

As a general rule, fly slowly in the circuit.

Sometimes there may be no winch launching at all, in which case land anywhere on the grass in the landing direction in use.



Before getting into your aircraft make sure that you know the airfield layout, i.e. where the winch launch point is, where the aerotow launch point is and where the winch is.

Keep a good lookout and taxy out well away from the winch run. (Remember that the cables do not always lie exactly from the winch launch point to the winch.)

Do your checks and ground run either near the perimeter track and away from landing areas, or behind and in line with the launch point.

When you are ready for departure, check it is clear, and taxy to a take off position that gives you a good view of the launch point activity. Call ‘G ABCD ready for departure.’ (If the Duty Instructor is manning the radio at the time and has any information for you, you MAY get a response).

Ensure that it is completely safe to take off, by a thorough lookout. Look specifically for a glider with its wings level at the side of the launch point which indicates an imminent launch. Look for gliders coming from ALL directions.

NB No response on the radio means that you may take off entirely at your own risk. Please do not interpret a nil response as an indication that it is safe to take off, that is your responsibility.

If you are satisfied that it is safe then take off without delay.
Consider taking off on a slightly diverging track to the winch run. Be aware that if you catch a cable on take off, the result will almost certainly be a catastrophic accident.