Bicester Aerodrome Company to manage historic airfield

Bicester Aerodrome

The Bicester Aerodrome Company has been launched to manage future aviation operations at the Oxfordshire airfield. The company replaces Bicester Gliding Club – formerly Windrushers – which has moved out after failing to agree an ongoing deal.

The former RAF airfield, one of England’s oldest and best preserved, is being developed by Bicester Motion, itself a development of Bicester Heritage which created a classic car industry hub in the restored ex-RAF buildings.

“Our intention is to ensure a viable, dynamic and accessible future for our historic airfield,” said Dan Geoghegan, managing director of Bicester Motion.

“We will maintain glider and powered flight whilst aligning with Bicester Motion’s vision to sustain the operation of past, present and future aviation technology.

“RAF Bicester was a state of the art airfield in its day, and we hope to continue with that pioneering spirit firmly in mind.”

Bicester Motion

Some of the team at Bicester Motion which plans to continue aviation at the historic airfield

Bicester Motion insists the gliding club could have stayed.

“We suggested a flexible approach to allow them to remain at the airfield and build a sustainable business model. The club never entered into any formal engagement, instead making a swift and resolute decision to not take up our offer to continue its activities, which was a sad result,” said Bicester Motion in a statement.

“We are committed to maintaining flying at Bicester Motion and look forward to welcoming gliders and powered aircraft to the skies from today, now that The Bicester Aerodrome Company is in charge of air operations.”

Bicester Aerodrome

Bicester Aerodrome is the best preserved WWII bomber station left in the UK but many of its buildings were in poor state before Bicester Heritage took over. It’s now a centre of excellence for historic motoring. Photos: Bicester Motion

Bicester Heritage has transformed more than 50 historic buildings on the site, creating a centre of excellence for classic motoring with technical services, car restoration and supplies. It is also the new home of Motorsport UK, the governing body of motor sport in the UK.

The airfield dates back to 1916 when it was known as RFC Bicester, then became RAF Bicester. It is the best-preserved WWII bomber airfield of its kind in the UK.

“The aerodrome is a crucial component of the larger project that is Bicester Motion, a tourism destination that celebrates the innovation, culture, and technology surrounding mobility,” continued Geoghegan.

Bicester Motion hopes to encourage companies exploring new aviation technology, all-electric passenger flights and the use of drones, along with the more traditional forms of air travel, to use the airfield. This future would safeguard flying as part of the masterplan to regenerate the 444-acre site.

Bicester Aerodrome Company



  • John Wright says:

    One of Bicester Motion’s big long-running claims was “the gliding club wants exclusive use of the airfield”

    The club has never had exclusive use, it shared the airfield with:
    The powered aircraft in the hangar
    Some microlights
    The tiger moth commercial flying group
    The fishing club for access to their pond
    The model flyers club
    The military vehicle driving experience group who drive round the peritrack
    Film companies using it for flying scenes and other things – the site is recognisable in Stardust in a horse and carriage scene, among others.
    Kite surfers (they moved to a coastal site eventually, however)
    Dog walkers – who were eventually banned by BM
    BM’s own big events – new car model launches, auctions, rallies, that sort of thing
    BM’s Sunday scrambles

    A more recent claim was that the club was struggling with Covid-19 problems making the trial flights difficult to deliver and had to close.

    Except the lease was cancelled at the end of 2019, with six months notice. Before covid-19 was properly recognised, before it even had a name, before the danger was understood.

    Then there’s BM’s “commitment to aviation” – which involves putting buildings everywhere around the airfield for car storage, manufacturers displays, building a hotel, building a track that uses the top third of the airfield and reducing the number of runways.

    And BM also says they took over a disused airfield – that will be the place where gliding has taken place since 1956, seven days a week when the weather cooperated, for the last 64 years…

    They were so rigid in their plan that when covid-19 restrictions made it tricky to get members out to the club to move equipment away, they wouldn’t extend the deadline!

    And if you criticise them on their facebook page they just delete the comments, rather than discuss things. This is one of the few places critical comments don’t get deleted. Let’s hope it stays that way.

  • Oliver Hooton says:

    Given all of the well reasoned views here do the Flyer team think that, perhaps, a review of the article and the circumstances may be in order? Be interesting to hear from the author what his feelings about this are.

  • Mario says:

    I’ve noticed BH keep removing any posts from their social media that point out the realities and fact behind the move.

    One I found in particularly powerful was one gentleman who was holding them to account following the detailed aviation and gliding history that has taken place there for nearly 70 years. And his dad was the commanding officer. Even his post was much for Heritage..

    It’s all propaganda.

  • Andy Gough says:

    Mario said: It’s all propaganda.

    Damn right!

    Bicester Motion is first and foremost a property development business. Its primary focus is automotive, mainly a display business open to the general public, aviation is a convenient add on.

    The gliding club takes up the prime real estate and is unable to generate the returns the touring public can provide.

    Bicester Motion’s actions and promises to the gliding club have at best been disingenuous. On the other hand they have not hidden their intentions, just google Bicester Motion/Heritage it’s all there plain to see. We can fault their motives but not their business acumen.

  • Javier says:

    Glider Pilots and Sky Tramps, you need to learn that Landlord Wins every single time hands down and stop all this frenzied nonsense about times gone by. You moan at transponders, European licensing, airspace, just about anything that upsets your lonely man or woman in the sky sport, yet you land in everyone’s fields and claim you lost your 1 knot thermal whilst circling over a farmer’s barn at 100′ desperate to not land out, and then fly back to your competition flying 150 knots VNE over the local housing estate all in the “spirit” of your gliding competition of a dozen wannabes. Your behaviour as a club and your Chairman has failed on every single account and embarrassed the entire gliding fraternity. You always thought you had the upper hand over local gliding clubs, and now you have fallen flat on your faces. Move over, and let a community of motion business achievers set a dream for everyone, not just for your mid life crisis and divorce.

    • Jess says:

      I have to agree for the most part. I lived in a village just outside Bicester for a decade or so and went to join the gliding club one summer. As a person under the age of 50, I was immediately treated with hesitant attitudes from everyone at the club. My prior glider training, done with actual RAF instructors from my time in the air cadets, was casually dismissed following a faultless solo flight, after which I was informed that I did everything wrong. I reiterated that my flying was what I was taught by the RAF, to which I was simply told “that’s not how we do things here”. Also, whilst I was waiting for my turn to fly, I spoke to some other young people who were there from the Oxford University Gliding Club. They too mentioned that they were given the cold shoulder by most of the club when they turned up to fly, despite doing their part to help run the place, they were seen as interlopers, but were grudgingly tolerated because Windrushers had an agreement with Oxford Club for them to be based there. I decided that club wasn’t for me after that and went do do my flying elsewhere. Fortunately, the Oxford students have also now found a new home for their gliding at Weston.

      This was back in the mid 00s, many years before the BH lot came along. The site was an utter mess back then, and whilst that isn’t the fault of the gliding club, they claim they’ve invested loads of money and timing refurbishing the buildings they did use, which is just nonsense. Before BH arrived, the hangar they used to store their flying canoes was just as dilapidated as every other structure, as were the “club rooms”. The other parts of the airfield at the time were also used for storing second-hand caravans, which I initially thought were travellers making themselves at home. The place was an utter eyesore. The only serious upkeep the club ever did was to keep the grass cut on the runways. They also monopolised the hangar, which was leased by the club, back then as until recently. The leaseholder would accept applications by anyone to keep aircraft there, and a few people from the local area who I knew wanted to keep powered aircraft in the hangar, but each time were essentially vetoed or just bullied out by the gliding club, lest their have to share their precious airfield. Some other aircraft did come and go but they were very few. The only permanent resident aircraft outside the club was a small company offering experience flights in a Tiger Moth, who, incidentally, remain at the site to this day having reached an agreement with Bicester Heritage, something the gliding club clearly could not do. I understand one of the sticking points was that BH wanted to reorganise the runway layout, which the gliding club objected to, partly because aircraft would fly over houses and cause noise, which is odd considering that for years they had no problem buzzing the surrounding villages with their Piper Pawnee tow-plane. If I do have to have planes flying around my back garden, I’d rather they were Spitfires and Mustangs, than some berk in an old crop duster.

      Bicester Heritage’s acquisition and renovation of the airfield is the best thing to happen to Bicester in decades. Despite everything, I’d have liked the gliding club to have remained and worked alongside the plans that BH have for powered aircraft at the airfield, but now that the club is gone, I don’t think many of us in the local area are going to miss it.

  • Garry Roberts says:

    I can second that comment, I spent a lot of time there learning to glide. Its a very friendly capable site that encourages flying.

  • Garry Roberts says:

    This was in reply to the response from Shennington

  • Roger says:

    Windrushers was a friendly and welcoming site, as I found out in 2009 and more recently. Of course, if you are not a pleasant character, no club will welcome you indefinitely.

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