I'm moving to London. I'll live at Vauxhall Bridge. I'm looking for a place to base my Cessna 172 around London. It seems that the only place where hangar space is available is Biggin Hill. Would another airfield around London have hangar space available?
I drove to Biggin Hill from Vauxhall Bridge, I had to drive 1h30 following the quickest route my GPS found. Would any of you know a quicker route? Or is 90mn the standard time?
The hangars for small aircrafts in Biggin Hill are on the eastern side of the runway, a 2 miles drive from the main terminal. If I chose to commute via public transportation, would it be easy to get a taxi to drive me to Bromley South, what would be the time I'll have to wait? Would they know how to get there?
My only experience with taxis from GA Airfields is in France, and to get a taxi at Toussus le Noble you have to call several companies until you find one who is willing to work, then you have to explain, several times, where the driver has to pick you up, then you have to wait a totally unpredictable time, from 5 to 50 mn. And then the guy tells you either that he wont drive you to Paris, but at the nearest train station, or that he wont drive you to the nearest train station because its too small a trip, but that he will drive you to Paris. And he will make you feel that driving you is a sort of a favour, as he would have better things to do. That's why I'm asking about Taxis in Biggin Hill. If you fly to Paris, choose Saint Cyr l'Ecole, it's at a walking distance from the station, and the view of the Chateau de Versailles is included.
Driving in south of England is always slow. Trains will generally move you faster. Local taxi firm will rapidly get used to you and provide the link to airfield and back. Get an air map and take a look at the many airfields around London. In the same sector from London you will find Redhill (my base) Fairoakes and Blackbush. Life would probably be cheaper at Denham, so look around.
I second the comment about taxi drivers. Very few bad ones here.
Denham is a nice airfield - would definitely save you money over Biggin but it depends on your budget. I'd be disappointed if you couldn't do Vauxhall Bridge to Denham in 45 minutes (Google maps says 35 minutes, though traffic is a MAJOR factor).
Try Headcorn in Kent. Friendly airfield with a grass strip and the owner has just erected a brand new hangar for parking. Trains run to Headcorn from Charring Cross every 30 minutes and it takes about 1 hour 6 minutes. Short taxi ride from the station to the airfield or you can walk it if the weather is nice, about 1 mile from the station
Last edited by happybiker; 4th Feb 2012 at 12:05.
Reason: Added walking information
Last private hire taxi I took from Bromley South to Biggin was £12ish (datacars I think) or jump on the 320 bus from outside the station for £1.35 (it might have gone up a bit) takes about 20 minutes. A black cab costs £18-£20 from the stand outside the station.
I'd give Fairoaks a try. 45 mins drive from central London, hangers are in the right place, and very regular trains to Woking from Waterloo/Clapham (about 25 mins) and always loads of taxis at the station, which is 10 mins from Fairoaks. 800 metre paved runway with lights. Decent cafe.
I've flown to Toussous le Noble a number of times as well, only problem with with their taxis are the speed they drive
If you're not bothered by cost, there are plenty of taxi's available at Bromley South. The 320 bus stops at the main terminal and by the flying schools so you'd still have quite a walk to get to the hangars.
If you're driving I would go either A2 - A20 and then through Bromley or A23 - A232 through Croydon. Neither route is particularly good, but they are better then using the A21 or the south circular due to all the choke points like Catford!
Strangely, Shoreham is easy to get to from London. Take a Southern Train from Victoria to Worthing and get off at Shoreham by Sea. The line actually follows the airfield boundary. Taxi must be all of 5 mins to the Termianl.
Not sure about hangarage and there's an issue about handling. But with a good weather record and its own GPS approach I commend it to the house.
I used to live in Pimlico and fly from Biggin for a few years, so am familiar with your problem...
A 1.5 hour drive is par for the course, quite short, in fact. Longer if you want to drive out there on a Friday afternoon... even when driving on a Sunday morning with no-one around I never managed less than 1 1/4 hour, if I remember correctly. And it's a pain, so I only did it a few times.
To get to Biggin I took the train to Bromley South and then a taxi from the station. There is a taxi rank at the station, and while not all taxi drivers are familiar with the south side of the airfied, you can always direct them. I allowed 1 hour for this trip, including the 10 minute walk to Victoria, and normally made it with 5-10 minutes to spare.
To get back from Biggin I took a local minicab firm [local to Biggin, that is, NOT to Bromley] and made sure on booking they knew where to go. However, advance booking was necessary, just calling them up would give you a 20 minute wait, and much longer if they are busy.
I was flying from the flying schools right at the entrance of the airfield estate, so it was easy to find. If you are hangared all the way around, for example in Hangar 504 or in the old Air Touring hangars, it might be more difficult.
There was a minicab firm present in the terminal that knew their way around, but they were very expensive, and without pre-booking weren't any faster than the locals.
So, in a nutshell, I would say no problem getting TO Biggin, but getting back needs an arrangement with a local minicab firm.
Hangarage is available at Fairoaks, and as other posters have said, the train journey is straightforward (Vauxhall Bridge or Clapham Junction to Woking then taxi; more trains available per hour if you go from Clapham). Even driving to/from Vauxhall Bridge shouldn't take too long provided you don't try it in rush hour.(A3205, A205, A316, M3, M25 to Junc 10)
Bakerloo, Jubilee or Northern to: Harrow and Wealdstone, Stanmore or Edgware. Depending on where you are in Vauxhall. Short taxi or minicab ride to Elstree. If you want to subsidise your a/c costs we could discuss a leaseback....................
320 and then a half hour walk isn't too bad to get to the eastern side of Biggin Hill - I have been doing it for about 4 years now... - Security integration every now and then makes the trip a bit more fun... (Sometimes they offer a lift too!!)
If taxi is more your thing I know lots of people around the airfield use Cannon Cars - T
Which are both the reasons why Biggin will never become a big commercial airport. There's no space for an ILS on 03, and no one is gonna want to pay for a rail link there. It's also a bit too expensive for typical GA to base there now comfortably and it's not well connected enough for more commercial operations. Southend has no such problems.