Trip of the Week: The Classic Motor Hub
With a flight time of just over half an hour from our base at Elstree, the Cotswolds is easily accessible for the helicopter pilot who wants to escape London for the day. This Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is peppered with interesting landing sites and today we’re sharing one of our favourites: the Classic Motor Hub near Cirencester.
The Classic Motor Hub is a unique showroom of priceless classic cars housed in a venue with its fair share of aviation history: RAF Bibury, a wartime airfield once graced by detachments of Hurricanes and Spitfires. Having been devoid of aviation activity since its closure in 1945, the site now regularly plays host to visiting helicopters, with pilots and passengers always assured of a warm welcome.
What to do while you’re there
If you’re even remotely interested in cars – and to be honest, even if you’re not – you’re in for an absolute treat when you wander around the original ‘blister’ aircraft shelter and the Hub’s other meticulously decorated buildings.
Having grabbed a cappuccino from the Hub Coffee House, we took our time exploring and found an exceptional collection of cars (all for sale if you’re in the market for a new toy, but you won’t be harassed into buying anything!). Classic cars old and new are represented here, ranging from the totally original 1913 Piccard-Pictet, billed as the “Swiss Rolls-Royce” of its day and believed to be the only one of its kind remaining, to the stunning 1990 Lamborghini Diablo, only the 65th built of this iconic supercar.
There’s enough to whet the appetite of even the most ardent motorsports fan here. We drooled over the 1969 O.S.C.A. 1600 GTS Zagato, built for Le Mans and with a racing pedigree every bit as exciting as you’d expect. Another highlight was the 1969 Ferrari 365 GTS, one of only 20 and therefore among the rarest production cars Ferrari ever made.
There are new vehicles coming in all the time, so the Hub is a destination that stands up to repeated visits. It feels like a museum as much as a car showroom, and alongside its priceless catalogue there’s also a fantastic shop selling automotive memorabilia and gifts.
Approach and departure notes
The five-acre site has a straightforward approach over open fields with most wind directions. Note the private airstrip half a mile to the north of the site which can be seen on the map below.
The Google Maps satellite view is out of date – the junk you can see lining the perimeter fence isn’t there anymore, though there may still be cars parked there if there’s an event on. The red arrow shows where the helipad is; you’ll need to do a high hover to hop over the fence and onto it.
Captain’s Tip: Watch out for the windsock, which is quite high and mounted on the fence near the helipad.
When it comes to departure, if the carpark is empty and depending on the wind direction, there’s enough space for a normal transition at your discretion. If that’s not possible, go vertical and transition out over the fields away from the hangar buildings.
Planning your visit
All arrivals by air need to be booked in by calling 01242 384092 or emailing email@example.com, ideally 24 hours in advance, although same-day fly-ins can sometimes be accommodated.
The showrooms, Hub Coffee House and shop are open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, and 10am to 3pm on Saturdays. If you’re planning a group fly-in, they’re happy to provide a quote for a lunch package tailored to your requirements. You’ll find lots more information about the Classic Motor Hub on their website.
We’d suggest combining a stop at the Classic Motor Hub with another Cotswolds site to make the most of being in this beautiful area. Perhaps spend the morning here with a cup of coffee and then hop over to a nearby hotel, such as Buckland Manor or Charingworth Manor, and fuel yourself up with a top notch lunch before you fly home.
Our route from Elstree
The route we used from Elstree (and can be used for Denham, Wycombe & anywhere East) takes you out to the west via Princes Risborough (usually an easy feature to locate) and through Benson’s MATZ, then overhead Oxford Airport before turning onto a more southerly heading, making sure to avoid Brize Norton’s busy Class D, on track to the Motor Hub. The landing site is marked on Skydemon to help locate it, however as always with private sites we’d recommend choosing a more easily distinguishable Initial Point to fly to first to get your bearings.