Ever since my machine returned from its expensive 300hr maintenance last year I’ve kept it hangared at Barton. Unfortunately, the hangar I was in, is the former fixed wing maintenance hangar, which was at the time vacant. I’d been told that I could use it on a week by week basis, but that Barton were actively seeking a new maintenance company to re-occupy it, and provide engineering services to the fixed wing aircraft. Recently, and regrettably I was notified that a new maintainer had been found and that they would be looking to occupy the hangar. I was being evicted !
The only alternative for my machine was at the Heliport, which is close by, but nowhere near as close as I would like. It’s definitely not on the main Barton site (as you can see by looking at the picture) and I was reluctant to move across, mainly because it lacks the social aspect that visiting the main airfield complex provides as well as some other aspects of my general aviating. Unfortunately, I had little choice despite doing my very best to find an alternative home, and if I wanted to keep my baby indoors it was the heliport or nothing. Steve and Mike my pals that own G-LEEJ a Hughes 500 were also in the same boat.
In all fairness, the heliport has some excellent facilities and although I’ve only been there a few days I’m adjusting to the changes. Firstly, it has been completely renovated and the ground floor comprises a modern block of offices occupied by the Management and Administration team of Barton Airport who have (understandably) moved across from the main airfield site. In addition there is a very modern and well appointed pilot’s lounge with new leather seating and tea and coffee making facilities. There is also a meeting room and kitchen as well as toilet facilities.
The hangar itself quite frankly huge and before our arrival contained only two helicopters, an Sikorsky S-76, G-PACO, owned by Peel holdings and operated through their Air Charter business, Cardinal. The second aircraft is a Bell 430 owned by JJB sports and even with our two helicopters placed inside there is plenty of space available for other aircraft (not too many though, I hope). Access for the aircraft to and from the main apron, which is large enough to fit 4 helicopters on (i reckon) is by way of two large, electronically operated, sliding doors. In fact I only have to open one of them to get the JetBox out. The heliport has 24/7 access, Jet A1 fuel, night lighting and extensive security and I’m already beginning to feel at home.
The same operating procedures still apply in that we are required to call for start up and obviously as were still within the Barton ATZ all movements are under their ‘control’. The fuellers have to travel across from the main site area to administer fuel which can obviously cause some delay but with a little planning and foresight this is easily overcome. RFFS is also still based there, but as an incident could occur anywhere on the airfield that’s also no problem. I am a little concerned at the perimeter fence and how that may affect my ability to lift out of their full of fuel and people but if this does present an issue, I will have to consider a rotors running collection of passengers from the main Barton site. There is a rumour though that this fence may get moved so we’ll have to wait and see.
All in all, it’s a very smart place to be and probably the nest place too, however the Jury’s still out, but I’ll keep you posted !
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