Now in it’s third year, the event covers historic motoring and aviation, with demonstrations on the ground and in the air. Based at a former war time air base, Bicester Heritage is now being re-developed in to the UK’s only business park dedicated to historic motoring and aviation. It is also still an active airfield for light aircraft and gliding.
The event offers something for everyone, with a classic car display, parked historic aircraft line up, a figure of eight circuit for the historic cars to drive round. Just behind the track were the military vehicles, which were doing demonstration runs and also passenger rides. There was an air display in the afternoon and plenty of vintage displays and traders to wander around. There was live music featuring the Candy Girls, Perfect Vintage and the FB Pocket Orchestra.
Probably the oldest car on the track was an American 1904 Stanley Steam car. Delivering a total of 8HP. It still looks a majestic way to travel as it chugged around the circuit. Specialist vehicle insurance brokers Footman James came up with the Footman James Cup for the best competition car in the paddock. A panel of experts had selected a top ten, which included the Stanley Steamer. The public were then able to vote on-line. The shortlist included a 1923 GN Spider, 1927 Bugatti Type 37, 1954 Austin A30 Speedwell, 1957 Maserati 250S and a 1966 Lola T70 Spyder. The winner was a 1929 Bentley Birkin Blower, with 16.2% of the vote. In the late 1920s. the 4.5 litre Bentley wasn’t fast enough for Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin and after W O Bentley refused to fit a supercharger to his car, Birkin did it himself with the help of Amherst Villiers and money from Dorothy Paget. The car then went on to win races beating Mercedes Benz SSK in the process. In this competition it beat the 1934 Alfa Romeo Tipo P3 in to 2nd place while 3rd was split between a 1955 Jaguar D Type and a 1962 Jaguar E Type. All these cars made demonstration runs over the weekend.
One of the most unusual cars on track was the 1965 Bentley T Type Single Seater driven by Ben Eastwick. This 6.5 litre, front engined monster has a wheelbase of 8ft 10inches. Amazingly the car appears to have been built without any racing series in mind.
During the afternoon, the action alternated between the continuing track action on the ground and an amazing historic air display in the skies above Bicester. High light for many people was the ‘dog fight’ between a Spitfire and a Messerschmitt 109 replica. The Tiger 9 Display team flew a formation display using nine Tiger Moth biplanes. The display was as spectacular as any the Red Arrows might perform, but at a slower speed. They even had head to head cross over displays using all nine aircraft.
An exciting feature of the air display was the Great War Display team which recreated the air battles of the First World war, high above the trenches in Europe. Monoplane, biplanes and triplanes all circled overhead, staging dog fights, with explosions bursting in the sky from ground anti Aircraft guns. German, British and French planes circled above the airfield, chasing each other in pairs or more, simulating the confusion of actual dog fights. It was easy to see the skill and bravery of those young earlier aviators.
With lots of people dressed in period costume from the thirties and forties, plus military vehicles and displays all around the ground, it showed how the airfield would have been when it was an operational airfield. This was an exceptional show and should be top of your list to visit in 2018.
By Simon & Janet Wright.