Useful airfield information and home of the forum's fuel price league tables.

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By The Westmorland Flyer
Barra is one of the few airfields in the world where a knowledge of tide times is part of the preflight planning. Apparently it is also one of [url=]The World's Scariest Runways[/url]!

The East bay, towards the north end of the Island of Barra provides an enormous area of firm sand at low tide, which provides ample space for three nominally defined "runways". The western ends of all runways converge on a point just slightly to the south of the terminal, marked by a large orange bollard. Similar bollards mark the easterly ends but are much harder to locate. Not that this is a problem - provided you get somewhere reasonably close to the runway heading then you can actually land anywhere you like!

The first landing at Barra is a bit intimidating but in practice it turns out to be straightforward enough. All the approaches are clear and there is ample length. The sand is quite smooth (I've known grass strips that are much worse!) and usually the surface water drains away completely to leave a decent hard surface. The lack of perspective didn't cause me any problems, though I probably landed a little longer than I needed to as a result.

Barra has a FISO service and the operator is very helpful. Because the opening hours are limited by a combination of daylight and tides, the airfield can be quite busy with commercial traffic and it's best to keep out of its way, especially if you think you'd like to do a low pass to check the ground prior to landing (which the FISO will gladly accommodate).

There is a small terminal building, with a cafe. When I was there it was packed with passengers - this really is quite a busy little airfield it seems. We didn't really have time to explore but there doesn't seem to be much to do in the vicinity - the interest for me was entirely in landing on a beach!

Apropos of which, you will definitely want to wash the sand and salt water off the underside of your aircraft as soon as possible after landing at Barra. I found the fire people at Benbecula were exceptionally helpful and more than happy to give JLIN a good sluicing down. When phoning for PPR I just asked the ATCO if I could have access to a hose and I got the fire service instead! Can't argue with that. Sadly, the less said about the airfield security Stasi at Benbecula the better.

Barra is definitely a most unusual airfield to get in your logbook! Well worth a visit.
Last edited by The Westmorland Flyer on Sat Jan 31, 2009 10:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
By Iceman
If you wanted to stay overnight, I presume that there is parking above the tide line - serious question ?

Iceman 8)
User avatar
By The Westmorland Flyer
Iceman wrote:If you wanted to stay overnight, I presume that there is parking above the tide line

We wondered about that and couldn't immediately see where one might easily get an aircraft above the obvious high tide point. The FISO was a bit too busy to bother with this hypothetical question, so we departed with it unanswered.

There's got to be a way, otherwise a minor tech problem would become a rather more major problem within a very few hours!
User avatar
By 140kias
We visted Barra on Saturday. I called the Thursday before to enquire about opening times and tide times for Friday. Just as well as HIAL require a minimum of 4 hours notice for PPR and given the airfield opening hours are variable in accordance with the tides, I wouldn't have got an answer the following day.

As it happened the airfield would be closing before we could have made it so PPR'd for the Saturday instead. Got an excellent briefing from FISO/Fireman who advised the beach is suitable for use 4 hours either side of low tide. We arrived 3 hours before low tide and there was still quite a bit of standing water. Touched down with lots of spay but no problems. We departed about 1 hour before low tide and beach was draining nicely. I would say that the performance was better than short field grass and despite being 4 up and close to MTOW, we were up and away in no time - helped no doubt by the 182's 20 deg flaps.

There's a good cafe in terminal building serving sandwiches, toasties, soup etc. We went for the all day Scottish breakfast. Bacon, Egg, Stornoway Black Pudding, Lorne Sausage, Tattie Scone and the now ubiquitious Baked Beans. Highly recommended even though I forgot to decline the beans which in my opinion desecrate a tradition breakfast.

I was told during the briefing from the FISO that overnight parking was at our risk. However there would appear to be a ramp off the beach a couple of hundred metres to the south of the Terminal Building where it may be possible to pull an aircraft clear and pitch a tent. Also the tide doesn't always come all the way up the beach so if low tide and fine weather is forecast then all may be ok.



User avatar
By Dominic
Charles Hunt wrote:Loooooove the registration!

I remember on the way to Berlin last year that the Langen Info controller made the same comment.
User avatar
By 140kias
Personally I hate the registration. Too conspicous. It came free with the aircraft. Various rumours as to its true meaning. On purchase it also had 'the bitch bites' on the cowling but my co-owner insisted that we had it removed. I wanted to change it to G-MILF but it would have cost too much for the repaint.
I also remember the comments from the Langen controller.
User avatar
By Charles Hunt
Well there you are, you are in the fortunate position of being able to achieve both at the same time!
By aileron
Stopped at Barra for two nights last week.

There is an area that aircraft can be positioned (taxied in my case) above the forecast high tide. Tie downs are also available.

Hire for one day of 2 bicycles came to £28.
User avatar
By Final Approach
Forgive me for the stupid question... ;)

I'm assuming that you can only realistically take a fixed undercarriage aircraft into Barra? Possibly planning a Highlands tour this summer, however, it would be in a retractable Arrow. Had initially crossed Barra off the list, as I wasn't happy with the possibility of corrosion once the gear was up.

Any advice / comments?
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By Keef
I think the received wisdom is that after Barra you go somewhere where the fire services folks will hose down your aircraft with non-salt water.

My own view was that I wouldn't land on wet sand. As it happened, the weather didn't exactly favour Barra that weekend so we sat round the bar and sorted the world out.
User avatar
By dont overfill
Hi FA,
The firemen at Oban are happy to hose your AC down for free.
User avatar
By Chilli Monster
Final Approach wrote:I'm assuming that you can only realistically take a fixed undercarriage aircraft into Barra?

If you look carefully you'll notice the C182 in the pictures is a retractable

Possibly planning a Highlands tour this summer, however, it would be in a retractable Arrow.

Would 'GY stay serviceable on a trip that long? :D