The CIX VFR Club Gold Cup
Club Events - Cheltenham Festival
Fly your jockeys and VIP passengers in for a day at the races
Home > Monthly Events > Cheltenham Festival
Briefing MARCH 2022

Just before St Patrick's day, a large number of racing fans normally head to Cheltenham for the annual festival of jump racing, culminating with the Gold Cup race on Friday afternoon. The famous racecourse is just north of Cheltenham town nestling under the Cotswolds escarpment. Jockeys, stable staff and the richer punters will require air transport. Many will travel by private jet from Ireland arriving into Gloucestershire airport for onward transfer.


The racecourse has a heliport alongside, which is licensed for the duration of the festival with full ATC provided by the licensee (callsign, Cheltenham Tower). Helicopters will arrive from all parts of the UK and Ireland into Cheltenham (EGBC). Some may bring air passengers from Gloucestershire Airport (EGBJ).

For those wishing to fly to and from the heliport, there is a small scenery file available for:

There are permanent white edge markings for the Final Approach and Takeoff Area (FATO) which are visible in Google Earth and MSFS, but everything else is temporary including the ATC caravan, portable edge lights, helicopter parking space markings and passenger building.

Start Time and Place

The CIX event will take place the evening before the festival on Monday, 14th March 2022 from 1900z to 2100z.

Depart from any location of your choice to arrive at EGBC during the hours of the event and/or fly helicopter shuttles from EGBJ.

Flight Planning (Plan-G, Little NavMap)

Use Plan-G or LittleNavMap as usual to plan a flight from your chosen origin to EGBC or EGBJ and estimate the flight time so that you can arrange to arrive within the event times if possible. Set the simulator time to daylight to enjoy the scenery and if necessary set the weather to ensure VMC.

Routes to and from EGBJ <-> EGBC are described on this map.

CIX VFR Gold Cup Procedures


EGBC has a FATO (14/32) and ATZ available when licensed with a helicopter circuit usually on the NE side to avoid overflying the racecourse. Details are available on the NATS website under heliports: EGBC) Special ATC procedures are normally published as an AIP circular some time before the real event. A Tower ATC service will be provided for our CIX event - expect to join right hand downwind for 32 or left base for 14. Beware of the high ground rising to about 1000ft immediately to the East of the heliport. Keep the circuit tight and during busy spells it may be necessary to hover on downwind or base or proceed forward slowly. ATC will provide traffic information. The FATO is for alignment, do not land on it but air taxi to an available parking spot marked with an 'H'. Flying is not allowed at any time when horses are on the course so don’t hang around - drop off or pick up your passengers with rotors running and depart again or move to a suitable parking place elsewhere on the field.

Unpublished VRPs are used for reference and potential holding for arrivals:-
Prestbury (SE of the field), proceed for straight in runway 32 or left downwind runway 14 or as directed by ATC
Bishop's Cleeve (NW of the field), proceed straight in runway 14 or downwind right hand runway 32 or as directed by ATC.
Dowdeswell Reservoir, from the SE and S proceed to Prestbury when instructed
Stoke Orchard, from the W and NW proceed to Bishop’s Cleeve when instructed
Dixton Hill, from the NE proceed to Bishop's Cleeve when instructed

Obtain the local weather conditions for EGBJ from the Gloucestershire ATIS message and plan for the appropriate runway for arrival/departure. EGBJ has 3 active runways (09/27, 04/22 and 18/36). Helicopters can land and take off from anywhere on the airfield but will need a clearance from ATC to lift and cross any runway. The standard helicopter procedure is to arrive or depart the ATZ at right angles to the active runway at or below height 750ft.

What Aircraft can I fly Any single-engined aircraft can be flown in this event as long as it is within the EASA "Light" category (see Club Rules for details) This includes light helicopters - in real life Squirrels, Eurocopters and Jetrangers are quite common. At EGBC, the ground is not prepared at all and is not suitable for wheeled aircraft.

Gloucestershire Approach will be online on VATSIM. When arriving into the area (whether to EGBJ or EGBC), contact EGBJ_APP in the first instance. A Basic Service can be provided outside controlled airspace within a radius of 30 nm from EGBJ. (Radar is not available real world at the moment). Outside controlled airspace, Air Traffic will provide information and advice as appropriate but no instructions. An Air Traffic Service may be available en-route to the area if required from Area or local airfield controllers subject to workload. Contact them if you require a service.

Hopefully a Tower service will be available both at EGBC and EGBJ; if so, they should be contacted for departure.

Helicopter pilots may wish to simulate operating for Helicopter and Aviation Services Ltd who provide the transport service in conjunction with the Jockey Club. The ICAO code for the operator is JKY and radio call sign "jockey". Connect to VATSIM with the call sign JKYnn where nn is any two digit number that no one else is using.(For example JKY23 - call ATC with callsign "Jockey23". Of course if you prefer you can simulate a private contract and use your normal registration-based call sign.

Airmanship Remember to ANC (Aviate, Navigate & Communicate). This event should be fun for all, both pilots and controllers. Bear in mind that other traffic (not CIX members) may also be using the airspace and/or airfields but everyone has equal priority. There is no controlled airspace at low level in the vicinity. Outside of the ATZs Air Traffic Services are not mandatory.
Radio Discipline

Take care not to let our Teamspeak chat cut across ATC. Stop any conversation immediately the R/T comes alive, then continue if "he wasn't talking to us". This is difficult because when transmitting on Teamspeak you can't hear the R/T. So be brief on Teamspeak, and be aware that ATC might be trying to get through. If anyone hears an R/T message which seems to be being ignored, just say "ATC is calling G-CIXN" if you have identified the callsign, or "ATC is calling us" which is a cue for everyone to be quiet on Teamspeak until ATC call again (which they will). Remember too that if asked to "Stand By" by ATC, you do not reply - not even "Roger", but simply wait until you are called again.

Remember also that there are several different ATC frequencies in use, and you may not be able to hear when communications are taking place. Make sure you have set and know how to use a Teamspeak mute switch.

Club Star Award File a PIREP for the event day as usual with EGBC as the destination. EGBC is not a default airport but you can add it manually to the CIX logger. Use the ICAO code EGBC to ensure the star is awarded.
Acknowledgements Event Idea: Mike Pike
Event planning: Mike Pike
Briefing: Mike Pike
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