Great Massingham has a special place both of our hearts.
For J, this is because it’s the first unlicensed airfield he ever visited after gaining his PPL. For me, it’s more about the fact that the nearby village has an awesome pub and a seriously high ratio of ducks to people!
Regardless of our differing motivations for visiting, we wholeheartedly recommend it as a place to fly into.
The airfield is strictly PPR only (‘prior permission required’, meaning you need to call up before you fly) by telephone. This is partly because it’s so close to the MATZ (military air traffic zone) at Marham. But the procedure is straightforward and once you’ve given some basic details and advised them of your ETA, you’re ready to go.
As we approached the airfield, we made blind calls (where you call up so anyone else on the frequency knows what you’re up to but don’t expect a response) to advise our position and intentions as the frequency was closed. On our first visit we were the only ones on frequency the whole time, but subsequent times there have been others around, so it’s definitely worth doing these calls every time for safety.
We landed and taxied to the parking area and were amused to see that the ‘C’ sign (which is used at all airfields to show where visiting pilots should report on arrival and normally displayed next to an entrance to the main terminal or office) was attached to a small green chicken shed on wheels!
Inside the shed is a clipboard and pen to record your aircraft details, and a small wooden moneybox in which to place your landing fee (£8 for single-engine aircraft). Make sure you have the exact money as the chickens don’t tend to keep change on them! We also suggest sending the smallest member of your party to do the necessary, as manoeuvring space inside is somewhat limited…
From the airfield it’s a pleasant 20-minute walk into the village, where on our first visit I was incredibly excited to discover the range of duck ponds and ducklings!
I should perhaps explain that I have had a thing about ducks since I was tiny and still absolutely love seeing them. J is quite long-suffering in this regard and it’s safe to say he doesn’t share my enthusiasm. I normally try to keep my feelings in check but could barely contain my excitement when a mother with no less than FIFTEEN babies showed up! Fellow duck-lovers will surely understand that this isn’t a situation in which it’s possible to maintain complete composure. Look at them all 🙂
We discovered the Dabbling Duck pub and had a really nice lunch before wandering back through the countryside (via some more ducks!) to the airfield.
We’ve been back to Great Massingham a few times since to visit the ducks and also a friend of J’s whose family live nearby. It’s always been friendly, welcoming and incredibly straightforward to fly into. The landing fee is very reasonable and it’s now one of our staples for a short trip.
The airfield will no doubt be high on my list of destinations once I have my own license, especially due to its wealth of web-footed inhabitants. J says he will send me there alone during duck breeding season so he doesn’t have to put up with my squealing…how rude.
I am evidently not the only visitor who comes for the ducks. There are plenty of them around and they all look extremely well-fed. It seems that feeding by visitors has in fact encouraged an influx into the area. One sign reads: “TOO MANY DUCKS are causing pollution. To prevent culling, please do not feed the ducks.”
I’m not sure I could imagine such a thing as ‘too many ducks’, but I accept that I am somewhat at the extreme end of the ‘pro-duck’ scale. I did find it amusing that there was a particularly fat mallard sitting defiantly next to the sign in peaceful protest…
- ICAO code: N/A, unlicensed
- Runway direction & length: 22/04 (900m)
- Runway surface: Concrete
- Landing fees (at time of visiting): £8
- Facilities: None on the airfield, but the village of Great Massingham has facilities and a pub.
- Transport links: None, but it’s a lovely walk into the village and the pub is excellent.