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Old 13th Mar 2004, 22:53   #1 (permalink)
JDK
 
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John 'Jeff' Hawke - Adventurer

Hi All,
Just wondering today how much of the amazing career of John 'Jeff' Hawke is ever likley to be told. I'd love to write up an article for a mag, but the chances of getting to the truth and getting it published... Not gonna happen. However, the oddest bits come up on forii, so...

So I thought that a few of the folks here might have a contribution to make. I believe the following is true:

Led a group of B-25s over to England to film 'Hannover Street', the ferry flight commemorated in 'B-25s do fly IMC' - a classic documentary.

Killed when his light aircraft went into the sea between Italy and Yugoslavia. Why he was there has never been officially confirmed.

From a family with a proud Cornish heritage

And pilot of the B-25 cameraship the 'Psychadelic Monster' for the Battle of Britain film.

Large personality, large man, superb (if adventurous!) pilot.

Any stories?
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 01:34   #2 (permalink)
 
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Jeff Hawke

Hi JDK,

There was a thread on this fascinating bloke several months back.

I remember him displaying the B25 at Biggin Hill - in the days when looooooooooow passes followed by a barrel roll were de rigeur, (at least until Don Bullock dropped a b@llock and found himself upside down in the A26 Invader at least 1500ft too low and took 6 others with him into the smokin' hole.)

I remember Hawke climbing out of the B25 afterwards - a bit of a shed it has to be said - with one very smokey/ stuttering engine (and that was before he took off!). He was beaming like a cheshire cat and enjoyed an appreciative audience around him - including me. A larger than life character with his goatee beard, megabelly and multi-badged (and much too tight!) flying 'whistle'.

I also remember him blatting overhead from behind the crowd at nought feet in the B17 one year (can't remember where) and cranked it over so suddenly, it seemed to stop flying and 'hang' in the sky. It all looked scary to me at the time.

Airshows just aint the same .....



Fortunately......!!!!




I agree with you JDK that a story on this bloke would make fascinating reading so please get to work on it.

Somebody somewhere knows the story in detail. Hasn't he got a widow somewhere?

If there were any 'naughties' - lots of rumours about drug/ gun running I know - then surely the passage of time might just enable the story to be told to you by now?

There are so many colourful characters in UK aviation -

How about a book on Maurice Kirk?

The story of Chris Barratt-Jolly - ex Phoenix Air Cargo at Coventry and multi squillion 707 hours across the broadest spectrum of 'carriers' - now banged up for 25 years for drug running (707 again) - would make very interesting reading too. I had dinner with him and his charming wife once (and no - he wasnt after borrowing the Hairyplane for a quick 'booze (?!) run across the channel...!

Good luck with Hawk JDK - the story must be told 'cos I for one want to read it!

HP
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 10:48   #3 (permalink)
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Why not a series on those larger than life aviation characters....Jeff Hawke definately, but Doug Arnold has got to feature in there too, who was literally 'larger than life' itself!!!

Any other suggestions?
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 13:33   #4 (permalink)
 
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Interesting blokes..

4 more for the list -

Charles Church
Brendan O Brien
Spencer Flack
John Romain

I'm sure I'll think of a few more

HP
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 13:50   #5 (permalink)
JDK
 
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The problem with a bio of Jeff Hawke (or Doug Arnold and a few others for that matter) is quite a lot of 'fact' is annecdotal - and some will be disputed by family members - in certain families into court. Most of the good stuff won't ever hit the page, for these reasons. Having seen a few cases like this in my time, I'm wary of entering the arena...

On the web, however, while the law's essentially the same, the 'IIRC' aspect can help... Hint hint...

On the other hand the less -ah- controversial people have a different obsticle - I've interviewed John Romain, but with a veto on publication, as he wanted coverage of the aircraft, not him. I managed to publish (in the late lamented Warbirds Worldwide) a profile of Clive Denny, which was well recieved, as Clive is a down to earth bloke with an insparational story - fireman to Spitfire pilot in a lot of hard lessons, in summary!

OHB was someone we wanted to profile, but we were led to believe that WHB wouldn't be keen.

Comment, annecdote, etc greatfully received.

Cheers
James
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 14:15   #6 (permalink)
 
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I also remember him blatting overhead from behind the crowd at nought feet in the B17 one year (can't remember where) and cranked it over so suddenly, it seemed to stop flying and 'hang' in the sky. It all looked scary to me at the time.

I remember Don Bullock flying the B17 at one of the Barton airshows, in the 70s IIRC. His low pass was so low that from my position, about 10 people back from the fence, all I could see was the top of the fin going past

SSD
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 14:17   #7 (permalink)
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Jeff Hawke ferried a Meteor NF-11 (a TT version, rather than the proper NF) to the US, arriving in the middle of an airshow... Is that correct?
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 17:32   #8 (permalink)
 
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<<The problem with a bio of Jeff Hawke (or Doug Arnold and a few others for that matter) is quite a lot of 'fact' is annecdotal - and some will be disputed by family members - in certain families into court.>>

Dead people can't sue for libel, James, and neither can their families on their behalf. Mind you, I was once on the receiving end of a threat of a libel suit from Doug Arnold when he was very much alive. Rather that than having him set his junkyard dogs on me, I suppose.

As regards Don Bullock, I rode jump seat in 'Sally B' with him at a Yeovilton Air Day once Keith Sissons in the right seat and during one of his ultra-low passes I could see very little difference, deck angle apart, from the visual cues when we had been parked. "How low were we on that last pass, Don?," I asked when we'd landed. "Oh, bags of room, at least two feet between the prop blades and the runway." Pointless, really as SSD says, because only the few rows of spectators nearest the front could even see the thing.
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 19:28   #9 (permalink)
 
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I used to fly with someone who'd also crewed the RAF's Lanc in the early-ish 1970s. He told me that he'd met the B-17 gang once on the airshow circuit and asked, in all innocence, how Don managed to pay for the thing.

The word 'Kray' was mentioned in the reply, whereupon the subject was rapidly changed....

Clearly there most be some fascinating stories yet to be revealed.....
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 19:44   #10 (permalink)
 
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Ju52 Iron Annie.....

landed at Barton in the 1980's-ish for one of the annual airshows. Out stepped Jeff Hawkes. He'd pulled off a perfick landing on less than 600m in light winds and hi temps.

Later for the press he dog fought with Peter Thorne in Spencer Flacks Red Spit. The Ju52 had a rear turret gun and gas so one could hear the "pop" as it fired. Pete had strobes in the Spits gun positions so head on one had a sense of its fire power.

The Ju nearly won! But in true tradition Jeff head smoke on from one engine and literally disappeared behind the trees.

It was a better show than on the public day.

Was'nt the Aztec he was flying at the end one previously owned by David Essex or did I dream that?

Sir George Cayley
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 20:20   #11 (permalink)
 
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Don Bullock, I am sorry to say, only ever flew for Don Bullock! He was, in many ways skillful but dangerous - as events were later to prove. There was never any point in flying as low as he did except that it satisfied his ginormous ego. Keith Sissons and Chris Bevan were masters at giving a display in SallyB so that everyone could see the aeroplane. But in one display at Finningley DB did a very steep turn in front of the tower, while the Group Captain was discussing the flying with Raymond Baxter, the wing tip was never more than a foot to 18 inches off the deck and drew forth a dust vortex that made the GC gasp! Who then said " that man will never fly here again!"

Jeffe Hawkes was in fact similar, but he was IMHO a better pilot than DB - and took fewer chances - but those he did were sometimes rather iffy. Some said that his greasy cap was his talisman.
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Old 14th Mar 2004, 22:00   #12 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
John Romain
Nice chap, capable and professional pilot AND Engineer, but not sure he'd qualify as larger than life - actually a fairly quiet retiring fellow in my experience. His father Jim Romain however, that's another story!

G
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Old 16th Mar 2004, 14:24   #13 (permalink)
JDK
 
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Quote:
Dead people can't sue for libel, James, and neither can their families on their behalf.
Indeed. However most stories have at least two charecters in them, and one of them may be alive.

Bluntly, I'm too lazy to write something which could cause me a lot of distress and stop me doing other things. I've seen too many people, even when correct, have to fight to prove their statements. Note B-Eagles' post - Having hosted one of the Krays for an event myself, I also know not everyone uses legal methods of revenge / correction!

Quote:
John Romain - Nice chap, capable and professional pilot AND Engineer, but not sure he'd qualify as larger than life - actually a fairly quiet retiring fellow in my experience.
Not larger than life in reality, quite the opposite, being under endowed in the height dept. However, while also not an anbelievable charecter, quite an impressive chap by his achievements alone. And a very safe pilot. Didn't he get an award for bringing the Lysander back 'alive'?

Cheers
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Old 16th Mar 2004, 18:07   #14 (permalink)
 
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<<I also know not everyone uses legal methods of revenge / correction!>>

When next we meet I'll tell you an anecdote about the late DA in which such methods might have figured (but not with DA as perpetrator!).
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Old 16th Mar 2004, 19:29   #15 (permalink)

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Genghis,
John Romain's father is/was a bit of a microlight expert. I think he also made, or still makes, wooden props for microlights.
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