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Pilot friends we remember...

Accidents and Close Calls Discussion on accidents, close calls, and other unplanned aviation events, so we can learn from them, and be better pilots ourselves.

Pilot friends we remember...

Old 13th Jan 2020, 14:35
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Russell Bannock OOnt, DSCO, DFC passed away on January 4th, at the ripe age of 100! Though I did not know him well, I still consider him a pilot friend, and certainly a mentor. I knew him in his deHavilland days, and he took me flying a couple of times, showing me the merits of the Beaver with consummate ease. he inspired me with stories of test flying at dH, and a few Mosquito stories from WW2. Russ, along with George Neal, Bob Fowler, Mic Saunders, and Bill Loverseed from deHavilland Flight test all inspired me....
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Old 16th Jan 2020, 23:43
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Sometimes it's nice to talk about it instead of bottling it up, isn't it ? Thanks for the opportunity. PDAR.
My recollections are mainly from years ago when we were just young kids straight out of training. Some of the transition era of jet aircraft had a number of "nasty habits" to consider. There were drills but occasionally these were not effective.
In those cases it was mainly that the airframes and engines of the time were just not up to the job expected of them.
Among a few of the problems, one could talk about seats that didn't fire on request when another known weakness showed itself and the aircraft had to be abandoned. Complex hydraulic systems operating at very high pressures and electrical systems that failed and caused further system losses, particularly in bad weather, were commonplace.
Early days of AAR resulting in broken hoses ; underwing stores mounted on dubious WW2 and Korean War load carriers designed for piston and turboprop aircraft; landing gear with more limited life than expected. I reckon I lost about 15 friends in such circumstances, sometimes two at a time. I stiff-upper-lipped it up for years but the last time I visited a certain graveyard, on my own fortunately, I just blubbed uncontrollably.

Since then, in later life, a further 6 are no longer with us mainly due to operating at the extent of the aircraft envelope.
I sometimes just feel guilty that, besides missing their company, I myself have come through it.
I have frightened myself a number of times since, both by overconfident stupidity or failures that I have dealt with and walked away. I have done many years of maintenance flight testing that could be construed as asking for it. I have also done a lot of what could be described as exploring the edges of the envelope as an instructor teaching advanced handling. Fortunately, with such experience and by taking their deaths to heart and trying to avoid getting too enthusiastic, I am still here.
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Old 29th Feb 2020, 05:14
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A very thoughtful thread, I like the idea of remembering missing aviator friends & acquaintances. I lost 2 friends , both great pilots who were GA instructors & ATPL captains. 1in a GA midair & 1 due to structural failure in an auto gyro. Very sad losses. I’ve also lost a number of acquaintances over the years. On my part I’ve had some close calls which have given me an even greater respect for the air. You never stop learning as an aviator. Fly safely folks , enjoy it but respect the air because it can be very unforgiving . RIP Andy & Ron, forever blue skies.
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Old 18th Apr 2020, 08:45
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Flt Lt Bruce Handyside.

Originally Posted by India Four Two View Post
Two weeks ago I witnessed an accident. Two friends died as a result of a mid-air collision between an ASK-21 and the C-182 which had just released it. The towplane severed the glider's tailboom at the base of the fin. The descent was mercifully quick.

Allan W. was a few years younger than me. He had started gliding quite late in life, but quickly progressed and by the time I rejoined my club in 2015 after an overseas assignment, he was the CFI. He had imposed a strong safety culture on the club and was well-respected and was a very nice, sociable person. As a friend said "He was one of the good guys."

Adam L. was an 18 year-old post-solo student, who was doing a pre-license flight with Allan. I had known him for two years as a friendly, outgoing club-member, who was very keen, always helping out if he was not flying. His instructors universally described him as a very good pilot. What I didn't know was his achievements in other fields. He had been doing Taekwondo since the age of five, was an instructor and had recently become a Second Dan Black Belt. He was also a very popular and well respected WO2 in a local Air Cadet squadron. He had graduated from High School this year and was going to study Physics at university this fall.

A tragic loss of two such nice people. This was the first time I had been involved with the aftermath of a fatal accident and I had often wondered how I would react in this situation. I discovered that I was able to separate the events after the accident from my interaction with my two friends earlier in the day. I went into a kind of automatic mode when dealing with police and emergency personnel at the crash site.

I have been lucky in that only one other friend has been killed in an aircraft accident. Bruce Handyside was a school friend of mine. We did RAF Special Flying Awards together at White Waltham in 1966 and then he went on to Cranwell and I went to university. After getting his wings, he went onto helicopters. He was killed in Oman in the early 70s when an underslung load hit his Huey.
Good Morning India Four two,I hope you are well.

I was extremely saddened to hear of Flt Lt Bruce Handyside's passing as I also knew him.

I met him when I was detatched to RAF Leconfield from Binbrook in the early 70's.I was on the RAF Police flight,and he was flying SAR on 202 Sqn.I volunteered to act as survivor on training sorties,and did several "wet" and "dry" exercises with him and his crew.

I met him again at RAF Salalah a few months later and we spent some time reminiscing. I recall he was involved in an incident when his a/c struck the ground and he was thrown through the windscreen, suffering facial and other injuries. I visited him at the FST, shortly after his admission.

I found Bruce to be an extremely pleasant,friendly and genuine guy,who would always take time to explain what we were doing and why.I value the memories of the times I flew with him and remember him with deep respect and affection.

He was definitely one of the good guys. I shall raise a glass to his memory tonight.

With respect.
Rob Wharton.
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Old 6th May 2020, 09:43
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Rob,

I've only just seen your post. Thanks for your anecdotes about Bruce. I agree with you, he was really nice.

The last time I saw him was in 1967 when I was on my first UBAS Summer Camp at Binbrook. A group of us who had school friends at Cranwell, drove down there to see them. I was always slightly surprised that he went to Cranwell, since he did arts subjects in the Sixth Form. He was also a talented artist. I suspect his father, who had been a WWII RAF pilot, may have been instrumental in his decision.

I was in Canada when he was killed and I didn't find out about it for several years, until my Mother mentioned in passing that she had heard about the accident.
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Old 23rd Oct 2020, 04:48
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It is a strangeness in my life that I don’t make many friends and don’t remember names so I was thinking, as I read this fine thread, that I didn’t really know anyone who fit the bill. As I read on one or two came to mind and I realised, for the very few friends I have, that even one or two are really too many.

There was my stepfather. My father was killed in a Typhoon near the end of the war. My mother married a test pilot. He took me up in an Auster when I was about four. He had survived Malta and bailing out. He was later killed in a rather unpleasant and unnecessary accident.

Not my friends but: I was at boarding school age about seven or eight. Early post war. One day a couple of ex students from before the war came to visit the headmistress, landed their Auster on the playing fields. After they left they crashed in the woods just a few hundred yards from the school. Some time later we were on a class nature walk and were rather carelessly taken past the crash site. I distinctly remember my intense curiosity and how some of the remaining small bits looked. The event left an impression on us all as though we had known the victims but I didn’t feel much about it till I was in my fifties and something brought it back to mind.

There was an airline pilot, D. I met who came with a friend to Sun and Fun the year I went. Go getter. Died from suspected fuel starvation leaving an airshow for home.

B. Lovely guy. Gave a friend a ride on the friend’s daughter’s wedding day. Spun into the water from maybe three hundred feet. Both lost.

R. Owner and Chief instructor for a gliding club. Just a bit too “We’re gliders, everyone must give way to us,” for me. Lost is a motor glider in a mid-air in a valley passage between the airfield and a local village.
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Old 23rd Oct 2020, 22:18
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Gave a friend a ride on the friend’s daughter’s wedding day. Spun into the water from maybe three hundred feet. Both lost
Yeah, that's a very sad situation. My eldest daughter had her wedding here at home. Not only did I not fly, I parked one of my planes in the middle of the runway so no one else could either. I would not have wanted an accident of any kind spoil her special day...
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Old 24th Oct 2020, 01:03
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Thinking of those I have known who are no longer with us is like a golden thread that runs through my career. My life.

John Watts, Pete Stacey, Guy Ward, Dave Browning, Wayne Hopson, Tony Moffat, Steve Newman, Andy Johns, Dave Sunderland, Phil Brewer, Glyn Jones, Graham Forbes, Kev Hardie, Richard Westgate. They were all shocks. Friends gone before their time. All but one lost in aircraft.

My very close friends were Jim McMenemy, Dick Meston, and my closest friend in life Rick Cook.

Many of them I was privileged to carry to their final resting place. Many in their twenties.

This post is not meant as anything other than to allow me the opportunity to say, every single one of them utterly loved to fly. To “slip the surly bonds of earth and dance the skies.” How lucky are we. We happy ‘few’, we band of brothers.
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Old 25th Oct 2020, 04:39
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PilotDAR
Yeah. Didn't fly on MrsVJ's birthday, our anniversary or my kids birthdays. 65 year old low timer in a homebuilt.. Didn't need to.
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Old 13th Jan 2022, 11:21
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Originally Posted by Sleeve Wing View Post
Sometimes it's nice to talk about it instead of bottling it up, isn't it ? Thanks for the opportunity. PDAR.
My recollections are mainly from years ago when we were just young kids straight out of training. Some of the transition era of jet aircraft had a number of "nasty habits" to consider. There were drills but occasionally these were not effective.
In those cases it was mainly that the airframes and engines of the time were just not up to the job expected of them.
Among a few of the problems, one could talk about seats that didn't fire on request when another known weakness showed itself and the aircraft had to be abandoned. Complex hydraulic systems operating at very high pressures and electrical systems that failed and caused further system losses, particularly in bad weather, were commonplace.
Early days of AAR resulting in broken hoses ; underwing stores mounted on dubious WW2 and Korean War load carriers designed for piston and turboprop aircraft; landing gear with more limited life than expected. I reckon I lost about 15 friends in such circumstances, sometimes two at a time. I stiff-upper-lipped it up for years but the last time I visited a certain graveyard, on my own fortunately, I just blubbed uncontrollably.

Since then, in later life, a further 6 are no longer with us mainly due to operating at the extent of the aircraft envelope.
I sometimes just feel guilty that, besides missing their company, I myself have come through it.
I have frightened myself a number of times since, both by overconfident stupidity or failures that I have dealt with and walked away. I have done many years of maintenance flight testing that could be construed as asking for it. I have also done a lot of what could be described as exploring the edges of the envelope as an instructor teaching advanced handling. Fortunately, with such experience and by taking their deaths to heart and trying to avoid getting too enthusiastic, I am still here.
Yes. Fortunately God has been with us, It is strange to me, but as I get older, I remember more of the ways I nearly died..
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Old 14th May 2022, 03:47
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My friend Elton Townsend passed away last week - peacefully, in a very well earned retirement, and I have to hope with little worry near the end, as I chatted with him only two weeks ago, and all was good for him. When I think of the many nice things I would like to say about them, I realize that I have already written them, when I supported his nomination for a lifetime award for aircraft mechanics a number of years ago. So, 'here goes again, with every word being as meaningful now, as it was when I wrote it a few years back:

Dear Committee,



Please accept this letter in support of your consideration of Elton Townsend for a lifetime achievement award. I cannot think of a more deserving person for such an award. While thinking to summarize Elton’s contribution to Canadian General Aviation, a single thought about Elton is forefront my mind: Not only did Elton provide innumerable people with their first chance in aviation, he also provided them with their second.



It’s one thing to provide excellent maintenance to our industry for so many decades, but it is well beyond that to provide support and mentoring to so many people in our industry. Elton can quietly inspire, by demonstrating it himself, and then making other people feel good about doing as he had done, and doing it better after that. So many aircraft maintainers, owners and citizens in general are better people for having known Elton. For his staff, he selected them personally and stood by them, supporting their personal growth, and graciously absorbing difficult situations along the way, never “throwing anyone under the bus”. If something was challenging, Elton would figure it out, and gather the resources he needed to get through it. He researched and hired in the assistance he knew he would need. Happily, this meant employing more people at Lake Central Air Services. The people made the place, and made the team what it is.



Elton created a solid and proud business which sustained itself and always grew within its capacity, never too fast and risky, but never shrinking either. He invested in it, devoting himself, even later into his life, when many people would have lost their sense of commitment. Because of Elton’s investment and foresight, Lake Central Air Services grew to be known internationally as a quality provider of specialized aviation services. Whether aircraft maintenance or survey products, I have encountered people from across Canada, the US, and several other continents, who had a good word to say about Elton and Lake Central Air Services. Elton’s experience and wisdom in aircraft maintenance was also appropriately well respected in Transport Canada. I recall during a discussion with senior Transport Canada staff about proposed maintenance standards improvements, they qualified the need for the new standards saying to me: “It’s not the Elton Townsends of the world we’re worried about, it’s the next generation who will need these standards”.



Elton saw the opportunities and stepped up to the challenge. He was the wise and established aviation businessman, who sold a service he knew. When Elton sold a service or product, he knew it and could show why it was right. When a client had a question about a service or product, not only could Elton explain it, he could demonstrate it and fly it. That was always the finishing touch on a job correctly done. Elton understands aircraft, and understands well what needs to be done to keep a plane flying or make it better for the client’s role. Elton has amazing instincts to innovate. In harmony with his team, he led, built, tested and obtained design approval for new products which filled the need. Clients left happy, and came back for more service and product, rather than with concerns.



Elton has also been an inspiring mentor for pilots. He can teach! Practical and effective, Elton’s clients and students received excellent advice which was the best around. This is just what our industry needs, people who inspire and grow our business and contribute to the foundation of our future.



In my opinion, Elton set the standard for dependable and reputable general aviation service in Canada. I hope these thoughts contribute to your determining that Elton Townsend is the right person for a lifetime achievement award in Canadian aviation.
I just want to remind readers here, that such people have inspired our industry, and hopefully we can continue to live up to the standard they set - for its own sake....
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