View Full Version : Geoff Bullen 617 VGS Hendon, Manston, Bovingdon

8th Jun 2012, 14:13
Apologies as I am coming in to this by a side door as it is about my father Geoffrey Bullen, latterly of 617 VGS, who I am enquiring.
Geoff instructed at Hendon, Bovingdon and Manston and is approaching his 90th birthday next month. We are organising a small family celebration including a flight in a Stearman - does anyone have memories of Geoff which you can share with us on his special day?

Aileron Drag
15th Jun 2012, 13:51
I was a cadet in 120 (Hendon) Squadron, based in the large hangars which now form part of the RAF Museum. 120 had half of a hangar, and 617 had the other half.

I did my Gliding Proficiency course with 617, and subsequently became a staff cadet on the unit.

I remember Geoff Bullen as being a really nice guy, and a great instructor.

I'm looking at my old log-book now -

24-3-1967 WT902 F/O Bullen 1 Launch.
26-3-1967 WT904 F/O Bullen 3 Launches.

He won't remember a spotty staff cadet from 1967, but give him my best wishes - he was one of the guys that enabled me to have a career in aviation.

ps - wasn't he CO of 617? I'm sure he was the Boss.

24th Jun 2012, 15:50
I will certainly pass on your comments and best wishes.

I sometimes used to accompany Geoff to Hendon (I would have been 10 in 1967) and remember it well

Kind of you to reply



20th Jan 2013, 15:03
Hi Mark,

I hope this reaches you and that I'm not too late to wish your Dad a belated 90th. I was a Staff Cadet and later a CI with 617 VGS at Hendon and Bovingdon (1962 - 66). Your Dad was one of my mentors and encouraged me towards a long (39 yr) and happy career in the RAF. I remember him as a true gentleman, fine pilot and patient instructor. Please pass on my kindest regards and best wishes. I have a couple of photos from those days which might bring back memories. If you give me an E Mail by PM I will try to forward them to you.

Is there anyone else out there with Happy Memories of 617 VGS in the 60s?

Nige May alias Olddog

Aileron Drag
20th Jan 2013, 15:42

I'd be interested to see those photos also, if you don't mind trundling them over the old interweb.

Sent you a PM with my 'e'.


22nd Jan 2013, 01:21
Hi Mark,

Geoff was one of my initial instructors at Hendon in 1965, then again during my advanced proficiency in 1966. Afterwards joined 617 as a staff cadet, then C/I and remained with 617 through the move to Bovingdon in 1968? and subsequently down to Manston in 1970 where I stayed until resigning as an A2 cat instructor in 1973 to emigrate to New Zealand.

My memories of your Dad are very fond ones, always a gentleman, very supportive and an excellent mentor. I would have no doubt tried his patience at times as I was very young and stupid during that era (still am). I even recall you Mark, along with Ken Young's son of a similar age.

The only anecdote I can provide was when at Bovingdon I forgot to gain prior approval to do a couple of loops in the Prefect. Chris Wick was running the line and asked me after landing if I had been approved for aerobatics. Naturally I told him I was and he said that he would need to see my log-book to prove it (I was lying through my teeth as no authorisation was in my log book). Chris ordered me back to HQ to get my log book, so back there I got it, hurriedly filled in the authorisation (back-dated of course) and went into the Boss's office (your Dad) to get a signature. He duly obliged (very trusting), so I went back to Chris Wick on the airfield with the 'proof'. Unfortunately Chris smudged the still-wet ink from the C.O.'s pen and the next thing I was grounded. Got a terrific bollocking from your Dad, which was part disciplinary and part gentle chat. It was a pleasure to receive this sort of treatment. I respected and admired him totally. Didn't stop me stretching the rules a bit, but it made me more careful not to be caught out so easily in future.

Please give him my very best wishes,

Barry Gillingwater


26th Mar 2014, 06:16
Geoff Bullen 617 VGS Hendon, Manston and Bovingdon passed away last Friday 21 March 2014

As his son I remember accompanying him to all three stations. The RAF was a central part of his life, with 617 VGS being as important to him as his service with 196 and 570 Squadrons

If anyone has any pictures associated with 617, Geoff's
family will be interested to receive them ([email protected])

Mark Bullen

27th Mar 2014, 01:24
Sorry to hear of your Dad's passing Mark, you may already be aware of it but there is a Facebook page '617 Old Boys Forum' that a lot of the 617 gang frequent. Might be worth a try with your request?


27th Mar 2014, 07:09
Thanks for the 617 Facebook suggestion
Don't know whether you were with 617 but from the pictures it looked as though you/they had a good time!

20th Oct 2018, 02:39
Just out of interest, can anyone recall when 617 moved from Hendon to Bovingdon?
I was with 613 (Halton) VGS in the '60s and we did several detachments to Bovingdon in the '60s prior to 617 arriving; my log book records me as having flown the last ever 613 sortie at Bovingdon on 5 March 1967.