View Full Version : John Jeff Hawke

arthur harbrow
1st Jul 2002, 19:50
Anyone got any stories or info on the late John Hawke?

1st Jul 2002, 21:46
Not really but "Mitchells do fly IMC" is one of my favourite films. My video copy is a bit tired now - anyone now where I could get another (or have a good copiable version) ??

It must have been an experience flying with Mr Disturb !!

2nd Jul 2002, 07:37
Yes I'd like to get hold of a copy as well - I remember seeing it when first broadcast (Channel 4?) many years ago and would love another chance to watch it.

Jeff Hawke as a real character without a doubt; and a very mysterious ending...

Spiney Norman
2nd Jul 2002, 09:35
I remember those B25's arriving in the U.K. I think they were for the film 'Hannover Street' which was being filmed at Bovingdon. The Oil smoke when they started up to position over there was something to see! Jeff Hawke was one of those characters who was involved in a number of 'projects' at this time in aviation history and people like him seem to have faded away. I also vaguely remember his involvement in a job that involved flying a number of Piper Pawnees out to Central Africa, (or was it back from)? Also a DC6 load of ex-RAF Chipmunks to the US in the late 70's.


3rd Jul 2002, 19:52
During those years, which were a spread of 1973-85 ish - there are a few pilots I would never fly with or in formation with. Two of them were Don Bullock and Jeff Hawke - there were others too. The former was an enigma. Always trying to find newer ways to impress and ALWAYS seeking that which was beyond him. The A26 accident at Biggin, which killed 6 innocent people aboard the aeroplane, was a result of crass stupidity. How he manged not to 'kill' Sally 'B' I shall never know - but in the end he killed himself - and the 6 unfortunates.

As for JH, he was a chancer. Anything that looked as though it would succeed he would do it. Bringing the B25's across the Atlantic to the Azores was fraught with danger, but he ploughed on - but in the process frightened the hell out of a couple of careful pilots - who abandoned him and the aeroplanes.

His fast run across Biggin one year in a B25 literally shattered the windscreen and cut him up quite badly - is another example of his extreme arrogance in an aeroplane. For Jeff was in fact a good pilot who took immense risks. Fortunately, unlike Don Bullock, his memorial has not been written as a consequence of his uneccessary risks - but more in the sense that he gave a great deal for the many who love aviation.

4th Jul 2002, 04:38
I remember seeeing one of those B25s @ Elstree or West Malling in 1983 or 84.
Taxying to challenge gravity, the right engine stopped at the end of the runway. A few people got out of the aircraft (perhaps a few too many for an aircraft about to display!), had a look around and got back in. They fired it up, took off and did a good display with plenty of smoke from the right engine!;)

7th Jul 2002, 18:06
I remember JH quite well, but I never really found out how he met his demise..

Anyone care to fill me in?



Shaggy Sheep Driver
8th Jul 2002, 09:03
I remember Don Bullock flying 'Sally B' at one of the Barton airshows in the late 70s. He was so low along the runway that from the crowd all you could see was the top of the fin whizzing by.


arthur harbrow
8th Jul 2002, 17:39
Thanks for the replies so far.
Mutt, having moved house recently and sorting through aviation
stuff, came across a mag cutting stating a six seater twin had
been dragged up in fishing nets in the Adriatic.
The pilot body had a driving licence in the name of J R Hawke.
Not sure of the date of cutting,possibly late 91or92, thus my
interest in this larger than life character was rekindled.

9th Jul 2002, 13:07
I seem to recall that the aircraft was recovered without a body in it. I seem to recall also that the aircraft was owned by a celebrity (not sure enough to name him) and that there were many questions raised at the time about exactly what the aircraft was doing there. Rumour had it at the time that it was all a bit dodgy.

I remember him blasting down the runway at Biggin at nought feet in the 25 and then pulling it up into a barrel roll - incredible.

I also remember him blasting overhead in the 17 at low level - again at Biggin - and pulling such a steep low-level turn that the thing seemed to almost stop in the air before he rolled the wings level again.

He taxied in on both occasions to rapturous applause and adulation. How things have changed.

Great character - many mysteries - please keep this thread going - its very interesting. More news please!

arthur harbrow
9th Jul 2002, 14:19
Hairyplane, interesting what you say about no body in plane.
I have found some more detail in some old folders.I noted the
plane as an Aztec G-OESX along with the date 21/11/91 although
this is my wedding anniversary so this may not be connected.
Also found a note of my own making, stating that in 1976 John
had been cleared of a conspiracy to smuggle a B26 bomber and
arms to the Portugese Air Force.

Spiney Norman
9th Jul 2002, 15:09
Don't know if this is correct but was Jeff Hawke's company called Euroworld Enterprises, (or similar)?


9th Jul 2002, 16:18
It was Aztec G-OESX, previously owned by David Essex (think Harvest Air might have operated it for him?) but NOT at the time of the accident. Speculation was he was gun running for one of the Balkan countires... The aircraft had been repainted between JH renting it from the owner, and it being dredged up.

I think Euroworld was actually Don Bullock - was Jeff Hawke's company Visionaire International?

Can't think JH would have barrel-rolled the B-25, but Bullock did roll the A-26 at Biggin which was his - and others - undoing at the 1980 Battle of Britain Day as CamelPilot has pointed out. Saw a photo of the B-17 at Barton or Booker or somewhere, prop blades perhaps three feet off the ground... jeez... It accompanied a Flight article by Darryl Stinton about air display safety, probably 1978 or 79 - his point about low flying was valid.

The story about JH, the A-26 and the Portuguese is also accurate, though I thought it was a few years earlier, late 60s?; the way I heard it, he got busted by the Feds for flying over the White House after problems with the aircraft (probably be shot down in these scary days), and when they found out what he was actually planning to do with it...!!! There are still some derelict Portuguese A-26s in Angola, perhaps all part of the same plot... I'll see if I can find out some more about them.

B-25 pilot for the "Battle of Britain" film...

Only other story I can relate (and my one personal experience of him) was being shouted at along with lots of pother people for standing too near the B-25 while he was starting it at Cranfield! He had a point...


10th Jul 2002, 01:28
I was one of the Air Cadets trying to hold the crowd back in 1980.

We all saw him go in, the wingtip vortices were absolutely thick white smoke as far as I can remember.

There was an awfulness about those final few seconds, when you absolutely, positively knew, he was never going to make it.

Wasn't there something about the aircraft being out of C of A as well? I may be wrong on that point though.

10th Jul 2002, 07:55
Think you might be right on the CofA issue, Tony, that rings a faint bell... I think operating US reg'd aircraft in those days might have been a case of "out of sight, out of mind", another well know incident in Seventies springs to mind...

Didn't you say you were with the ATC at Kenley - you must have lived fairly locally to me in those days...