View Full Version : Neil Williams - 40 years ago today (11/12/77)

11th Dec 2017, 07:56
Can't believe that it's 40 years since Neil Williams died. I remember reading the "missing" item in the Daily Telegraph followed by the bad news several days later.

I only saw him fly several aircraft at two airshows and possibly a Sunday afternoon practice in his Jungmann at Farnborough.

I re-read Airborne periodically (the updated and enlarged copy) and I'll bet I'm not the only non-pilot who has a copy of Aerobatics!

Wonder what he would have gone on to achieve if he'd lived - a big part of the scene at Duxford I'd imagine.

11th Dec 2017, 08:12
Good article on Neil in latest magazine Aeroplane Monthly, didn't realise that Tony Bianchi should have been with him on the trip (Neil took Lynn instead) but Doug Bianchi said he was required back at Booker, Doug had fatal heart attack roughly same time as Neil crashed out in Spain, strange co-incidence, tragic losses to aviation.

11th Dec 2017, 08:14
Wow doesn't time fly!

Remember his fantastic displays in the Stampe & Zlin well.

And of course his handling of the Zlin main spar breaking is a masterclass in calm clear thinking under pressure.

11th Dec 2017, 08:28
Good article on Neil in latest magazine Aeroplane Monthly

Thanks, will try and get a copy later on.

11th Dec 2017, 09:42
Good article on Neil in latest magazine Aeroplane Monthly, didn't realise that Tony Bianchi should have been with him on the trip (Neil took Lynn instead) but Doug said he was required back at Booker, Doug had fatal heart attack roughly same time as Neil crashed out in Spain, strange co-incidence, tragic losses to aviation.

Another co-incidence (?) was shortly before the crash, I went to visit old Reg in the tower at Blackbushe and he ruefully told me 'I can't even give people a pressure setting now 'cos the governer (Doug Arnold)'s given Neil my altimeter to bring a 111 back from Spain.'
Course we'll never know whether this was the altimeter Neil was using.

11th Dec 2017, 09:50
It was thanks to his book, 'Aerobatics', that I had the headsup which almost certainly protected me from groundlooping a Jungmann on tarmac.
Also recollect his comment: "Aerobatics does not consist of staggering around the sky like a drunken bumblebee" which is, by me, more honoured in the breach than the observance.

11th Dec 2017, 11:38
Articles written by Neil Williams for Shell Aviation News available here (http://steemrok.com/steemroknwlistv4). The file format is PRC, which means they can be viewed on Kindles or Kindle apps on tablets and PCs. Here's how SAN reported his death:

"We must record with deep regret the loss, on 11 December 1977, of Neil Williams and his wife Lynn while flying a Heinkel III from Spain to England. He had lately delivered two of these vintage military aircraft from the UK to the Confederate Air Force in Texas, subsequently writing for Shell Aviation News what must be one of the most remarkable accounts of a North Atlantic ferry flight in winter. This article has yet to appear. Neil Williams was one of the most versatile and accomplished aviators Britain has ever known. Many times UK Aerobatic Champion, he was once European Champion and came close to winning the World title in 1976. Six years previously he had been decorated for an unprecedented feat of airmanship when, one wing of his aerobatic aircraft folding upwards after recovery from a vertical dive, he flew the machine home inverted and rolled it erect just before touchdown, thereby preserving it for the accident investigators. RAF and industry test pilot, film & TV, demonstration and transport pilot, he was also an acknowledged expert on the operation of historic aircraft. His Spitfire displays, in particular, will be long remembered. Neil took a keen interest in Shell Aviation News, contributing over the years no less than twenty specialist articles and advising on many areas of the magazine's work. A prolific author, his book 'Aerobatics' must ever remain a classic."

11th Dec 2017, 13:21
One to remembered, to be sure

12th Dec 2017, 18:06
I think the article on the Humming bird summed up Neil's attitude towards flying.
He enjoyed flying a 30mph machine because it was a challenge, and he was prepared to mentor anyone wishing to improve their aerobatics.
When he was using our miniscule 'club room' at the top of steep stairs at RH he was instantly recognised by his lightweight blue jacket rather than a badge adorned flying suit. In fact he seemed to wear that jacket regardless of the aircraft flown, and it also included evening trips to Reigate for an ad hoc TC meal.
We were so lucky to have him around watching over the hooligan element and providing such a friendly input to our activities.
We had to demonstrate a new display routine to him at a pre season shake down that had the team with a new leader and 50% new pilots. Neil and James Black positioned themselves on the airfield to assess our efforts, but without prior knowledge of the display content (still in development stage).
Suffice to say it ended up low and complicated but Neil's debrief was very short and to the point. 'It was like a clip from Hells Angels' good luck with the season.

13th Dec 2017, 10:15
Neil, JTS Lewis and I were all fresh faced, first tour, FOs on 13Sqn 58-61.
We would sneak off to Akrotiri station flight and borrow their Meteor7 or Chipmunk for a few aeros or Meteor v Canberra dog fights. After one such I was trundling back to the field when there was a loud noise and a plan view of a Meteor and the top of Neil's bonedome a few feet in front of me.
Neil discovered you could get one and a half turns of a flick roll off the top of a loop in the Chipmunk, just don't look at the crinkly skin near the wing roots. Spoiled when they fitted the spin strakes.
On one occasion Neil's navigator had managed to get some leave and had swanned off in some ginormous sailing boat. Neil tracked it down and laid it on it's side spilling the G&Ts.
You could leave quite a good wake in a PR7!
Last time I flew with Neil was in a Stampe at Redhill. He failed to warn me that it dumped a few pints of hot oil in the front cockpit when you did a lomcovak.
Still cannot believe his demise. He was such a conscientious planner.
Great mate, great pilot.

13th Dec 2017, 10:30
Qtp. you know that JTS passed away a couple of years ago in Wales..He was just leaving Aero Flight as I arrived,was CP at Shuttleworth,and even was `brave enough to let me ,nay even `forced` me,to fly the Granger Archaeopteryx....he always wore his `enginemans hat`....