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Ken Bradley

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Ken Bradley

Old 17th Nov 2015, 04:00
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Ken Bradley

This morning I received the sad news from Ken's son Jerry, that he passed away yesterday, aged 89.

Ken was one of those Bristow stalwarts that had been everywhere, done everything and was always ready for whatever great plan or adventure came next - the very foundation of the early days and future success of Bristow Helicopters. He held a variety of senior positions within the company, but always remained a very modest, unassuming and real person.

He worked back in the Fison and Air Whaling days and had flown just about every kind of application you could use a helicopter in, during it's evolutionary days. He had also flown everything from Hillers to S61's and anything that Bristow had operated in between. Ken was extremely humourous and easy going, and tucked away in his little office up by the ground school, his secretary would always be explaining that Ken was unavailable because he was attending a meeting - possibly the 2:30 at Lingfield...

I first met Ken during the Pilots strike when this rather strange and eccentric pilot showed up to fly the S61 in Sumburgh. He brought his wife Joan with him, and immediately fell into the social scene of Sumburgh and the great crew we had working there, during a very interesting time. This started a life long friendship for me, from a true gentleman and his family who extended great generosity and friendship to me when I left Shetland to go to Redhill as an apprentice - as far as even lending me his brand new car when I first arrived!

Sadly, Joan passed away a few years ago, and I know that would have been a very difficult transition, as they were very close and shared a very similar sense of humour and reality - which often left me thinking, how did we get onto this subject and at this level of detail. This often occurred after a quick Sunday lunchtime pint (or two) at the Station in South Nutfield, before Sunday lunch.

Ken had a great variety of highly unlikely (and absolutely true) stories from days long past, but involving people I knew well and worked with at Bristow - which I thought was quite amazing the close relationships (and with entire families) back in those early days of the company. Now much later in my life, I completely understand the strength and value of those same relationships which last forever.

My thoughts are with Jerry, Judy and Jane and their families. I am very proud and honoured to have had the great experience and memories of having Ken and Joan as friends.

R.I.P, Ken.

Last edited by Phil Kemp; 22nd Nov 2015 at 02:29. Reason: Never try to trust your distant memory of people's names - sorry Sarah... :)
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Old 17th Nov 2015, 08:26
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Very sad news indeed, Ken had been a family friend in Iran in the late 60's and later on when he worked at Redhill. My condolences to the family.
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Old 17th Nov 2015, 08:26
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Ken Bradley

RIP Ken great Guy good times in the RTS
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Old 17th Nov 2015, 10:20
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RIP Ken, always cheerful.
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Old 17th Nov 2015, 13:18
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Sad but what a great and long life and what an amazing part of Bristow history.

I would first have met Ken in about 1974 when he was in Redhill. I remember him accidentally inflating the floats on a 206 on the pad outside the H7 offices while demonstrating to a student....which he laughed off with his usual very British Gentleman sense of humour. It was the first time I had ever seen "pop out" floats.

Ken was an identity, he will always have a place in the annals of BHL history.
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Old 17th Nov 2015, 17:07
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I have not heard of Ken for some considerable time so whilst sad to hear of his passing I am glad to learn that he enjoyed a long and happy life.

I was lucky enough to report directly to Ken during my early years with Bristow. He was one of the characters that made the Company so rewarding and such fun to work for. I was on a traveling contract and he was running the European and Middle East desks. He sent me off on a number of ferry flights to deliver 212s and carry out pilot training prior to them entering service on new contracts. If there was ever a problem I knew that I could contact Ken and would receive a quick and sensible solution delivered with great good humour.

On one occasion we were ferrying the 212 that subsequently became G-BALZ back from Spain. We had the aircraft on a short term lease from BEAS and there was a penalty clause to be invoked should we deliver the aircraft back late. Needless to say the contract over ran and we were struggling to get back on time. It was a very cold and foggy January and just north of Amiens we gave up the unequal battle against a lowering cloudbase and landed the aircraft in a small factory yard. We were picked up by the local gendarmes and so I made my report to Ken from the local slammer. He instructed me to get back as soon as I deemed it safe to continue but meanwhile "Go and find a good dinner and bottle of wine".
I always obeyed instructions.
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Old 17th Nov 2015, 18:01
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Very sad news indeed but he had a good run for his money

I remember Ken from the late 60's to the early 80's. A true gentleman and another one from a dwindling number



Last edited by TipCap; 17th Nov 2015 at 18:02. Reason: editorial
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Old 18th Nov 2015, 11:24
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What sad news. Another old Bristow stalwart gone. I first met Ken in 1975 when he did my initial joining interview. I remember him as a true gentleman and a great character. RIP Ken
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Old 20th Nov 2015, 20:16
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Ken Bradley featured so much in my career and all of it so fondly remembered. As one of his junior Gas Pipeline and Charter pilots Ken gave me every opportunity to fly the Whirlwind, Bell 206 and Bell 47. sometimes all three in the same week !

I held the office duty once when he said he had some official business to attend to and then phoned me up to say he had dropped his car keys down a drain and his spare set was in the top drawer of his desk. Where are you I enquired - "Lingfield Race Course" was the reply.

My Whirlwind Line Check consisted of a flight from Redhill to Le Touquet for lunch. His secretary at the time Sarah, now married to Alec Lugg, was down in the cabin for the outbound Line Check leg. Line Check complete and Ken "refuelled" over lunch the new Captain flew Sarah up in the cockpit with Ken sleeping it off in the cabin below back to Redhill - job done!

"We'll do the paperwork in the morning dear boy"

The most touching gesture came when I had flown all over the place for weeks and just about to fly home in my Bell 206 from Newcastle and he phoned me up and asked me to stay in Newcastle to carry out some charity pleasure flying for British Gas in aid of NSPCC. Naturally I was little disappointed but tried not to show it.

Ken said look out of the airport hotel window about 5pm as the flight from London came in. He had organised my wife to join me and we flew back down in the B206 on a lovely summer's evening. Ken could do no wrong in our eyes.

Mind you he had also organised me to pick up a wedding charter in Surrey on the leg home - wonderful guy and so good for the business and to his staff.

That was the way it was in those days.

God Bless you Ken and thanks
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Old 21st Nov 2015, 18:02
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I would like to join those paying tribute to a true icon of an age in aviation when qualities such as professionalism, knowledge and experience coupled with charm and a wicked sense of humour were held high.
During the misguided pilots` strike of 1977 I was tasked with carrying out a VMC Base Check on Ken in the S61N. It was immediately apparent that Ken was not just another old warhorse dragged from his desk in Redhill. He proceeded to deliver a Masterclass in S61N handling including an immaculate Aux off landing and all this whilst nursing a newly mended broken leg sustained by falling out of an apple tree at his home.
Farewell Ken, your memory will be held in the highest regard by many Bristow old salts.
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Old 22nd Nov 2015, 01:54
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Yes, a first class chap and no mistake, in these days of elf and safety and hi viz vests, yukk, we can ill afford to lose such characters who are not being replaced it seems. I knew Ken in Redhill, Aberdeen, Inverness and Sumburgh. I would be interested to hear about his early flying days if anyone can do that.
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Old 22nd Nov 2015, 06:17
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First met Ken in Teheran in 1968, he was the area manager, I was there to get some 206 time before continuing to Duri for my first Bristow's posting. Really nice and helpful all the time. R.I.P Ken.
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Old 22nd Nov 2015, 13:46
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Another one of the good guys gone
I first met Ken in'72
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Old 22nd Nov 2015, 15:17
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Sorry to hear that Ken has passed away. I knew him in my pre-Bristow time in the 70's when I was working for someone else and he ran the Bristow charter operation out of Battersea. Always good for a laugh during the interminable hours of waiting around and he hired us occasionally if more than one 206 was required. I shall never forget one particular formation trip, with him as leader, in the most appalling weather down to Glyndebourne......
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Old 24th Nov 2015, 01:27
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Ken was a true Gentleman of the Old School of Helicopter Pilots....I shall tip a Glass in his Memory. Condolences to the Family.....another Old Hand taken from us!
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Old 25th Nov 2015, 10:01
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That would be Ken the cravat... Lovely man RIP Ken.
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Old 25th Nov 2015, 20:45
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From the local paper Cornish & Devon Post & Launceston Weekly News

Funeral Service at the Glynn Valley Crematorium, Bodmin on Friday 4th December 2015 at 2.30 pm. Afterwards at the Falcon Inn, Breakwater Road, Bude, EX23 8SD

Family flowers only please, but donations, if desired, for Cornwall Air Ambulance by retiring collection or c/o The Arthur W Bryant Funeral Service, Morwenna Court, Princes Street, Bude, EX23 8AR Tel 01288352989


Last edited by TipCap; 26th Nov 2015 at 20:50. Reason: Additional Info
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Old 6th Dec 2015, 14:21
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I attended the Celebration of Ken's life, several of the above comments were read out by Ken's son Jerry. The opening music was " Little old wine drinking me" by Dean Martin and the celebration ended with "Bring me sunshine" by Morecambe and Wise. For the record, I was with Ken in Malaysia before the 61's took over the 2 Whirlwinds.

Last edited by Oldlae; 7th Dec 2015 at 00:39.
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