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Pilot of Air Anglia Bell 47J, Clacton, mid-70s

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Pilot of Air Anglia Bell 47J, Clacton, mid-70s

Old 25th Jun 2005, 10:03
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Pilot of Air Anglia Bell 47J, Clacton, mid-70s

Sorry, I don't have a clue as to the name of this chap, but for one all-to-brief period in the mid-70s (76? 77?) there was a Bell 47J (the only one I've ever seen in the metal) giving joyrides from Clacton airstrip.

I went over before the start of flying one day to talk to the pilot and he went through the pre-flight with me. Funniest bit was when he walked straight into the 'keep your head below this height' board - of course, he was the one person who didn't have to worry about it. First flight of the day was a bit longer than the typical grockles got, free autorotation thrown in, then a bit of a tour round the field at 6ft AGL, roaring past the potato pickers who strangely didn't wave back.

So anyone know who was flying it? Or what possessed Air Anglia (I think) to do joyrides in a 47J? And may I express my gratitude?
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Old 25th Jun 2005, 15:45
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Pleasure flights had been done for many years at Clacton-initially with Austers (G-AJVT/G-AMSZ/G-AKWS) and then a variety of Cessna 172`s (G-ATRE/G-ATUN etc). Occasionally an Islander would also do them at busy periods and in later years a Cessna 206.
The owner-was Jim Crampton, he was in partnership with
"Wilbur" Wright who was doing pleasure flights at Great Yarmouth. They both formed Rig Air later called Air Anglia to support the blossoming oil/gas business that was developing off shore from Yarmouth and Aberdeen.
Jim used to do a lot of the flying himself along with a number of other pilots (Graham South,Jo Collins, Doug Brown, and Sqdn leader Gerry Fawke of 617 sqdn fame, and others).
Jim Crampton bought an Enstrom helicopter for his personal use and thought it would be a good idea for pleasure flying-so he bought the Bell 47. (G-ATFV)
It was quite noisy and there were a lot of complaints from the locals and so it was dropped after only one or two seasons.
It was also relatively expensive to fly and its performance was limited with three adults on the bench seat behind the pilot.
P.M me for a photo of it at Clacton if you would like a copy.
(and some of the other aircraft too)
The other Jim at Clacton was Jim Newman-the airfield manager, a great character who despite his RAF pilot handlebar moustache,
had served in the army, but cultivated the image to good effect with the hoards of people who would in those days queue up for pleasure flights at 12/6d a time around the pier or to the mothballed fleet anchored off Bradwell/or around the Radio ships
(Caroline and London) off of Frinton/Holland on sea.
Jim would take photos of the passengers and send them on to them as a side business.
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Old 25th Jun 2005, 16:46
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in the mid/late 70s Air Anglia had three fleets: F28, F27 and Executive. the Bell 47 and a JetRanger were part of the exec fleet. the heli pilots were Curly Crowther (Army) and Jim Lawn (Navy). Jim retired back to Yarmouth (I think) after finishing at Bristows LGW and I lost track of Curly. Clacton airfield was handed over to Eric Shipley about 1979. he was last heard of in Florida.
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Old 25th Jun 2005, 23:14
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Thank you everyone!

Don't know why I didn't ask on PPRuNe before. I also don't know why I didn't ask about that time in 1984 when a group of lads who ran their own dental supplies company thought it would be a great idea to run pleasure trips in a 500 (Thurston Aviation's?) off the end of Clacton Pier. I turned up with £100 and got 20 minutes (sigh), enough for a jaunt to hover over my house and wave to the neighbours. The trip back was quite exhilarating, but not as exhilarating as it had been the day before (first day on the job) when a pedal turn by the aquarium had caused everyone inside to run out fearing it was about to collapse...
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Old 27th Jun 2005, 06:24
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Mmm, brings back some memories. What of Doug Brown and Jerry Fawke?

I went in a 172 or similar A/C on what was to be a short trip. The pilot knew what I did for a living and treated me to some extraordinary flying.

First we chased a beutiful old pleasure trip speedboat. Wooden I believe. When the guy heard us he swung round and nearly fell out of the boat. I hope they were friends. what's the rule...50' separation?

Then we went to Walton Pier. By went to, I mean we went to it all by 100' .....HORIZONTALLY. The folks in the bowling ally were dropping their balls. As we zoomed over the roof we went past the folk on the Ferris wheel...eyeball to eyeball.

It is on my list of twenty most memorable flights.
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Old 27th Jun 2005, 16:59
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Rivets,

were you with Air Anglia or NWI airport?
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Old 28th Jun 2005, 08:39
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Flew a DC3 for a year (1970/71) with AA then went back to EGKK and Freddy.
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Old 29th Jun 2005, 23:26
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When at AA I never flew with Doug Brown and Jerry Fawke but had the privilege of having the odd jar with them, mainly in the old Skean Dhu at Dyce. Lovely characters....... great blokes!

I heard from a friend of mine who attended an AA reunion a couple of years ago, that Jerry also attended for a couple of hours before he had to go back to his Retirement home.
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Old 3rd Jul 2005, 10:55
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I was sorry to hear that Gerry was in a home - I hope he is comfortable and as happy as could be possible anyway.
Chris Crowther was the regular pilot of the Bell 47 at Clacton as mentioned -and I think the only one at that time who flew it commercially.
Other pilots of the Cessnas etc that now come to mind are
Ian Mackie and Brian Sharman but there were others who flew on an occasional basis.
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Old 3rd Jul 2005, 19:15
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I attended that reunion a few years ago. I will be ****** off if I missed Gerry. Spud was there Jim Gross and Nightingale's wife, Kate. Wilbur was ill.

BB Sharman was never in AA; he was only involved with Peters Aviation which AA engulfed. he ended up (last time I saw him) running a picture-framing business near the airport.
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Old 4th Jul 2005, 18:30
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Brian Sharman, Gerry Fawke, Roy Howard & Jim Gross have sadly all passed away quite recently. Douggie Brown is still around and living in Norwich. Brian was in Air Anglia, he flew the F27 in the early days before starting up his own air taxi company which was probably taken over by Peters Aviation.
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Old 4th Jul 2005, 22:10
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thank you for that; sad news indeed.

I think you are right; BBS did have his own air-taxi outfit briefly (I should be able to recall the name of it but I cannot) and it was, as you say, taken by Peters before AA.
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Old 5th Jul 2005, 01:45
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Saddened to hear of the departure of some of the guys…seems like only yesterday.

Dougie was the one that introduced me to a saying that amused me a lot..

When I told him the story of some post war car salesman stropping a crank big-end bearing with a dog lead and grinding paste, he smiled wistfully and said “yes, there was a lot of ovality about after the war.”
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Old 25th Sep 2005, 22:46
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Grrr

G-ATFV was/is stored at a place called Chirk near Oswestry.



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Old 27th Sep 2005, 23:02
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I took my very first flight from Clacton in an Auster, in perhaps 1955. I was too young then to remember any details now, but I do remember the thrill.
Regards,
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Old 28th Sep 2005, 01:18
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Flew with Roy Howard when I was a steward at Air Uk...sorry to hear of his passing and condolences to his family.

I recall coming into EDI when I was positioning home on the J/S and the call came up, "UK 210 (can't recall the exact flight no) we have you in on radar, continue descent/ approach ..." To which Roy replied whilst twirling his 'tache, "That might very well be , but we can't see you so can you please turn the bloody runway lights on?!!" LOL!

Fond memories.

Cheers

HR
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Old 27th Oct 2005, 21:12
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posted 27th October 2005 14:50
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
quote:

Ahhh, Air Anglia.
Any news of another reunion before we all depart to visit the choir invisible??
Fantom- you wouldn t be the blighter who was in charge of executive fleet by any chance?
Hideous Ben Kershaw, Tony Hamstrung, Alien Coggs, Spotty McMilligram, Chris Bourke, Curly Croither, Jim Lawn, Arfer Fuller, Piggy Waltooon, Martyn Pointing etc, etc NOW where are they?
Rgds


Well, HBK had a few exciting jobs then settled for CTC. He is often to be found at the LGW sims. Anthony Hampson Esq did time with Air UK/KLM and now sails his boat in the turkish seas half the year and freelance-TREs the rest of the time. Alan Coggs made a huge leap for stardom with a doomed Co and ended up with BMed. MCM is now Fleet Mgr BY. Chris Bourke sadly became ill and lost his licence. Last seen LGW sim about ten years ago. I wish I knew where Curly was. Jim (hello sailor) Lawn finished up at Bristow's LGW and lived only 100 yds from where I am typing this. I guess he moved back to Yarmouth for retirement. Fuller bought my shiny silver Capri from me and disappeared to the southwest. Piggy became very important with Air UK (or whatever they are called now...). He is still there, I think. Martyn visited us with his leggy swedish piece draped around his arm about twelve years ago. Hugely rich and a very important bond dealer in the far-east. Always could do a deal, that man. His loverly mother married a millionair norfolk farmer. True.

As for me, how could you possibly suspect I am that miserable old git who claimed to run the exec fleet? no-one ran it; it ran itself. If, by some very long chance, you don't actually bear a grudge, then I will admit it.
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Old 28th Oct 2005, 13:25
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no nooo.


Blett was never like that. Boundless enthusiasm and always the professional. It was only efforts by people like Blett that the thing kept going at all.

Bought a car from Soddy? You have GOT to be nuts.
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Old 28th Oct 2005, 15:32
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BTW, where is J.Soddy these days ?

Rgds, Sleeve.
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Old 28th Oct 2005, 18:46
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Chaps

J Soddy is in Mattishal near Dereham Norfolk, and sometimes
on Radio Norfolk doing the cricket.

Chris Crowther may be in the Wroxham Norfolk area
doing sailing instruction.

Regards

390
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