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Fairflight Biggin Hill

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Fairflight Biggin Hill

Old 25th Nov 2014, 07:21
  #81 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Wetter ( Ruhr )
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This Is a great Thread Biggin was very special for many of us The Club that had the fourniers was Sport Air, I myself flew from King Air And then as an Instructor at the Civil service Club before moving on to Commercial Regarding King-Air did they not have an Apache and not an Aztec. They were very happy day's
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Old 25th Nov 2014, 10:21
  #82 (permalink)  
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KingAir had Apache G-ARJV which I believe was Orange!
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Old 25th Nov 2014, 17:28
  #83 (permalink)  
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Did my PPL (RN flying scholarship) at Biggin in 64 on the Fournier Aercoupe with the Surrey and Kent Flying Club - was that it?

I seem to recall the CFI may have been Chinn.

I had a circuit in a Proctor (maybe Prentice) as recompense for helping the owner to get it going.

At 17 the guy who owned it seemed really old to me.
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Old 25th Nov 2014, 18:07
  #84 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Hello all, this seems to be turning into a Biggin Hill discussion rather than Fairflight but then Fairflight was an integral part of Biggin in those days of course. And great days they were, never to be seen again
Try Forney Aircoupe at Surrey and Kent and yes the CFI was Peter Chinn.
They also still had Tigers and Chipmunks which were used for the spinning among other things.
There were Proctors and Prentices around Biggin at that time, and still are actually.

<LI class=g>Biggin Hill Reunited


BigginHillReunited.co.uk is the website for the Biggin Hill Airport Users Database
and the "Bump Reunion". Formed in 1998, the purpose was to bring together ...

<LI class=g>Biggin Hill Airport Social Club Ltd

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Old 25th Nov 2014, 19:35
  #85 (permalink)  
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Location: Looking for the signals square at LHR
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t211 - you are of course, correct; anno domini is catching up fast! It was an Apache and it seems odd that I should make the mistake because I logged a few hours in it on several occasions, some with Cyril the Squirrel. I have to say I never much cared for the type - fuel systems much too complicated and a simulated engine out was a nightmare as remembering which systems went out with which engine added to the workload. Redundancy was not a strongpoint.

But it has occurred to me that one who took his multi on a Miles Gemini with 90hp per side should not be too scathing of the PA23. It was not a bad trainer and a good preparation for more sophisticated machines - I'm thinking particularly of the Baron and Twin Com.

In the interests of accuracy, I have amended my earlier post. Thanks for the correction and to 390cruise for his contribution. I never understood the colour scheme which didn't flatter an already unprepossessing design. The Aztec did look a lot better.

All of which has little to do with Fairflight but it is hard to think of Biggin without being assaulted by memories of what probably was an unique place. They are a natural expansion of the thread.
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Old 25th Nov 2014, 19:46
  #86 (permalink)  
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Old 26th Nov 2014, 19:08
  #87 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Uckfield, East Sussex
Posts: 70
Biggin Hill

Remember the Fairflight 'Bandits'..
I look back fondly to Biggin in the 70's... I had always wanted to fly since my first flight in a Heron from Jersey to Soton at a tender age.
I managed to get a job as a sales rep (goodness knows how!) at the tender age of 19, and having sold my mini, had at least enough to make a start.
Walked nervously into KingAir, ignored by most of the in-crowd, but one friendly guy with a 'Midlands accent' came over .... Don Potter (he probably later regretted it) then taught me to fly.

Once you were part of the Club, people were generally very friendly.. I remember Gordon with a sense of humour as dry as the large gin he had after a day's flying. Lillian was the front-of house Dragon, and lovely Eileen & Bill Barnes.

Cyril was a legend.. gruff & grumpy, but taught me so much.. he'd reach for his baccy pouch after start-up, then you would have the Old Holborn fumes for the rest of the lesson, like it or not!

Some 'strange' instructors came & went... Cyril used to tell a tale of an instructor, hastily hired, who sent his student off on an x/c, only for the chap to call a Mayday mid-channel when he was supposed to be flying to Southend! Turns out the 'Instructor' had absconded from a local asylum, having read enough aviation books during his incarceration to be sufficiently convincing at interview! (Apparently he was swiftly taken back post-incident!)
Another one I remember was Dow-Smith, used to don his white gloves before instructing in G-BAIO, his favorite mount!

Fond days though, loved every minute!!
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Old 27th Nov 2014, 01:42
  #88 (permalink)  
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Living only 5 miles from Biggin I had my first ever flight there in the 50's some time at a Battle of Britain air day on a Rapide joy flight and the next year my second flight in a Bell 47.
In the 60's I similarly went to check out the flying clubs to start PPL training having already been solo glider flying with the ATC. After shopping around I ended up at Alouette Flying Club and started on the Taylorcraft Plus D Auster, HNG and FZI, Don Perch was the CFI, and the price was 4 guineas an hour The club had an arrangement with the County Flying Club to operate the aircraft at other than weekends so I also had the pleasure of flying with CFI Mick Ronayne and instructors Bob Needham and Steve Haye. Also got to fly the Tiger Moth to do the spinning, not knowing then that some years later I would instruct on the very same aircraft, OES and NKB during weekends off from the RAF. Soon after my first solo I got an ATC flying scholarship and finished my PPL at Surrey and Kent Flying Club on the Aircoupe, with spinning and aeros in the Chipmunk thrown in for good measure. CFI was Peter Chinn and instructors Tiny Marshall, John Willis, Mike Nash-Wortham and Brian Johns.
Soon after that I left to join the RAF but would eventually return to Biggin and Fairflight to fly variously the Dove, Heron, Navajo Chieftain, Aztec, Twin Comanche, Bandeirante, Zingu, Learjet and Citation.
When Air Ecosse got going additional types were Twin Otter, Rockwell 690, Trislander and Shorts Shed and Super Shed in Aberdeen.
When asked what aircraft the company flew some wag, probably Faulkner, replied, one of everything !!
Those were days, the likes of which will never be seen again.
I remember that after one CAA inspection in the Dove and Heron era which resulted in the AOC being suspended for a week for various infractions of the regulations we were described by the inspector as having a cavalier attitude, which made us immensely proud !!
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Old 27th Nov 2014, 02:16
  #89 (permalink)  
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On the names of Surrey and Kent instructors in the 60's i missed out Cyril Pegram, sorry Cyril if you are reading this.
GAROI was of course the flagship Dove of Fairflight and Fred's baby. I had the sad task of finally taking it to new owners in either Belgium or Holland, not sure which now, but it was brought by a parachute club to replace a Rapide. Having arrived there in lousy weather the parachutists immediately started getting ready to go up for a jump so we took the seats out and probably the door off, ten or so of them piled in and we climbed up over the airfield in cloud to 10000ft and they all jumped out. Don't think the CAA would have been terribly keen on that had they ever known.
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Old 27th Nov 2014, 14:09
  #90 (permalink)  
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Rhys - thank you for a really interesting link.

Later on Peter was checked out in a Tiger Moth (a real tail dragger) operated by the late Tim (Oily) Doyle of West Essex Flying Club who had appeared mysteriously overnight like a ‘Geni’ from a bottle. He seemed to arrive complete with a small clubhouse and aircraft.

Oily Doyley was indeed a somewhat saturnine character who, when I last saw him, was operating on a shoestring (like so many in those days) from one of Biggin's many "creosote cabins". His fleet had been reduced to the ex-Norman Niblock DHC1 and this I flew quite regularly when it was complete but often I would arrive to find something missing - disgruntled creditors regularly removed bits. On one occasion I had to walk up to Fairflight (back on topic!) to pay for the 100 hour check and get the propellor back. If I knew how to do these things, I could post a photo of him pulling the prop for me on G-AMXL.

Tim was an amusing cove and I liked him; I'm sorry to learn that he has flown west. Does anyone know why/when?

Interesting too to see a picture of John Bryan in the same publication. We've both put on the odd pound since we last saw each other at Biggin 45 years ago!

On reflection, Biggin really was a magical place. I have not been back for very many years but I suspect I would hate the loss of what used to be, replaced by the ghastly pretension which I don't doubt has accompanied it's "elevation" to the status of an International Airport.
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Old 27th Nov 2014, 20:23
  #91 (permalink)  
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Apologies for furthering the drift from the real subject of the thread but given mention of Tim Doyle, I feel it appropriate to add a few more words about my youthful experiences at Biggin.

Prior to working at Fairflight I had also worked during weekdays for Mr. Doyle who operated the West Essex Flying Club and did so on a shoestring that was well past its best, already very much frayed and surely anyway originating from a pair of Chinese plimsols rather than anything akin to a decent pair of Irish brogues.

The 'club' flew a small handful of bright yellow Condors (these I am sure being made of wood) and G-AMXL which can be seen here as it looked back then

De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk 22, G-AMXL, West Essex Flying Club

One of the sheet metal fabrications of Bill Burrup(?) that so amazed me (mentioned above) was a completely new inlet manifoldfor this machine which he made to replace the one that had perhaps more substance from previous repairs than remains of the original. I remember this particularly well as my teenaged self was entrusted to the tasks of both removing and refitting it.

My contract was no more than a verbal agreement supported by a very modest wad of cash at the end of the week with no mention of such complications of taxes or national insurance. I was anyway dismissed after a slightly unfortunate event which, just perhaps, will have some other reader of this thread making a connection that may bring me a little damnation these forty five or so years after the event.

During the same period of working for Tim during the week, I was also continuing with my previous part time weekend job of refuelling aircraft from Stan's shed on the apron. One weekend there was some sort of cross country rally and among a number of planes lined up for fuel was a maroon and cream Auster with which I was not familiar but which had a belly as well as an over wing tank.
I am not precisely sure now which of the tanks I was unaware of but one did not get filled and as a result, the aircraft ended up making a forced landing in a corn field, thankfully with no serious damage to either it or its crew.
Whether it was because the plane was on loan to, hired by or carrying Oily I cannot recollect - but a couple of days later when my involvement had become apparent, I was duly dismissed on the spot. Any argument that it might have been the pilots responsibility to check he had adequate fuel onboard prior to flying was clearly not to be considered!

As for following on from this little tale with one about the grass fire that occurred right next to the West Essex hanger... No, I think I might just keep quiet about that for a few more years (though there really is no connection whatsoever between the mentioned events...)

On reflection, Biggin really was a magical place. I have not been back for very many years but I suspect I would hate the loss of what used to be, replaced by the ghastly pretension which I don't doubt has accompanied it's "elevation" to the status of an International Airport.

To be sure, you would hardly recognise the place now - not that you can see very much without a means to get past the security restrictions - and what you would recognise, you would probably prefer not to see. It would perhaps be much like meeting up with an old flame who has not worn the intervening years well. Better to hold on to the images of fond memories.
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Old 29th Nov 2014, 10:20
  #92 (permalink)  
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Fourniers on t'other side...

Hi Gipsy Queen,

To answer your question that would be Sportair Flying Club, which morphed into Sportair Flying Centre and then became the home of Quantel for 25 years

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Old 29th Nov 2014, 10:50
  #93 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: uk
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This thread triggered some happy memories....my log book shows my twin conversion at Biggin in August 68 in Aztec A G-ASND, with Mr Ladd (flight test by Mr Chinn), then it seems I got the urge to experiment and checked out in Beagle Pup GASZO with Mr Shires, then a few solo local flights in that as well as the Aztec, then some flights learning aeros in Chipmunk G-APPM with Mr Dalziel, of which the last was memorable as we flew gently back with the fabric peeling back from the main spar to the trailing edge. And finally, it seems I had a go in Wassmer Balladou G-ASHJ (20 Nov 68) with Mr Dalziel, presumably while the Chippie was being repaired.

I simply cannot remember which club/school all this took place at!

Ah yes, Fairflight; in a later life, I was responsible for the Navajo Chieftain we chartered for PDO in Oman in the 1970s to operate alongside our Skyvans and F27s, for their senior managers to travel in to the coal-face. The only names that spring to mind are Mr Diaz the engineer and the Mulligans......one of whom I came across quite recently at Southend with unaltered methods of running a small air charter operation.....

Last edited by old,not bold; 29th Nov 2014 at 11:09.
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Old 1st Dec 2014, 22:56
  #94 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: abroad
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Kingair and Fairflight

rogerbucks comments above bring back happy memories of the various characters of Biggin Hill. I learnt to fly with Cyril Knight in 1976 and was instructions at Kingair from later that year through 1978. GARJV saw me round the CAFU I/R test at Stansted and then I landed the prized job of flying the big fast Navajo for Fairflight. Very soon after I was fortunate to be offered a job flying Viscounts. I felt that this was to big an opportunity to miss so left Biggin for Castle Donington and British Midland. Even now when in the BIG hold I look down and nearly 40 years pass just like that. Happy days indeed.
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Old 4th Dec 2014, 21:10
  #95 (permalink)  
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Location: Looking for the signals square at LHR
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rogerbucks comments above bring back happy memories of the various characters of Biggin Hill. I learnt to fly with Cyril Knight in 1976 and was instructions at Kingair from later that year through 1978.

Cyril certainly was one of Biggin's characters. Often when the weather was 10/10ths and everyone was grounded, there would be the sound of an engine somewhere in the circuit and it nearly always was Cyril stooging about up there. I once suggested to him that all his flights were to IFR due either to the density of cloud outside or the billows of smoke from his filthy pipe inside and which no amount of pleading could pursuade him to extinguish; this precluded any notion of VMC. Such subtle hints as opening the clear view panel in flight or turning on the panel lights and squinting at the instruments went completely unheeded.

I didn't fly often with Cyril but after a trip in his company, my wife always knew - "You've been up with HIM again!" I wonder where he might be now. I last saw him at Lillian's birthday party in, I think, 1973.
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Old 18th Nov 2015, 22:57
  #96 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: monmouth
Posts: 2
andy diamond

hi all.

Came across this site yesterday and thought I had better get in touch.

I remember fairflight and all the various crews well even at my age. even though I am not as old as some of you.

After leaving biggin I have worked all over the place. Bristow helicopters, dan air ( now feeling old) Jet aviation in Basil etc etc.

very sorry to hear about Mike Coppen and Barry Lawless and stuart.

In answer to one question about the Indian gent who worked in the hanger. it was Raju (Roger) Mani who joined forces with Peter Prescott who had Ace Tech who were in the Surrey and Kent hanger. I worked there with Pat Patal, Calvin weeden and others looking after the S and K fleet of pups etc.

Just reading the forum has brought back many memories and I could go on for ever but wont bore you.
Would love to hear from all of you.

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Old 19th Nov 2015, 23:43
  #97 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: canada
Posts: 117
Hi Andy, have you fixed any flying machines lately, good to hear you are sitting up and taking nourishment.
Happy days, never to be seen again, at Fairflight.
Where and when were you at Bristow's, 60th anniversary this year, and Ken Bradley just croaked, age 89.
Keep taking the beer.
Cheers, Rhys
[email protected]
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Old 24th Nov 2015, 19:40
  #98 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2015
Location: monmouth
Posts: 2
andy diamond

hi rhys.
Just logged on and so good to read a message from someone from old days at fairflight.
At Bristows for only a short time 82-83 then on to Jet Aviation Bassel for three years. then went to Metair at West Malling for many years where i was a grease monkey and ran the tower until the airfield was closed.
Could not resist getting old log book out and saw that you had done my gft training before Peter Ocke passed me off. haha
Many memories of flying together afterwards but hey this conversation could go on for ever.
I am now living in Monmouth (wales) as I married a dragon, but I am at Biggin on the 8th and 9th of December if you and others want to catch up at some bar or other?

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Old 19th Dec 2015, 14:04
  #99 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: canada
Posts: 117
Hi Andy, good to hear your news, got your e.mail but lost it, if you can send again I can reply. Not able to make it to Biggin to meet up this time, it's rather a long way to go for a pint.
Cheers, Rhys
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Old 30th Dec 2015, 22:32
  #100 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: nr Ely, Cambs
Age: 56
Posts: 364
Lovely to see the Fairflight link. Whilst I do not have a direct connection with the company I remember with gratitude a couple of trips round the circuit as a "thank you" for helping out with the pleasure flights during the Biggin Hill air shows during the late 1970's. Passengers were transported to/from the aircraft in an old Routemaster bus. Remember a fellow cadet hanging off the platform at the back and skating along the peri track on his hobnail boots. All went well until his boots encountered a raised tar expansion joint in the concrete, boots stopped, the rest of him didn't. You can guess the rest. Thank you for those flights, they nourished an interest in aviation that continues 30 plus years later.
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