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Tony Belcher, British Midland

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Tony Belcher, British Midland

Old 14th Feb 2017, 14:30
  #1 (permalink)  
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Tony Belcher, British Midland

Sadly, I've just received the following news via the BMA Reunion forum:-

"We are all absolutely devastated to announce that Captain Tony Belcher passed away in the early hours of this morning. He would have liked to have let you all know about his illness but unfortunately he was only diagnosed a matter of weeks ago and it has all happened very quickly. When we have further details of his final departure we will advise you."

A sad loss indeed. He went from Daks to the F100 via the Argonaut, Viscount, DC9, the 707, and probably several other types. Much-loved by ground and cabin crew for his sense of humour, maverick tendencies, and natural approachability. A fine aviator, but no self-important Sky God.

I met him at my late uncle's funeral, and listened to some of his tales. There were many, many more in there, and probably many to be told by others of his antics.

RIP, sir.

Last edited by Midland 331; 14th Feb 2017 at 15:04.
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Old 14th Feb 2017, 14:58
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Much-loved by ground and cabin crew for his sense of humour, maverick tendencies, and natural approachability.
Oh how very true.

R.I.P Tony

Last edited by jethro15; 14th Feb 2017 at 21:14.
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Old 14th Feb 2017, 15:56
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Join Date: Jun 2008
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Very sad news. I am at least grateful I had the chance to catch up with him at the BMA London reunion late last year. Typical of him to make the effort to attend. It was great to reminisce with him after all these years.

He was genuinely a nice colleague with no pretentiousness whom it was a pleasure to work with right from my start in the 1970's.

My deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to his family.
M A 9
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Old 14th Feb 2017, 16:12
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Tony Belcher

Very saddened to hear this news. I had great times at BMA with Tony back in the 60's and early 70's: often quaffing the amber nectar in the Plough and Tanya Manor Club 'till the early hours. I still dine out on the story of when he took my Zephyr convertible without my knowing, and when I finally caught up with him, the oxyacetylene had transformed it into two halves! Apparently in an alcoholic moment I had hinted that it might be past its prime!
A great aviator (I seem to remember his very first landing in command of the Viscount had a 30 kt X-wind component!)
Tony, you will be sadly missed.
R.I.P.
JCH
 
Old 14th Feb 2017, 18:38
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Join Date: May 2006
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I am really sorry to hear of Tony's passing.
I would have been about twelve when he moved into the village where I was brought up in the West Riding. His Mum, a delightful lady, was the chemist. Tony would have been seventeen I imagine and was quite a character even then. He was like a magnet and since I lived opposite I spent many an hour helping him clean his motorbikes, starting with a Triton Dougstar (a combined Triumph/Norton/Douglas/Gold Star - which he created) and progressing to an AJS 650.
During his early flying days he flew from Blackpool in a trainer and buzzed our village - nobody knew for certain who the pilot was, but we all guessed, rightly, that it could only be Tony.
Our paths continued to cross and we next met on the apron at EMA when I joined BMA as a F/O on the Viscount. Many years later our families spent Christmas together in The Shelbourne, Dublin. In those days, if you volunteered to work away over Christmas the company paid for your family to be with you - those were the days.
Sorry to go on so long, I have so many wonderful memories of those days.
Blue skies Tony,
Stuart
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Old 15th Feb 2017, 10:56
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Capt Tony Belcher RIP

Larger than life character. Practical joker extraordinaire. One of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet……providing that you didn’t cross him !
Flying with Tony was always an education. An extremely capable pilot with a flexible way of interpreting the rules but, the worse the weather the better he was. In all the time I flew with him, there was never a moment when he wasn’t on top of the job.
I’ll never forget too that, when I first joined BMA, he and Di were the very first to invite us around for dinner one evening. That I suppose was a true introduction to why BMA in the 70s/80s was such a great airline. Nobody felt new for long.

Blue skies and light winds, Tony. Oh, and don’t cause too much trouble up there………
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Old 15th Feb 2017, 19:54
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Sad news and I too can testify that Tony was a great character.

One anecdote . . .

I flew as a First Officer with him on a LHR - MAN - LHR rotation. Coming in over the Peak District Tony looked down and saw the message 'PLEASE HELP . . . ' cut into the snow on a fell. He reported the message to ATC anD an extensive search was carried out to find out who needed the 'HELP'.

It turned out the complete message was 'PLEASE HELP DEIRDRE'.

'DEIRDRE', it turned out, was a character in Coronation Street who was in some difficulty in the series. Rather than wait for the next episode some sitcom devotee had sought help with a public message.

Classic, you couldn't make it up - and I didn't.

RIP and thanks for the laughs.
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Old 16th Feb 2017, 22:34
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Huh....That AJS 650, Samko I remember well. Three of us shared a converted hay loft in Bagshot, and Tony had the bike in bits for some reason. About 1962. We had CPLs, but no flying job offers since we were saving for the instrument rating. Anson was £17 per hour. Our wages about £11 per week. Tony for short while driving BEA catering trucks ( cabin crew in back of cab ). Commuted to his LAP shifts ( then known as ) by carrying an empty petrol can and thumbing a lift.
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Old 17th Feb 2017, 01:22
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Very sad to hear of Tony's passing he was, as many have alluded already, a larger than life character who often inspired a deeper interest in flying if only because of his aptitude for exploring the operational envelope. Like others on this thread I have often recounted anecdotes about Tony to colleagues in my later career he was, and is, fondly remembered as a source of high spirits and good humour.

Blue skies and fair winds Tony, and as Sleeve Wing remarked, don't cause too much trouble up there because some of us will be looking for accommodation before long.

RIP
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Old 20th Feb 2017, 15:28
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Originally Posted by Midland Alpha9 View Post
Very sad news. I am at least grateful I had the chance to catch up with him at the BMA London reunion late last year. Typical of him to make the effort to attend. It was great to reminisce with him after all these years.

He was genuinely a nice colleague with no pretentiousness whom it was a pleasure to work with right from my start in the 1970's.

My deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to his family.
M A 9
Ditto that A9 - the reunion at LHR in Oct was a hoot and Tony was in fine fettle - sad loss
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Old 20th Feb 2017, 15:32
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Originally Posted by Yarpy View Post
Sad news and I too can testify that Tony was a great character.

One anecdote . . .

I flew as a First Officer with him on a LHR - MAN - LHR rotation. Coming in over the Peak District Tony looked down and saw the message 'PLEASE HELP . . . ' cut into the snow on a fell. He reported the message to ATC anD an extensive search was carried out to find out who needed the 'HELP'.

It turned out the complete message was 'PLEASE HELP DEIRDRE'.

'DEIRDRE', it turned out, was a character in Coronation Street who was in some difficulty in the series. Rather than wait for the next episode some sitcom devotee had sought help with a public message.

Classic, you couldn't make it up - and I didn't.

RIP and thanks for the laughs.
oh lord that is so funny - i recall that lol
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Old 24th Feb 2017, 09:39
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From the BMA Reunion Group:-

Dear Colleagues,

Tony's Final Flight Plan has now been filed and the routing will be as follows:

Departure will be on Friday 10th March at 1215 at St. Paul's Church, Woodhouse Eaves, LE12 8RT, and afterwards at The Griffin Inn, LE12 8TJ, Swithland, Leicestershire.

We hope that his many friends will be there to wish him well on his final flight.


The Reunion Group
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Old 24th Oct 2019, 08:45
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Thank you Captain Belcher

I know this thread is 2 years old but I would just like to post my little thoughts on Captain Belcher whom many of you seem to remember with much affection. I'm not an aviator except as a passenger and flying flight simulators, but I have always had more than a passing interest in aviation. I am a member of this forum but generally keep quiet!

Back in the early to mid 90's I was a passenger on a holiday flight back to EMA from most likely Menorca. Shortly after take off I asked the stewardess if there was any chance of seeing the cockpit. I was an adult male in my early 30s not a 10 year old! I was most surprised when the reply came that the captain had agreed. I went through to the cockpit and found both the captain and co pilot chatting away. I was immediately enthralled at the view from the front, and all the instrumentation. Captain Belcher introduced himself and his name has been etched on my mind ever since.

Now I can't say he was immediately welcoming. It was more a case of 'here we go, another one coming for a look'! However, I soon started asking a few questions that made Captain Belcher recognise that I at least had some knowledge what was happening with the flying and navigation. He immediately started to warm up and explain and expanded my understanding. Within a few minutes he asked me what did I do? I'm a Crime Scene Investigator I explained. He was immediately listening and interested.

He wanted to know more. It then turned out I had worked on a case he had personal knowledge of. He asked me to stay and I was strapped into the jump seat! We swopped stories and he asked me to stay for the complete flight, landing and taxi to the stand!

It was an experience I have never forgotten and I still occasionally recount today! Now of it possible any longer of course since 9/11. I have never forgotten him and it was the very reason I found this thread. With Google I looked up Captain Belcher, British Midland. During the flight back his wit was apparent, he joked and clearly was a larger than life character.

I won't bore with the details, but it was clear Captain Belcher was also known to people on the ground at the other end of the radio whom he warmly joked with as part of a wider conversation. I will stress that he was professional and conscientious throughout the flight. I only knew the man about 2 hours, but he left me enjoying his company and remembering the experience he gave me ever since. I have sometimes wondered what happened to him.. A sad end but thank you Tony Belcher.
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Old 25th Oct 2019, 05:56
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I joined BMA at LHR in 1977 and I think on my first day Tony was one of the first skippers I met on the DC-9 and the story began..........

We became great friends and he came to our BMA LHR reunion 3 years ago along with a few of our Flight deck colleagues and the many ground staff from the 70's and 80's, and he was in great form - he was fine - sadly at Xmas he was told some bad news but they thought they could kick it, but he died in Feb 2017.

His funeral was a marvellous send off to a fine and interesting man.

He told me in 2016 his Dad, a Capt in the Manchester Regiment was killed in the bloody Battle of Leros in 1943 and that his grave was never found.

I told Tony I go to those Greek Islands alot and was going to be in Rhodes and Symi soon - I popped over to Leros on the ferry and met some old Greek folk, asked a few questions about the delicate times on the islands during Occupation etc and an old lady dressed in black took me to a little cemetery where there were around a dozen unmarked graves ''soldier'' from Oct 1943 - Tony's Dad had been found.

Last edited by rog747; 26th Oct 2019 at 06:00.
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Old 25th Oct 2019, 17:10
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Well done, Rog. Beyond the call of duty would fit the bill I think.
Perhaps Simon would like to know of your efforts to find his Grandad and maybe you could point him in the right direction should he wish to visit.
Maybe he'll see it here on PPRuNe too, if you're not in contact. He's still a Captain with BA of course.
You'll have pleased Di and the family no end.
BTW, I too was at the reunion and chewed the fat with Tony for quite a while. Always a good conversation.
Regards, Sleeve.

Last edited by Sleeve Wing; 25th Oct 2019 at 20:41.
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Old 25th Oct 2019, 18:35
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Reading this reminded me of another example of Tony's humour. Others may correct me as to the details of this story but it goes something like this:

Many moons ago Capt Belcher was in the hold for Heathrow inbound from Scotland for a turn round back north. Heathrow was experiencing severe delays due to low vis procedures. Midland pilots knew Heathrow inside out and Belcher confidently knew his arrival gate and departure gate. Not wanting to get involved in a lengthy delay he called Clearance for his next sector whilst still in the hold.Clearance back north was duly granted and Belcher taxied onto stand on time and departed on time for the next sector whilst all other departures suffered lengthy delays!

Heathrow rumbled what had happened and subsequently changed their procedures.
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Old 25th Oct 2019, 20:52
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No need to correct you, Yarpy, old mate. Perfectly likely with someone as sharp as Tony...AND he would have rapidly worked out the probable timings of the whole situation in seconds before committing himself.
Others took similar action if faced with similar delays and not just at LHR. Palma often needed similar treatment when French ATC were up to their usual Summer season shenanigans. It's just that we would probably get a departure request in a touche later, eg. as we were taxying up to the arrivals gate ! Monarch had an even better scheme for manipulating ATC delays but that's another story !
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Old 26th Oct 2019, 05:54
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Originally Posted by Sleeve Wing View Post
Well done, Rog. Beyond the call of duty would fit the bill I think.
Perhaps Simon would like to know of your efforts to find his Grandad and maybe you could point him in the right direction should he wish to visit.
Maybe he'll see it here on PPRuNe too, if you're not in contact. He's still a Captain with BA of course.
You'll have pleased Di and the family no end.
BTW, I too was at the reunion and chewed the fat with Tony for quite a while. Always a good conversation.
Regards, Sleeve.
Yes I have a nice photo of you both at the bar with a pint in hand 3 years ago LOL
I think Tony did tell his family about his Dad and what I found out - I spoke to his daughter and Simon at the funeral too.
Best R.
Hope you are keeping well .
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Old 26th Oct 2019, 05:58
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Originally Posted by Yarpy View Post
Reading this reminded me of another example of Tony's humour. Others may correct me as to the details of this story but it goes something like this:

Many moons ago Capt Belcher was in the hold for Heathrow inbound from Scotland for a turn round back north. Heathrow was experiencing severe delays due to low vis procedures. Midland pilots knew Heathrow inside out and Belcher confidently knew his arrival gate and departure gate. Not wanting to get involved in a lengthy delay he called Clearance for his next sector whilst still in the hold.Clearance back north was duly granted and Belcher taxied onto stand on time and departed on time for the next sector whilst all other departures suffered lengthy delays!

Heathrow rumbled what had happened and subsequently changed their procedures.
Yes all true - apparently the BA 757 or maybe was it a Trident crew waiting to push on the stand next door heard the RT exchange then looked over at B4 and said ''but he's not even here yet''........ lol
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