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John Jeffries...Final glide!

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John Jeffries...Final glide!

Old 23rd Apr 2017, 13:39
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Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Nirvana..HAHA..just kidding but,if you can tell me where it is!
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John Jeffries...Final glide!

I feel it appropriate and worthy,to celebrate the passing of a true legend in the world of gliding.
On the 18th of December,2016, John,..known to us all as JJ,...passed away,after a long fight against cancer.
John had a lifetime association with the London Gliding Club,as manager and CFI.
His week long soaring courses,often carried out,at an average height of below 3000',provided many hair raising bar time recollections!..His trademark "pressing on" transmissions became known to all..
In 1978, for reasons known only to himself,John saw fit to employ a keen young PPL holder with a minimum number of taildragger hours,as the season tug pilot.
Being that person,I owe him a lifetime of gratitude.

My last contact with John was at Stoke Mandeville hospital,last summer,where with a friend,we took pleasure in telling him that he was actually in the "Jimmy Saville Ward"!
The look on his face was priceless!!

John flew in the Ash 25 right up to the final curtain,assisted by some very kind colleagues at Dunstable.

I know there will be many anecdotes that deserve to be shared,and I hope people will share them here.

So,JJ,..wherever you are right now,remember...back at Llangorse Lake.circa 1982, on the biannual Shobdon wave trip..if I had turned left instead of right,in the tug,..we would both have been there,together!!!! I'll see you a bit later..

Rest peacefully old friend!

Last edited by Yaw String; 7th May 2017 at 21:13.
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Old 24th Apr 2017, 09:37
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Rest in peace John. A true legend of the gliding world.
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Old 7th May 2017, 01:11
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Location: Norfolk, England
Age: 85
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John Jefferies

John was manager of LGC when the BEA Silver Wing Gliding Cl;ub was formed and we had a block membership at Dunstable before moving to Lasham and finally to Booker. I remember being checked out in the Sedburgh and then being sent off in a tutor which had no instruments!.
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Old 7th May 2017, 04:28
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Join Date: May 2011
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Sad to hear as a former LGC member. JJ was a great character and pilot.
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Old 12th May 2017, 11:33
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JJ had more influence on my flying than anyone else. I was a member of the LGC from 1977 until 1995 and during that time you could see the positive effect his leadership. It lasts even now in the hearts and minds of those who he "infected". This man just loved soaring and would do anything to get into the air. He was also fascinated by, of all things, sedges. He was also a superb writer and when he had a moment to spare, would chat up women, another of his loves. There was a picture of five of them by a glider in his office. "I know each one of those quite well!" He said. One of them also became his last wife, Gill.

Despite having what many would describe as a privileged education he had no airs or graces. He would support and help anyone who loved gliding. He could also swear beautifully. During a "lead-and-follow" when I was getting rather low over tbe water meadow near the centre of Oxford I called for help. "If you think you are rather f*****g low look down your wingtip". And there he was, barely 300' AGL trying to scratch away. And he made it. And you never flew too close to him. A reasonable distance was all he asked. Fly too close and you would get a pee bag in your face or he would just lose you.

My most memorable flight with him was in the Calif. John loved wave. We took off from Dunstable and slowly worked our way into the wave making first contact just to the west of Leighton Buzzard. Eventually we climbed above the cloud to 10-12,000'. At one point I remember crossing over a 'saucer' of cloud, breaking out of a cloud wall and crossing a flat surface of cloud looking down on a round rainbow with our shadow inside, the one you only really get in flight. I'll never, ever forget that moment. After a couple of hours of so he said "I suppose we had better work out where we are." I thought he always knew. But he was clueless, so intent was he in soaring. He was after wave and he got it and to a reasonable degree, sod everything else. But my limited map reading ability was being challenged because I initially couldn't place us. But the big city, motorway, airport and a particular reservoir meant we were right overhead, ahem, Birmingham. "I'm sure we are not" he said as we headed for home.

He also had a few crashes. I asked him why every report showed his hours in round thoudands. "Oh, I just add a thousand hours on between each prang old boy." was the answer. JJ's most interesting "arrival" was in Whipsnade Zoo in a camel enclosure when he was caught out by advection fog, also when wave soaring. This accident showed 10,000 hours nearly 30 years ago.

John was also pretty good as raising money for the club. He obtained thousands from the Sports Council and various businesses. The biggest single event he arranged was a the Artic Lite Championships. Loads of money and free beer. The only problem was that the beer was undrinkable. But it was a good effort though.

The world is a poorer place without him and despite not seeing him for years whenever I see wave clouds or a round rainbow I still think of him and will continue to do so.


Last edited by Piltdown Man; 14th May 2017 at 12:51. Reason: Telling his story better.
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Old 14th May 2017, 17:40
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Posts: 349
a perfect CAT3b No decision,into the camel enclosure indeed!

As one of the recovery team,I well remember his expressed words of gratitude that the footprints seen in the mud where not of Leo the Lion!
Certainly caught the attention of some fairly bemused visitors!

On that Sunday morning,as the visibility clamped down,we all placed bets as to where the phone call would come from....a true survivor.....
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Old 11th Jul 2021, 14:32
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Sorry to come to this thread rather long after the sad passing of one of gliding's legends and a man who I counted as both a friend and inspiration both in gliding and by his outlook on life. I feel it only right to record some personal recollections here for posterity.

I was lucky enough to have my first glider flight in his company and only in hindsight did I realise what a superb short example of soaring flight he gave me on a thermic but strong wind day - a very low release, straight flight in some streeting lift to Ivinghoe Beacon at fairly low altitude where we picked up enough height to cross to Ashridge, return to the Beacon where he "demonstrated" a thermal turn which gave us just enough height to return to the Dunstable ridge, do a 180 and land on the SW run in front of the W run launch point that we'd departed from. It all seemed so effortless that I signed up for a week's course there and then! Only as I gained experience did I come to realise how finely judged the flight had been.

JJ seemed to have a fatalistic outlook on life - try it, do it or enjoy trying to do it. I remember one of those Shobdon expeditions around 1980 where we arrived there to find that they had no fuel - and no prospect of any being delivered. JJ jumped into the club Land Rover and drove back to Dunstable, filled three 45 gallon drums with fuel from the Dunstable pump and returned immediately - one of the drums had a slight leak and after 150 miles slopping around in the back of the Land Rover the fumes were almost overpowering - and no doubt ridiculously dangerous. John's comment? "It's just as well that I don't smoke then!"

I was lucky enough to participate in a couple of JJ's soaring courses and remember being educated on one of his many other interests - arboriculture - after we both landed K18s in a field near Bury St. Edmunds and spent some of the time awaiting the tug for relights by surveying a nearby wood. Lift was almost non existent and after JJ had come off tow, the message came back with the tug pilot to tow to Tibenham where were to stay overnight in preparation for a great adventure the next day - pressing on slowly in cloud streets to the Welsh mountains during the day, climbing in wave lift in the early evening and final gliding to Dunstable before darkness fell to achieve at least 500 km. As I released near Tibenham, I looked down and there was JJ's K18 spinning...amusement turned to slight concern as it seemed to be getting close to the ground, followed by growing horror as I thought I was witnessing the demise of the great man but as I was just about to despair, the spin stopped over the end of the runway and the K18 straightened out and landed by the waiting pair of K18s who had stayed in weak lift when John and I had tried what was apparently a more promising prospect some way off track and then been told to try to get to Tibenham.

The great adventure? We spent the day trying to get away from Tibenham in the strong westerly which had been the key to John's plan and eventually dual towed home.Typical of JJ's eternal optimism when task setting!

JJ's fitness was legendary - but I've never seen him move so fast as when a young lady with a professional interest in removing clothing homed in on him at a stag party for a well known display pilot's forthcoming nuptials! He wasn't so quick to make himself scarce when he organised a photo shoot with Health & Efficiency though - the young lady involved was not appropriately attired for gliding but he managed to keep things so quiet that only the tug pilot standing on the wheel of the tug refuelling saw any of the proceedings in the dip below the pumps and she was fully dressed by the time those of us at the launch point were updated! When taken to task about his secrecy, the answer was simply one of those conspiratorial smiles that were so typical of him.

I last spoke to JJ at the LGC 75th anniversary open day and he expressed his intent to be at the 100th. Sadly he won't be there in person but perhaps I'll be able to help represent his memory if I'm still around - but I'm sure his spirit will be forever imprinted on that corner of Bedfordshire. So a belated thank you JJ for introducing me to such a wonderful hobby, giving me some of the very best times of my life and so many wonderful memories.

Last edited by scimart; 14th Jul 2021 at 20:39.
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