I remember watching the film, The Battle of Britain as a 5 year old with my father, and that was it, I had to be a pilot. The Air Cadets taught me to glide on T21 Sedberghs at Sealand, near Chester and then I gained my PPL on a Flying Scholarship, being taught by Barry Tempest. My first Commercial job took me to Aberdeen to fly Super Puma helicopters for Bristows during which time I flew a shared Piper Cub around the Highlands. Returning to the SE of England to fly airliners, I bought a share in my first Stampe, G-BWEF and fell in love with its handling and light controls and 20 years later, I have my own Stampe, G-HJSS.
I first met Chris Jesson and the Stampe Formation Team via an introduction from a friend of mine, Bill Merry and started training with the team in 2016. My first display was at Headcorn during the summer of 2017 and there have been numerous highlights since, including displaying at Old Warden, every pilots dream, and trips abroad to Antwerp and Pithiviers, to name just a couple. The camaraderie of flying in a team with trusted friends is a one of the best experiences I have had in over 21,000 hours of flying.
When Chris decided to retire from display flying in 2021 I stepped up into the position of team leader and I am now looking forward to continuing and developing the teams ethos and character but always preserving the spirit and feel of the 1940's with our beautiful bi-planes.
Having been a flying nut since listening to my Fathers wartime adventures as a rear gunner in Bomber Command. I saved up to learn to fly and in 1981 took lessons in the USA on Long Island. Working on the airstrip to help pay.
On my return I joined Air Touring flying club at Biggin Hill. I heard about the Tiger Club at Redhill Aerodrome who had Tiger Moths and being a vintage petrolhead it sounded just the club for me. I checked out on the Moth and once I was solo it afforded me access to the single seat turbulent which then led to me joining the Turbulent Formation team. Flying with the team for ten years with displays around the UK and in France and the Netherlands.
I joined the Tiger Club Biplane formation team in the late 1990's and have enjoyed flying with the team until the Tiger Club move away. I have been very fortunate to have access to display in Angus's Stampe when he was unable to display himself. A couple of years ago I bought a share in G-AYIJ which I fly in the Stampe Team today.
Knowing that my paternal grandfather had learned to fly in the Great War and inspired by the adventures of Biggles et al, avid model building as a teenager soon matured into actual flying courtesy of the School CCF and by the age of 18 I had completed both gliding and flying scholarships as well as a great deal of air experience flying. Further training on the Chipmunk followed at a University Air Squadron before alas the dream to join the RAF as a pilot collapsed due to eyesight issues.
However dreams never go away and seventeen years later I could finally afford to obtain my PPL and within a year had joined the Tiger Club with its range of exciting aircraft and activities. Instructing began five years later with display flying from 1997 as a member of the Turbulent team followed by my first lead in 2001. Two decades have now passed during which I have owned in succession a Bucker Jungmann, Pilatus P2-05 and a Turbulent, all of which have been display mounts. In addition to being a LAA Coach and an active member of the Tiger Club at Damyns Hall, I have a share in Stampe G-OODE which has now enabled me to join old friends in the Stampe Team at Headcorn and thus begin a new chapter in my aviation journey. It is such a privilege to fly these historic aircraft - long may our collective dreams continue.
Stuart comes from an aviation family, his Grandfather was in the Royal flying Corp and his father a wartime pilot and latterly a viscount captain with BEA and he opened the Shuttleworth Collection to the public in 1963. It is here that Stuart gained his love of old aircraft and aerobatics.
Stuart learnt to fly in New Zealand at the age of 17 and on returning to England flew as a Tug pilot at Dunstable and after gaining his CPL spent 8 years Crop Spraying for Bowker Air Services. He then joined Britannia on the 737 and after 2 years flew the 757/767 with them until early retirement when he joined TAG aviation flying the 757 Black Pearl on round the world trips. He has built various Pitts specials and imported Stampe G-JJGI from New Zealand and is based at Old Warden.
He has over 25,000 hrs and 200 aircraft types in his log book and regularly flies at the Shuttleworth Collection pilot and flies for various warbird operators including passenger flights in Spitfire and P51 Mustang.
1955! It all started with a plastic model spitfire....
My imagination was fired up - a few years later, joining the ATC gave me my first flight in a Chipmunk and I never looked back.
I Gained my PPL in a Tiger Moth in 1971 at Biggin Hill and then joined the Tiger Club in 1972 and things really took off from then - aerobatics, formation flying and air displays.
In 1979 I became a Commercial Pilot with Dan Air, eventually retiring from EasyJet in 2009 with 20800 hrs!
I flew in the biplane 4 with Tiger Club and this became the basis of our current 4' ship display. Working with a team like this is extremely rewarding - the team spirit being the heart of the display.
Having fallen in love with the Stampe at the Tiger Club, I had the opportunity of buying many pieces of a Stampe (roughly called an aircraft!) in 1990 and spent 9 years rebuilding her.
I have led large formations (up to 21 aircraft), a 13 ship formation over Gatwick during the ash crisis , over the Olympic flame at Leeds Castle and last but not least a diamond 9 over the Bomber Command Memorial at Beachy Head.
I also did solo aerobatic displays for a bit of light relief.
In 2021, at the age of 74 and after 56 years of flying, I decided to take a step back from active Air Display flying and took on the role as team manager. In the future I will be involved in the training of new pilots, fine tuning of the display act and negotiating team bookings.