up in the shadow of Lee on Solent Naval Air Base it may have been
inevitable that I ended up wanting to fly. But, having said that, one
of my brothers ended up messing about in boats and going fishing and
the other ended up driving trains. But, enough about them, let's talk
I made loads and loads of Airfix kits when I was
younger until I realised that girls thought it was uncool. At about
that time I was getting into playing guitar and, if truth was told,
that didn't help my cool much and girls were still not interested in
me. Oh well.
The aviation interest remained dormant for a few
years until I discovered how much was going on in aircraft
preservation. This was in the early 1980s and there was a lot of
activity just starting. The values of old aeroplanes had reached the
point when it became economical to rebuild them and so many interesting
aeroplane were emerging.
I spent my time attending airshows,
taking photographs, reading magazines and making more models but
something always seemed to be missing. I could wait enthusiastically
for an airshow and then find that when I left I felt deflated and
Ferte Alais remains one of those 'must visit' places. These pictures
were taken during the 2012 show, l to r, the Morane 138, Bleriot XIbis,
In 1987 I visited France to attend the annual
airshow at La Ferte Alais, south of Paris. After a good lunch (OK, a
sandwich and half a bottle of wine) I got talking to the man standing
next to me. We shared a common interest or two and stayed in touch. The
following year we wenr to the show again and stayed at his house. He
has now been a good friend for over 25 years. He visited Le Bourget in
the summer of 1988 and met a group of people that were rebuilding a
SPAD XIII. I thought this sounded like a lot of fun and so started
reseaching World War One aeroplanes. This group of people morphed into
the Memorial Flight Association and I
am proud to have been associated with them for over 25 years and to
have been involved in some excellent flying restorations.
magnificent SPAD XIII 4377 was the first of the Memorial Flight
rebuilds to fly. This aeroplane was built in February 1918 and is the
last genuine SPAD flying.
finallly started learning to fly in 1992 initially at Old Sarum and
then at Thruxton under the guidance of Simon Cotterell and Barry Dyke.I
made the decision to learn on a tailwheel aeroplane and so my first
solo was on 2 June 1992 on Rollason Condor G-AVOH. I finished my
licence in October 1992 and from then on I realised that the
frustration I had felt at airshows was down to the fact that I was not
flying, once I started it was as if part of me that had been missing
was now in place.
I was also writing for Aeroplane Monthly at this time and got to meet some of the great characters in aviation.
An early publicity photo of a Rearwin Cloudster (Eric Rearwin) Rebuilt NC25403, now G-EVLE being flown in November 2006 by Martyn Carrington
1993 I acquired Rearwin Cloudster NC25403 which was listed as 'complete
and ready for reassembly' and just needing a new engine. Finding an
engine took several years and when recovering of the aeroplane started
it was clear there was a lot of work to do. The Rearwin had a complete
ground up restoration between December 2000 and March 2005 when Stuart
Goldspink took it for its first post restoration flight at Popham
airfield where it remains based.
Owning and operating the
Rearwin has been very interesting. I was lucky enough to meet Ken
Rearwin, son of the founder of the company and the man that flew my
aeroplane from Kansas to California in 1939 and I have also been able
to take Ken's grandson, Eric, flying in the aeroplane his grandfather
The Rearwin is fun to fly and very gentle in the air
but can be tricky on landing. I have flown it to France to visit La
Ferte Alais and to Antwerp and have attended fly ins all over Southern
England. I have also displayed it at Brooklands, Sywell and Old Warden.
1994 I answered an ad in Pilot magazine for part time airshow
commentators and I then spent several years commentating for Brian
Lecomber's Firebird Aerobatics Team, which operated the
Microlease Pitts, and later Extra 300L and the Rover Aerobatic
Team with Brian, Nick Wakefield, Alan Wade and John Taylor. This also
led me to radio and TV interviews and eventually full airshows.
have also been lucky enough to do some fun photography including air to
air with Delmar Benjamin's GeeBee, on a really murky day in France,
some fun stuff with the Memorial Flight, and some nice work with both
Aerosuperbatics and Wingwalking.co.uk.
time is spent at Popham airfield, which is one of the best environments
for aviation in the UK. I am currently rebuilding the engine on the
Rearwin and so flying is somewhat limited.
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