Avi­a­tion progress

Pilot - - PILOT -

Thank you, Pat Malone for such a thought­pro­vok­ing ar­ti­cle (‘The as­cent of man’, September). I very much en­joyed read­ing it as it re­flected what many of us in our 60s and 70s must have thought from time to time, mar­vel­ling at the avi­a­tion progress in our life­time.

I count my­self so lucky that I joined BEA (1958) as a gen­eral ap­pren­tice (in­den­tured) and got a fan­tas­tic ground­ing in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try. I had also just been taught to fly in Tiger Moths at White Waltham by the ex­cep­tional ATA pilot Joan Hughes. So much of what we did as part of our jobs was with­out com­put­ers or cal­cu­la­tors: load plan­ning and con­trol and the prepa­ra­tion of fuel flight plans us­ing maps and weather charts, all done long­hand. While in Moscow in 1976 I was com­plet­ing B707-336 fuel flight plans for the BOAC nine-hour flight from Moscow to Tokyo us­ing Rus­sian weather maps with ev­ery­thing in me­tres. It took about three hours to com­plete. Now it is all done by com­puter! I was also at LHR when Yuri Ga­garin vis­ited and we were hang­ing out of our of­fice win­dow shout­ing “Ga­garin! Ga­garin!” when he ap­peared. He was a hero to all of us.

Later I was for­tu­nate, as COO of Jet Avi­a­tion Saudi Ara­bia, to have an empty Con­corde as my per­sonal busi­ness jet for me and my fam­ily to fly from Lon­don to Jed­dah. We parked the air­craft out­side my of­fice at the FBO I had just con­structed, as we were do­ing the han­dling.

I am sure that many seventy-year-olds have their own very spe­cial mem­o­ries of avi­a­tion in this ex­cit­ing pe­riod that Pat Malone so clearly high­lighted. Gra­ham Stephen­son by email

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