The ul­ti­mate type hunter

Pilot - - PILOT NOTES - a pas­sen­ger. We pay trib­ute to the late Ed­win Shack­le­ton, who set a record for rides in air­craft that will never be equalled

We are sad to re­port the death of Ed­win Shack­le­ton, who passed away on 7 Septem­ber, aged 91. Ed­win held (and will surely for­ever hold) the

Guin­ness Book of Records ti­tle for hav­ing flown in the most dif­fer­ent types of air­craft – 879. His first flight ex­pe­ri­ence was in March 1943 in a de Hav­il­land Do­minie when he was an Air Train­ing Corps cadet. There fol­lowed trips in Miles Martinet, Bris­tol Beau­fort, Lock­heed Hud­son and Ven­tura, and B-17 Fortress. Post­war, af­ter a brief spell with Miles Air­craft and two years’ Na­tional Ser­vice in the RAF, he joined the Bris­tol Aero­plane Com­pany at Fil­ton as a struc­tural test en­gi­neer, serv­ing for 38 years dur­ing which he worked on the Bri­tan­nia, BAC 1-11 and Con­corde (on the lat­ter he was later to make a day trip to Cairo, rid­ing on a camel that same day, thus ex­pe­ri­enc­ing two ex­tremes of the trans­port spec­trum!).

Ed­win had been an avi­a­tion en­thu­si­ast since his ‘Spot­ters’ Club’ days dur­ing WWII, and was a reg­u­lar air­show vis­i­tor, but did not be­come ac­tively in­volved un­til 1973 when he joined the In­ter­na­tional Air Tat­too team for the first Green­ham Com­mon air show. He also helped or­gan­ise the four Avon Air Days at We­ston­super-mare in the early 70s, took on the com­men­ta­tor’s role for the first Pop­u­lar Fly­ing As­so­ci­a­tion Wes­sex Strut Fly-in at Hen­stridge, and this de­vel­oped into a reg­u­lar slot at the Bad­minton Air Days since 1981.

His ex­tra­or­di­nary tally of air­craft flown in in­cluded his first trip in a he­li­copter, when he and his late wife Irene flew in a Bri­tish Euro­pean Air­ways Bris­tol Sy­camore on a sched­uled ser­vice from Southamp­ton to Northolt. Sub­se­quently he was to fly in fifty dif­fer­ent types of ro­tor­craft, from Wing Com­man­der Ken Wal­lis’s au­t­o­gyro to a French Su­per Frelon. Home­builts, glid­ers, bal­loons and air­ships were all fair game to Ed­win, and in­cluded the bizarre Cameron D96 hot-air air­ship, Goodyear air­ship, Bal­lon­fab­rik K630 hy­dro­gen bal­loon and Rupert Bear and Ber­tie Bas­sett spe­cial-shape bal­loons.

Aside from his wartime rides, among Ed­win’s log of WWII air­craft were Lysander, Sword­fish, P-51 Mus­tang, a rare two-seat P-38 Light­ning, Cur­tiss Hell­diver, Martin Ma­rauder, B-29 Su­per­fortress and Junkers Ju 52/3m, but the high­light was a trip at Bad­minton in 1985 in the two-seat Spit­fire flown by the late Nick Grace. Mil­i­tary jets in­cluded Me­teor, Vam­pire, Can­berra, Jet Provost, Gnat, Hunter and Czech Delfin and Al­ba­tros jet train­ers. From a much ear­lier era, the Avro Avian which Lang Kidby flew solo to Aus­tralia (not with Ed­win aboard!) to com­mem­o­rate Bert Hin­kler’s 1929 flight, and a Vick­ers Vimy replica. Not all of Ed­win’s flights were in­side the air­craft or landed at air­fields. He wing-walked on one of Vic Nor­man’s Yugo Cars-spon­sored Stear­mans, and landed in a B-N Is­lan­der aboard the air­craft car­rier HMS Her­mes, th­ese, like many other of his ex­ploits, recorded on film by his long -time friend and Pi­lot ‘OldTimers’ edi­tor Peter March. And of course there was his name­sake – a five-hour sor­tie over the North Sea in a RAF Avro Shack­le­ton mar­i­time re­con­nais­sance air­craft.

Not con­tent with air­craft, in 2009 Ed­win set out to travel in or on as many dif­fer­ent types of trans­port as pos­si­ble, quickly reach­ing 100 to be dubbed ‘The Ton-up OAP’ by his lo­cal Bris­tol news­pa­per, and soon dou­bling that num­ber.

Ed­win’s son Michael per­haps sums his fa­ther up most suc­cinctly. “He was al­ways full of fun and laugh­ter. He never took life too se­ri­ously and made the most of what he had.”

If there are any two-seat an­gels up there, by now Ed­win will surely have cadged a ride.

CLOCK­WISE FROM LEFT: get­ting air­borne in the Spit­fire – ‘Ed­win’s finest hour’; the one that caused Ed­win to change his trousers – a flight in the CAF’S two-seat P-38J Light­ning Scat­ter­brain Kid in 1992 left them soaked in hy­draulic fluid, af­ter the air­craft de­vel­oped an hy­draulic leak; unique take­off and land­ing by Is­lan­der on HMS Her­mes off the south coast; Ed­win with his sec­ondGuin­ness Book of World Records cer­tifi­cate af­ter fly­ing in an RAF Mer­lin he­li­copter in 2005; and fly­ing in the sole sur­viv­ing Avro Avian

Ed­win and Vimy replica, 2006

Ed­win fly­ing with record breaker Ken Wal­lis in his two-seat WA122 au­t­o­gyro

Not al­ways in the cock­pit – here 'wing­walk­ing' on a Stear­man in 1988

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