Celebrating fifty years of Britain’s best-selling GA magazine
In Pilot fifty years ago
Fifty years ago, the December 1967 issue of Pilot & lightaeroplane (yes – I read that as lie-tear-o-plane too) had as its cover feature an article on the Britten-norman Islander, focussing on the new purpose-built factory at Bembridge on the Isle of Wight – ‘the most modern light aircraft production unit in Europe’. A shot of the factory floor shows one Islander, G-AVCN in the pre-flight test area (we know this from the detailed cutaway drawing of the factory also reproduced in the article) one in the paint shop and three more taking shape on the production line behind — salad days for B-N. De-registered in 2015, ‘Charlie November’ is no longer flying but remains in the care of the Britten-norman Aircraft Preservation Society.
Editor Brian Healy was welcoming the new IMC rating: ‘it is almost imperative that the private pilot who wants to fully utilise his licence must be proficient in instrument flying’.
Elsewhere, in an article entitled ‘Flying Club Flying’ (hmm) Dagmar Heller presented a comprehensive list of the flying training on offer and the costs for a selection of clubs around London and in the south-east of England. Rates varied between £6 and £9/hr for piston singles – the equivalent of £100 to £150 today, according to my Bank of England inflation calculator – and £20 and £30/hr (£330 to £500) for twins. You could complete a PPL in 35 hours and do it on the familiar Pipers or aeroplanes now rare in 2017 like the Champion Tri-traveller or Wassamer IV Baladoux (both then at the Flairavia Flying Club, Biggin Hill. As an article later in the magazine by A J Welch explains, clubs were offering instrument training on sims in 1967 in the form of WWII era Link trainer.
Finally, in the ‘general aviation review’ section – the prototype for ‘Pilot Notes’ – there was news of the Beagle Pup, upon which great hopes were pinned, and congratulations were offered to
Sheila Scott, who had just crossed the Atlantic solo the hard way, from east to west. Now there was an admirable lady pilot…