By joining the RAF cadet contingent (CCF) at school, I soloed in a glider in July 1965 at the tender age of 16years. Through the CCF, I also was awarded an RAF Flying Scholarship which enabled me to gain a Private Pilots Licence (PPL) a year later. My training for this was at Thruxton, flying Jackaroos (a 4-seater Tiger Moth with a roof!) and Tiger Moths. After school, I Joined the College of Air Training at Hamble (owned and run by BOAC and BEA) in July 1967 and graduated in Dec 1968 - the training was entirely sponsored by the two airlines.
I joined BOAC in March 1969 as a “one-ring” Second Officer (pilot/navigator), flying on B707s and VC10s.
BOAC and BEA then merged and was privatised as British Airways (BA).
I then flew B737s, mainly on the Internal German System (IGS) based in Berlin when there was a bloody great big wall across the city!
I was promoted to Captain and flew B757s, mainly on UK shuttle routes. I was eventually “dual-rated” on the B767 when that aircraft was introduced, so flew a pleasing mixture of short and longhaul routes.
In 1996, I achieved my schoolboy ambition by being selected for the flagship Concorde fleet, and was eventually promoted to a check Captain (RCC).
When Concorde was sadly grounded permanently in 2003, I transferred to the B747-400 fleet, where, upon my retirement in July 2004, I was the most senior (longest-serving) line pilot in BA.
“Milestones” in my Concorde career were:-
Last pilot to fly a Concorde into Kai Tak airport, Hong Kong using the notorious chequerboard approach (19/9/97)
Last pilot to fly a Concorde at an airshow - the International Air Tattoo at Fairford on 25/7/98.
I flew the 25th anniversary Concorde flight to JFK.
I was a member of the crew on the “farewell” flight to Boston, which set a new East/West transAtlantic record on 8/10/03.
I flew the “farewell” flight to Manchester on 22/10/03, on the return of which I joined the BA002 and we carried out the only parallel landings performed side by side by two Concordes at Heathrow - me on 09L and the BA002 on 09R.
Not least, of course, was the last ever commercial Concorde flight - the BA001 from LHR to JFK on 23/10/03. The return flight next day, flown by Bannister, was the last schedule flight but it wasn’t a commercial one as all the passengers on it travelled for free by special invitation of BA.