Current activities

As the HAA council member tasked with regulatory affairs I spend much spare time dealing with consultations from the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Occasionally I find myself able to commend certain proposals that improve the situation for General Aviation but more often I have to oppose them.

The advent of the 'Red Tape Challenge' by Grant Shapps MP has had some effect but much remains to be done.  The CAA also often fails to comply with the 'Better Regulation' principle advocated by the Governmeent in terms of the severe lack of consultation with those who would be affected.

In the past year the CAA has been particularly hard on the UK airshow industry following the tragic accident at Shoreham in 2015.  Frequently, without any consultation with those concerned, they have changed the regulations applicable to air displays and the pilots who fly in them.  They have introduced far more bureaucracy and consequent expence totally without any good reason.  Any recommendation from the AAIB has been rubber stamped without regard as to whether it can be justified by statistical evidence.

They have imposed swingeing increases in the charges levied for airshow permissions using the excuse that they need to increase staff numbers dealing with air display matters.

The UK airshow industry has a tradition going back over a century in providing outdoor entertainment and spectacle to the British public who attend the displays in huge numbers.  It is said that the airmindedness in the UK population in the 1930's enabled us to win the Battle of Britain.  So many were fired by what they had seen at displays that they joined the RAF and Fleet Air Arm in huge numbers along with the RAF Volunteer Reserve.  Without those pilots and ground crew the Luftwaffe might well have triumphed.

On a lighter note I am presently writing my autobiograhy of a life as an aviation enthusiast from the age of around three to the present day.  A life of pleasure, profession and, indeed, passion in General Aviation.  I find it fascinating to go through my many logbooks and pick out interesting, entertaining, humourous and, occasionally, terrifying incidents along with a couple of accidents over the years.  Hopefully I will find a publisher willimg to take it on.  Many friends have pestered me over the years to get it written, I finally gave in.  It should be worth reading about a life as an aeronautical poacher, then gamekeeper and now back to poaching once more.

I work and write in my study at home in the pleasant old Northamptonshire village we have lived in for 48 years.  My library of aviation books fills several large bookcases.  We are close to an excellent road system and the main line railway station at Peterborough is only around 15 miles away with 125 mph high speed train links to north and south.  Our nearest General Aviation aerodrome is Sibson with Conington a litlle further away.

Son John and I jointly own a Steen Skybolt, home built, aerobatic biplane which we keep at Leicester.  An airfield with a choice of hard and grass runways with excellent hangarage.  Not to mention a very pleasant clubhouse with fine catering and the essential bar facility.  It is around 30 miles away and a 40 minute drive.

Another activity I enjoy is being a member of our local hospital trust's Patent Experience Group.  We attempt to improve the experience for patients, relatives and carers who use the excellent health care facilities at Peterborough and Stamford hospitals.  The group meets every two months to discuss matters that have arisen and attempts to resolve any problems.