Just an enthusiast
I'm a company director from West Sussex in England, born in 1956 and with a passion
for everything aeronautical, but mainly warbirds.
From the age of 6, I would go to work with my father, who worked for Skyways of London and roam about
Stansted Airport at my own leisure, stopping to chat with the pilots, engineers or fire crew, who would gladly show me around
their workplace or let me snoop around the aircraft of the day, which were Constellations, Yorks, Hermese, and Doves, I got
taken up on many occasions, as there was no health and safety or security to speak of in those days.
My mother even learned to drive on Stansteds runway, as the planes would land directly overhead.........
wasn’t it wonderful before the need for security.
school holidays and weekends, I would often go to work with my Dad and fumble around in the hangar or go and play in
the fire Service compound where I would climb into the cockpits of old aircraft, including a Victor and a Lincoln that
father also worked for Channel Airways, on Comets, Tridents and 111's.
he was at Channel, he also unertook some work for BEA who where testing their Tridents and I was lucky enough to be invited
on several flights when they were testing the aircrafts stall characteristics, which as you can imagine was pretty amazing.
When I was ten, our family moved to Borneo, as my father was asked by the then BOAC to train the Malaysian
engineers on the "new" Comet and while I was there, I was again given the key to the airport, which was the little known Jesselton
airport, at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
I was often asked if I wanted to " nip " down to Singapore or Hong Kong or wherever, sitting in
the cockpit of the Comet, or occasionally a Malaysian Air Force Caribou, there and back or if it was Cathay Pacific, on the
flight deck of their 880's or Electra's.
Based at Jesselton were also numerous missionary operations that flew into various parts of Borneo and
getting friendly with the pilots, I was always being asked to hop on board a Cessna Skymaster or a Skywagon to visit some
remote village somewhere. I remember one guy who I flew with was one of the original Flying Tiger pilots and he would come
out with some great stories.
of the heat, my school hours at Jesselton were 7.30 to 12.30 so when school finished for the day I would walk to the airport,
cross the runway and spend the day with my father.
I loved those two years at Jesselton and when my father was transferred to Singapore
it all changed as I had no access to the ramp.
one of those hot humid days at Jesselton, an aerial mapping company flew in with one of their aircraft..........
I was in the hanger at the time and this sound suddenly came from outside, it was an A-26 Invader
and wouldn’t you know it, they took me for a spin.....many times, whilst they where doing there research.
We flew at every height from five thousand to fifty feet and it was then that I fell in love with the " Invader "
From that first smell of the cockpit, to the smoke, oil and deafening noise that came when they started
her up, I knew that this aeroplane was to always play a part in my life.
living abroad we would often get leave home and on one occasion my mother's sister who worked in the aviation industry told
me of a friend of hers who was an electrician on the set of "The battle or Britain
day there was a knock at the door and it was this guy who had come to take me to see the filming. We arrived on set and it
was obvious that he was chummy with the aircrew of which several offered to take me up in the numerous support aircraft
at the airfield.
day will go down as a great one in life as I took several flights in the CASA -2111 (HE-111) camera ship, the B-25 camera
ship taking aerial shots of the dog fights etc and also a back seat hop in one of the two seat Spitfires.
all those years ago, I have flown round the world several times and have been lucky enough to fly in a number of aircraft
due to my work, from doing barrel rolls in a beech King air to skimming the waves at 50 feet at 400 mph on a trip from Acapulco
( where I lived ) to Miami in a Lear jet 24 and on one occasion landing in a DC-3 on a main high street somewhere
When I left school, I started work in engineering, for a company called International Aviation Services, who flew
Britania's and DC8's out of Gatwick and moved to British Airtours, to work on Comets and 707's, but today my life is a little more serene.
Today I run a company that produces Operating and Maintenance and Health and Safety manuals
and live in Sussex but still have a passion for classic aviation.
a member of Goodwood Aero Club ( Westhampnett ) for some time, but decided to leave when it all became a bit too corporate,
but I did make good use of the wonderful facilities they had to offer and their Revival days are fantastic.
occasional day at the airfield we got the guys from the Fighter collection or the OFMC buzzing the field and on a bad
day all we get are Herc's and Chinooks buzzing the field at 100 feet.
last time I spoke to Ray Hanna was at Goodwood, when he flew the LA-9 in with engine problems prior I think to a display
at Shoreham, he will be sadly missed.
miss Goodwood, but sometimes its better to move on.
I still live only 20 minutes from the airfield, so If there is any one out there who needs info or photos
of something unusual thats happening, then I will try and oblige, especially for you foreigners out there.
Finally, the picture you see here is of my son Duncan and me.
Duncan died in 2003 of a drugs overdose, a habit he tried so hard to beat but in the end lost, I miss
him so badly and so does his sister, who I hope will gain something from this experience.
The experience has left me numb and without direction and I can only hope the pain will subside, allowing
me to move on with my life.
funny, when Duncan was small I would drag him along to numerous air shows feeling sure he would get the same buzz as
me, but in later life when reminiscing about various air shows we had been too, he said "dad I was bored shitless"
the same now with my daughter, who comments that it may be boring but at least she's with her dad.
Through flying at Goodwood, I learned to cope with his death, the hours of soaring through clouds and
over the South Downs along with the support of my instructor and friend, helped me to be nearer to Duncan in a spiritual
way and I have no doubt that should I encounter peril in my ambition to conquer the skies, he will be there to watch
This site is a fulfilment of a passion I have had since my boyhood and throughout its construction I
have acquired many friends and fellow enthusiasts from all over the world.
From guys that used to fly Invaders in Korea, Vietnam and other conflicts, to owners and pilots that
now fly these wonderful aircraft for museums, who have not only offered me flights in their aircraft, but also great words
of support and letters of help, and even though I am mainly using the photos of other people, I hope everyone who visits the site will enjoy it.
With regards to my life today, I still try and travel to the States at least twice a year, because I love
the place and have made many friends out there over the years, both from the past and as a result of this site, so I hope I
will always be in a position to continue that pilgrimage across the pond.
With regards to the photograph copyright "thing" and those shots I have used but have been unable to
contact the owner, I hope you guys don’t mind as this is purely a personal site, however if you take offence at me using
your shots, please contact me via the site at email@example.com and if we can come to an arrangement, I would appreciate it.
Martin J Simpson
West Sussex, England.
Above, a flight in this aircraft when I was 10, stirred
my original passion in the A-26, when I lived in Jesselton, Borneo.
Daddy's 56th birthday prezzy (2012), from his little
Above is me with Harvard G-AZSC at Duxford Legends
Above is a war time aerial photo of Gt. Dunmow.
During the war my mother and her family moved here from
the East End of London to avoid the blitz.
There was my mother and her sister and a couple of cousins
along with my grandparents.
During a recent conversation with my sister about the
good old days at the "White house" which is circled in red, she told me that the girls visited the airbase regularly and my
mother was even engaged to an airman, also my Aunt Rene became pregnant by one of the American guys at the base which as you
can imagine didn't go down too well.
Looking at old photos of them at that time, they all looked
like Betty Grable with the hair and seamed stockings so I guess they had a wonderful time....That's probably why my dad hated
the Yanks so much as he was on Sunderlands in Ceylon at the time so it was a case of him over there and them over here.
I remember the white house with great fondness, as my
Grandad would often take me fishing at a lake on the airfield and tell me stories of what it was like during the war as the
A and B-26's flew over 24/7 too and from Germany and how my mother often came home crying when someone she knew at the base
had died on a mission.
He even told me that the opening and closing scenes from
the film, 12'oclock high were filmed there so if any of you guys get a chance to see the film I gather its pretty much as
it was in my mothers day back then in 1945.
He told me that they originally lived in the East End of London, so
to get away from the Blitz, he took the family down to Dunmow, or Takely to be precise and bought the White House.
Unfortunately, the house was directly at the end of the runway, so
when the USAAF went out or came back from a mission, everyone was carted down to the cellar as aircraft would often crash
whilst damaged returning from a mission or not make it of the runway due to some sort of failure.
He said I thought bringing my family to Essex was safe, but it seems
that it was more dangerous that the East End, " frying pan into the fire" I think he said.
Aircraft I have flown in ( as a
Passenger / Supernumery crew ) over the years
Airbus, Most variants
Aviation Traders Carvair - ( Aviation
Avro York - Supernumery
crew seat ( Skyways )
BAC111 - Supernumery crew
seat ( BCAL and Channel Airways )
CASA C2111H - B of B flim
Bell 206 Jet and Long Rangers
Boeing 707 - Supernumery
crew seat ( M.S.A. and British Airtours )
Boeing 720 - Supernumery
crew seat ( Laker )
Bristol Britannia - Supernumery
crew seat ( I.A.S.)
Bristol Bulldog - ( Ultimate High, Top gun )
Canadair CL44 - Supernumery
crew seat ( Trans Meridian, Tradewinds )
Cessna's 150, 172, 185 Skywagon, 205, 310, 337 Skymaster, 421
Convair 880 - Supernumery
crew seat ( Cathay Pacific )
DeHavilland Comet - Supernumery
crew seat ( M.S.A., British Airtours, Channel Airways )
DeHavilland Dove - M.O.D.
DeHavilland Tiger moth
DeHavilland Chippie - ATC
DeHavilland Caribou - Supernumery
crew seat ( Malaysian Air force )
Douglas DC3 - Supernumery crew
seat ( M.S.A./ )
Douglas DC 4
Douglas DC10 - Supernumery
crew seat ( Laker )
Douglas A-26 Invader
Focker F27 - Supernumery
crew seat ( Malaysian Singapore Airways )
Handley Page Hermes - (
Handley Page Herald - ( BEA )
HS 125, 748 and 146
HS Trident 1C - Super'y
crew seat ( Flt stall testing BEA's G-ARPF )
HS Trident 1E - Supernumery crew seat
( Channel )
Learjet’s - Supernumery
Lockheed Connies - Supernumery
crew seat ( Skyways )
Lockheed Electra - Supernumery
crew seat ( Cathay Pacific )
McDonnell F4 Phantom - ATC, camp, (
RAF Coningsby, back seat )
Noorduyn AT-16 Harvard Mk 2B
North American B-25 - B
of B film camera ship
Percival Prince - Supernumery
crew seat ( M.O.D.)
Pipers - several variants
Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer
- Supernumery crew seat ( Trans Meridian )
Sud Aviation Caravel
Spitfire - 2 Seat B of B film camera ship
Vickers Viscount - Supernumery crew seat ( Channel Airways)
Vickers VC-10 (Standard/Super)
Waco YMF5 classic - Conch Air
The above two shots were sent in by Ben Faux, who also
used to play in the fire yard at Satnsted in the 50's and 60's, thanks Ben.
Above is Lincoln RF533 which ended its days at the fire
school at Stansted, photographed in 1967.
I used to play on her as a child at the Stansted fire
The three aircraft above represent a very big part of
my life when my father worked for Skyways. I spent many a happy hour flying in these aircraft, usually in the cockpit.
Above is an MSA Comet, I spent many a happy hour flying
in the cockpit of these beauties when I lived in Borneo and still think they are the most beautiful aeroplane ever designed.
An MSA 707 above, which replaced the Comet
The Channel Airways Comet I ofter flew in during flight
The two shots above represent the begining of my work
life in aviation. We used to park the Britannias at Biggin Hill to save on landing fees and as Biggin was VFR, there would
be six of us in the cockpit looking for any light aviation that was in the circuit, after landing taxiing between the parked
Cessnas and leaving the plane by means of a rope ladder.
An Airtours Comet above that I worked on whilst at LGW,
truely a gorgeous aeroplane and without a doubt my favorite of all time.
Above the 880 of Cathay Pacific. These babies would
land at Jesselton, Borneo in a prominant nose up position with black smoke belching from those four GE CJ-805's and then stand
on their nose as the brakes and reverse thrust dragged her to a stop, yards from the end of the runway
Me and the Challenger, from when I was living in Buffalo
My prefered mode of transport, patroling the waters
around one of my venues, somewhere in the Americas
Above is "Lima Delta" My first ( Legal ) solo out of
Goodwood and below is Goodwood's new aquisition, flown by Hans Dieter Sinanan, the Aero clubs warbird display pilot and my
We sometimes take the Harvard to Duxford for
the Flying legends show, so if you see a black Harvard land their generally at about 10am on the Sat show then give us a wave
Anyone out there who wants to experience the thrill
of warbird flying should try it and you will have the added buz of flying from a Battle of Britain airfield.
|Thanks to Martin Stephen for this one
Above is the Harvard, which is displayed by Goodwoods
warbird display pilot, Hans Dieter Sinanan, a guy I am proud to call my friend and instructor.
I have no doubt that within a couple of years he will
have his ticket on a P-51 or Spitfire.
And finally, a View from the Aeroclub, after a days