September 2014

July was a busy month for many people in the Society, not least because of our involvement in the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough International. There were many memorable moments, but two events stand out for me. The first was watching G-YTLY and G-SBAP, the first two Schools Build-a-Plane aircraft, take to the air and fly an impressive display on the Friday of the Farnborough Air Show. I believe that this is the first time that student-built aircraft have taken part in the Farnborough flying display and it was a fitting recognition of the success of the scheme and the efforts of everyone involved. The aircraft were flown by John Michie and Ray Lewis who, along with many of their colleagues from the Light Aircraft Association and other volunteers, have been stalwart supporters of the scheme.

I was fortunate to be able to meet many of our Corporate Partners during the show and view some of their latest products. I also attended the launch of the UK’s Defence Growth Partnership. Judging by the number of ‘movers and shakers’ present from Government and industry, the partnership is starting from a very good position. The Society played a full part in Farnborough’s Futures Day on the Friday, with staff and members passing on their advice and experience to hundreds of eager school children. It was encouraging to see the commitment of industry and Government to the aim of encouraging young people to follow a career in science and engineering and, ideally, aerospace. I was privileged to meet several young people who had been involved in the Schools Build-a-Plane Programme and a number of recipients of the Aerospace MSc Bursaries that the Society has been helping to administer. They all made a very good impression. In particular, the bursary holders were clearly excited by the opportunities in aerospace and were looking forward to finding fulfilling careers. If the young people I met represent the future, then I feel very optimistic.

The second very special event is described in detail on p 55 of AEROSPACE. It was a great privilege for me to be at RNAS Yeovilton on 29 July, to introduce Capt Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown and invite him to deliver the first Society Named Lecture in his name. Winkle, as I said at the time, is quite simply one of the most accomplished and distinguished aviators that the world has seen. I was there as a guest of the Fleet Air Arm Branch of the Society and earlier in the evening I had handed over a striking portrait of Captain Brown to Cdre Jock Alexander, the Commanding Officer of RNAS Yeovilton. The portrait, by the artist Lucasta Partridge-Brown, is part of the Society’s collection and it will now hang, on permanent loan, in the Wardroom at Yeovilton.

Looking to the future, my President’s Conference ‘Space: The Strategic Choices’ will take place in Hamilton Place on 8 and 9 October. We have put together an exciting programme with distinguished speakers from Europe, the USA, Asia and Africa. It promises to be a landmark event and I would urge you to attend. Details are on the website.

Air Cdre Bill Tyack