ACA Woking News by Bill Bawden, PRO

19 May 2015

New President for Woking AirCrew Association

Wing Commander Stuart Holmes has taken up the post of President of the Woking and District AirCrew Association in succession to the late ‘Jimmy’ James.  The chairman, committee and members have wished Stuart every success on his appointment.

Congratulations also to long-time ACA member, Des O’Connell, on receiving a lifetime achievement award at the 2015 Soldiering On Awards ceremony in London.  Sunbury resident Des, now aged 95, is one of the few surviving members of the Guinea Pig Club who were the patients of Sir Archibald McIndoe, the pioneering surgeon who treated aircrew badly burned in action during World War II.

The spring brought a resumption of evening meetings at Fairoaks Aerodrome and members and guests have been entertained with a series of illustrated talks given by visiting speakers.


Richard Eastment

Wg Cdr Richard Eastment OBE FRAeS was an RAF pilot and flying instructor who later joined the Operations Requirements Branch of MOD specialising in simulation and synthetic environment issues.  For six years Richard was responsible for the upgrading of almost every aircraft simulator in the RAF and he gave an absorbing account of the development of the systems that have revolutionised pilot training.

In another talk, given by David Hassard, the history of Sopwith, Hawker and British Aerospace at Kingston-upon-Thames was brought vividly to life.  David told of the products of this ‘family of visionaries’ from the earliest days of aviation, through the Schneider Trophy record flights, the Hurricane of Battle of Britain fame and the unique Harrier jump-jet to the Hawk aircraft now flown by the Red Arrows.

For our May meeting the spotlight moved to civil aviation when Richard Smith, an Operations Manager with BAA at Heathrow, told an engrossed audience of the behind-the-scenes work in airside operations to keep the airport’s 1,350 aircraft movements each day flowing smoothly.  Richard also had a wealth of anecdotes, supported by photographs, relating to incidents when that smoothness had been interrupted by human or other factors.

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