A young man with a passion for flying, an illustrious career in aviation and now, a legacy aimed at creating opportunities for those who demonstrate real passion to become a commercial airline pilot.
Mike’s love of flying was kick started by a father who worked with Sunderland flying boats in the Second World War. Some years later, a move south saw the family living next door to the De Havilland aircraft site and it was then that he joined the 2203 Hatfield and DE Havilland squadron Air Cadets.
There was no looking back. Determined to forge a career in the Air Force, Mike trained as a navigator with the Royal Air Force and spent many years flying in both Europe and the Middle East. A well-respected officer, he reached the rank of Wing Commander before deciding that promotion was taking him further from his real passion for aviation.
Following a long and successful flying career in the Royal Air Force, Mike moved into commercial aviation training, joining Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA) as Head of Ground Training. He gained an MSc in Corporate Management at Cranfield University in 1998 and went on to hold a variety of senior level positions during his time with OAA. Working with airlines worldwide, Mike played an integral role in the development of numerous new and innovative training programmes and in 2011, was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Buckinghamshire New University for his contribution to the development of aviation courses.
Mike’s official retirement in 2011 was short lived. His unparalleled experience in the industry, commitment and enthusiasm meant that he could never stay away long. Much to the amusement and delight of those that knew him, he retired 5 times in as many years.
After officially retiring from CAE OAA in July 2014 Mike went on to work as a consultant with Kura aviation, playing an integral role in developing airline relationships and eventually becoming Chair of Kura’s Advisory Board.
Mike continued to write motivational articles for Flight training News and worked with the team at Buckinghamshire New University developing their Airline Transport Management programme. In so doing, evidenced that his love for the industry was too great to ever fully retire.
Mike first came to the attention of Flight Training News (FTN) for his contributions to numerous flight training shows, conferences and committee meetings. Direct, witty, candid and rarely wide-of-the-mark, when Mike spoke it was certain to be good ‘copy’ for FTN.
After being cajoled by the publisher of FTN for a number of years, Mike finally agreed to write a regular column for FTN. Entitled ‘The Flight Training Evolution’, Mike’s first articles exploring the history of flight training appeared in FTN in 2015, with his fee being agreed upon as a decent bottle of red wine. When the ‘fee’ was finally delivered, he expressed his surprise as he hadn’t seen that vintage in the Lidl special offers section.
Mike wrote his monthly column until mid-2016 when ill health took hold and he was forced to hang up his writer’s pen. Nevertheless, he kept in touch with his friends at FTN through phone calls and irreverent e-mails on topics as diverse as singing in church and the morality of roundabouts. In response, FTN maintained a by-line for Mike in FTN, inventing increasingly bizarre and libellous reasons why his article wasn’t appearing in that issue.
Jeremy Pratt, Flight Training News
It would not be an exaggeration to say that Mike was instrumental in the introduction of an academic degree as a complement to the professional pilot training on offer at, what was then, Oxford Aviation Academy. From the moment the idea was suggested to him Mike gave the development and delivery of the degree his wholehearted support offering continuous suggestions for its enhancement and promoting its benefits to the pilot student body. It was also thanks to Mike’s support that the degree evolved from a BA to a BSc and finally a BSc Hons degree. In appreciation of his advice and support the university awarded Mike an Honorary Doctorate.
Once Mike finally retired his affiliation with the university continued. When we were fortunate in being awarded the capital for the purchase of a simulator for the use of our pilot students it was Mike to whom we turned for advice. True to form he undertook the necessary research, negotiated with the suppliers, oversaw the installation and arranged for the inspection and sign-off.
To those of us at the university who had the privilege of working with him he was an advisor, willingly shared with us his great knowledge and expertise, and became a trusted and well loved friend.
Jennifer Tilbury, Bucks New University