|Fairoaks Aerial View|
Fairoaks In 1961
(Aeronautics Februray 1961)
FLYING enthusiasts will need no reminding that Fair Oaks Aero Club achieved wide recognition a few years ago when one of the club's honorary flying instructors wrote The student and private pilot's handbook'. This excellent briefing manual is still selling well and visiting pilots to this fine club aerodrome often ask to meet the author, Mr H H Edwards. But although Mr Edwards is no longer with the club, visitors can still meet one of the most experienced C F Is in the business.
He is Wing Commander C E F Arthur, A F C, who has a grand total of 13 900 hours out of which to too have been spent on imparting know-how in the air to fledgling pilots.
Wing Commander Arthur has been an instructor since 1021 and based at Fair Oaks since 1937, when he commanded No 18 Elementary and Reserve Flying School which trained over 6 000 service pilots during the war. Many of the original R A F buildings from those days are still standing and in use by the club.
When we motored through the Surrey countryside to the aerodrome recently to obtain a few facts and figures for the Supplement we found the two full-time instructors, Ronald Cobbett and Bernard Sedgwick, both ex- R.A.F, gloomilv surveying the effect of the heavy rain. Of the 106 acres 'of grass area normally available only about one-fifth was in use. With no runway, club aircraft had to taxi round the small perimeter track to that part of the field which could be used. Commented Wing Commander Arthur: 'I've been here for 23 years and I don't remember conditions as bad as this at this time of the year'.
But, as other clubs have found out, the weather can, paradoxically, have little influence on whether or not people take up flying. Oddly enough, although 1959 was a good year weather-wise, less hours were flown and fewer licences gained at Fair Oaks than in the previous year when flying conditions were not exceptional.
Nevertheless, we managed to get an Auster and a Chipmunk airborne for the air-to-air picture you see at the top of this page, showing clearly the waterlogged state of the field.
The club operates five
Tiger Moths, two Austers, two Chipmunks and a Tri-Pacer, which share
the large R A F-type hangar with a number of privately owned light
aeroplanes, including the Cessna belonging to world champion racing
driver Jack Brabha m. A not inconsiderable part of club
We met two men who, working quietly in the background, are the backbone of any flying organisation, although they won't rush forward to press their claim. They are Mr Jack Holland, secretary, and Squadron Leader V B Nightscale, the engineer. Mr Holland, in fact, was so bashful about claiming any credit for the success of the club, although he is a hard working founder member, that we had to practically hold him down in order to take his photograph !
Before leaving, we were introduced to Miss Shirley Norway, youngest daughter of the late Nevil Shute, who came down from London for the day to enable us to photograph her standing near the Tiger Moth in which she is learning to fly. That, we feel, is typical of the friendly atmosphere and co-operation at Fair Oaks.