Fairoaks Aerial View

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Fairoaks In 1961

Fairoaks Fashion
(Aeronautics Februray 1961)

One of the Fair Oaks Chipmunks over the aerodrome. The field was only partly usable after heavy rainfalls at the end of 1960 and pools of water can be clearly seen in the background.
One of the Fair Oaks Chipmunks over the aerodrome. The field was only partly usable after heavy rainfalls at the end of 1960 and pools of water can be clearly seen in the background.

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.

`Diamond Lil', back on the ground after photographic sortie (see top pic-
`Diamond Lil', back on the ground after photographic sortie (see top pic-
ture), poses with Ronald Cobbett and Wing Commander Arthur. In the next
picture Miss Shirley Norway (see text above) chats with instructor Bernard


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.

Back in the warm clubroom, we learned that the club was formed in 1946 With about 40 members. Since then member-ship has increased to 400 with over 42 000 hours flown and more than 600 P P Ls gained, which we think is a fair score, comparing favourably with the largest clubs. The golden year in Fair Oaks history was 1957 when 6 671 hours ,Were flown and 73 P P Ls obtained.

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
revenue comes from these hangarage fees.

Mr Jack Holland. Club Secretary
Mr Jack Holland. Club Secretary

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 !

Sqn Ldr V.B Nightscale. Chief Engineer.
Sqn Ldr V.B Nightscale. Chief Engineer.

He told us that the proprietors of the club are Universal Flying Services Ltd, a subsidiary of Blackburn Aircraft Ltd. He added that a talking point among members at the moment is 'what will happen when the Air Ministry lease to the parent company expires on July 31 this year and the airfield is put up for auction ?' Although it is not good agricultural land, the Surrey County Council does not seem keen on it remaining as an aerodrome. AERONAUTICS will be keeping an eye on the situation and reporting back later in the year.

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.