Words by Simon Nicholls
I first met Barry in the Summer of 1988 at Doncaster Airport. He circuit checked me before my first solo in a Cessna 152. I remember this but it wasn’t until I started the helicopter business at Gamston in 1997 that I saw Barry each day. He was in the office next door and we became good friends.
A few years later he finished my fixed wing pilot’s licence and we had a laugh flying together. I used to wind him up, he’d ask me to turn right – I’d turn left, turn onto the wrong heading etc..
I had to do some solo circuits which were boring going around and around. I’d had some turf delivered at home and I wanted to check it was there, so I left the circuit without telling Barry and flew over my house. He was worried as he couldn’t see me in the circuit, he thought I’d crashed. When I got back he asked ‘Where have you been?’, I told him about the turf. He liked to recall the story saying he would never fly with me again, but we did.
When Barry finished at the Flight Centre I asked him to move into our office, where he continued his flight training and really helped us out doing our ground school. He was a good instructor in the air and on the ground. People loved him for who he was and the knowledge he shared with them.
In the Summer we would come to work on our motorbikes. First thing he would do would be to make a tea and light up a cigarette. He needed to calm down after telling me he’d done it again – got over 100mph on London Road. He was in his 70’s.
I will miss him smoking in the office pretending he didn’t and leaving his used tea bags all over the kitchen side.
We put him a TV in his office and I would hear him on the phone telling students it was a ‘hell of a crosswind and out of limits’, which it wasn’t. He just wanted a day off and not to fly, and why not, he had flown over ten thousand hours and deserved a day off.
Many times I found him asleep in his office after a big lunch after watching a war film. I would sometimes turn the lights out, sneak out and go home. The next day he would say that he’d woken up in complete darkness and didn’t know where he was.
Barry had a great sense of humour. We spoke years ago about made up pilot names that would fit us. He liked Brett Falcon and I was Dick Santini. They both sounded like 70’s adult movie star names but we thought they were funny. I even had dog tags made for us with these made up names on them and we wore them, thinking if we crashed, the rescue team would report they had found Dick Santini and Brett Falcon.
Barry’s classic lines that will stick in my mind:
His chat up lines:
‘Put your arms around me and drift into paradise.’
‘Stick with me and you’ll be wearing diamonds.’
On the R/T Radio:
‘BTVX – Inbound – Battle damaged, require re-fuel and re-arm.’
The age difference of nearly 40 years between us did not matter. When you have a connection with someone, it’s difficult to explain and put into words. You look forward to seeing them, they make you smile and feel good. He was a true and loyal friend that was always the same when you saw him.
Our conversations were easy, we shared our love of flying, fast motorbikes, good whiskey, Johnny Cash, smoking, beautiful women and crap jokes.
I also liked hanging out with him because his nose made mine look almost normal size!
Years ago Barry bought me a book of flying quotes and poems, this is one of our favourites.
High Flight by John Gillespie
I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings,
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth,
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things,
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung,
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung,
My eager craft through footless halls of air,
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle flew,
And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod,
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.Download Funeral Programme