David Ogilvy, AOPAs longest-servingofficer, has decided to step backfrom his involvement with theAssociation after 45 years and is passingon much of his workload on aerodromeprotection.A co-founder of AOPA UK in 1967,
David has done almost every job in theAssociation down the years he is aformer Executive Chairman and President,as well as having edited this magazine. AnRAF Mosquito and Meteor pilot, he is theauthor of 14 books on aviation and hasbeen involved in fighting general aviationscause at 30 public inquiries. Once GeneralManager of the Shuttleworth Collection,David has 6,500 hours on some 80different aircraft types, many of them rareand exotic, and he was awarded the OBEin 1994 for services to aviation. Amongthe many highlights of his career wasflying the Mosquito in scores of airdisplays, and for the film 633 Squadron.Unfortunately, the legacy of an accident
thirty years ago is coming back to haunthim, and he no longer runs the hundredyards as fast as he once did. For this andother reasons he is reducing a workloadwhich in recent years has seen him handle752 operational or planning issues relatingto small GA aerodromes in the UK.David has had a fascinating career. The
son of a music teacher, he played trumpetand trombone, to the occasionalconsternation of his neighbours, and musicled to his first aviation-related job beingthe only boy at Aldenham School who was
age to join up. With thousands of aircrewbeing kicked out, there were very few goingin. To this day David is bewildered as to howhe succeeded where so many failed. Ataircrew selection they made it quite clearthey didnt need anybody and the processwas fairly intense, David says. For themedical you had to stand on one leg withyour eyes shut, and Ive never been able todo that. The medical officer said I shouldfail, but I pleaded with him so he hauled inthe senior medical officer, and of course Icouldnt do it for him, either. But he agreedto let me through because Id come out veryfit on every other count. Heaven only knowshow I got away with it.David went to a grading school at
Shellingford in Berkshire to do 12 hours onTiger Moths. You had four assessments in12 hours and you could be chopped at anystage, he says. I didnt go solo in those 12hours but some did, and I was very jealousof them. But to a man, those who went solowere failed and those who didnt wentthrough. I found out later they had a policyof giving those who were to be chopped onesolo flight, so they could say theyd done it.After ground school at RAF Wittering
David was passed around several bases as anon-flying supernumerary. Bursting to fly, hepresented himself at Denham Aero Club andshowed the CFI his log book. He gave metwo circuits and sent me off, so my first solowas in a civilian Piper Cub.Training began in earnest on Tiger Moths
at No 3 Flying Training School at Feltwell inNorfolk. The scrub rate was fantastic,
able both to recognise aircraft and play thebugle, he was stationed in a chair in themiddle of the playing field to give warningof the approach of Doodlebugs in wartime.His interest in flying dates from the day theschool was beaten up by a Hawker Hart;he immediately began planning to convertthe school grounds into an aerodrome,laying out runways and support facilities inhis mind. During the war he lived on hisbicycle, haunting the perimeter fences ofnearby aerodromes or the Hawker factoryat Langley, where they turned out 12Hurricanes a day. White Waltham was theheadquarters of the Air Transport Auxiliaryand every conceivable type of aircraftpassed through. At Woodley, Miles weremaking trainers, RAF Winkfield was anElementary Flying Training School withTiger Moths, and in the middle of WindsorGreat Park there was a secret aerodromeattached to a Vickers shadow factory withmost of its buildings underground, andoccasionally a sharp-eyed cyclist might seea Wellington flying in.Having joined the ATC at 15 David got
his first flight in a Dakota, and it was amajor disappointment. Sitting in the backdid nothing for me, he says. I thought, ifthis is flying, Im not as keen as I thought Iwas. Later I was given a flight in a TigerMoth from Panshanger and allowed tohandle the controls, and I was hopelesslylost to a determination to join the RAF as apilot from that moment.Unfortunately for David, if not for the
world, the war ended just as he came of
48 General Aviation June 2012
Ogilvyrelinquishesthe stickAOPAs David Ogilvy talks ofhis life and times to Pat Malone
David Ogilvy in hisoffice at AOPAheadquarters inVictoria, London
David says. Every Monday someonewasnt there; theyd been sacked over theweekend. But I seemed to have anunusual attitude. I said to my instructor,you know, I really do enjoy this flying, itsmarvellous, and he was quite taken aback no pupil had ever said that to himbefore.
MosquitoDavid went on to the Harvard, which wasa great leap forward from the Tiger Moth.I think the sequence of Tiger Moth andHarvard was the best training sequenceanyone could invent, he says. The Tigergave you a sense of the weather and thewind, and you grew up in the Harvard,which taught you not to fool about. Withsome 200 hours he went on to 204Advanced Flying School, where despite hisexpressed preference for Spitfires he wassent to Brize Norton and introduced to theMosquito. I was a little disappointed but Isoon discovered the Mosquito was everybit as good to fly. My instructor sold me onit at a great height he feathered a fanand did a barrel roll. Anything a Spitfirecan do, this can do better, he said. Thetrainer, the T3, was very manoeuvrable,much better than later marks which weremuch heavier and nothing like as nice.It was also a handful. David witnessed
three fatal accidents where Mosquitos onone engine rolled over and smashed intothe ground on short finals one a realengine failure, two in training. MoreMosquitos were lost in handling accidentsduring the war than to enemy action, hesays. Theyd swing on take-off, theydswing on landing, and asymmetric flyingwas very tricky. I saw three of mycolleagues being killed, including my ownCO, and it happened very quickly. With thehigh mark Merlins, if at approach speed ofabout 130 kt you kept the speed up youwere okay, but if you had to add a bit ofthrottle on the good engine it could yawand roll, and the elapsed time betweentouching the throttle and hitting the groundinverted would be about three seconds.After Brize it was on to 237 Operational
Conversion Unit at Leuchars, a small photoreconnaissance unit with two Spitfires,three Mosquitos and a Harvard. The ColdWar was kicking off and the Mosquito 34PR, the longest-range aircraft in the RAFinventory able to make flights of 3,500miles was often sent east to photographthings that even now David doesnt talkabout. They had seven fuel tanks, whichmade fuel management interesting, hesays. We flew with 100-gallon drop tankswhich apparently warped the wings; theyhad to be filled within an hour ofdeparture, and if you were delayed theyhad to be drained. The 34 was supposedto be pressurised but it leaked like a sieve.Operational height was 37,000 feet andup there you had the sky to yourself thePR Spitfire XIX could get above us, but the
roll and you couldnt stop it. People werekilled frequently in those times the wholeattitude to accidents was different. It was ahangover from the war. You got the jobdone, whatever the cost.
ElstreeAfter six years in the RAF David was offereda civilian job at Elstree Aerodrome. Idstarted air racing and met Ron Paine, whoraced the only remaining Miles Hawk SpeedSix. He was Technical Director of DerbyAviation, which operated Elstree FlyingSchool. I took over at Elstree the age of 23and turned it into London School of Flying,and we expanded into three schools, Elstree,Denham and Derby. At Elstree we had an AirTraining Corps contract, and one of my firstpupils was AOPA Chairman George Done.We developed the professional training
new jets couldnt get anywhere near us.David was often detached to Gibraltar,
Libya and exotic RAF Benson, which wasconvenient because he had developed anoutside interest. Id always had an interestin historic light aircraft and had flown oneor two, so it was useful to be in theLondon area, where most of them werebased, he says. I was joint creator withRon Gillman of the Vintage AeroplaneClub, where membership was restricted toowners of suitable historic aircraft. One ofthe keenest VAC members was NevilleDuke, Hawkers chief test pilot; they had aHurricane, Hart and Tomtit at Langley. Iused to ring him up and say, Ive got alittle show at White Waltham, can youcome over? What would you like? hedask. And Id reply, The lot, please. TheTomtit is now at the Shuttleworth, theHarts in the RAF Museum and theHurricane is with the BBMF. We kept theVAC going for six years, but Ron and I bothgot too busy and had to let it go. Later theVintage Aircraft Club was formed and doesa marvellous job.While in the RAF David also instructed
at West London Aero Club at WhiteWaltham, and with Wycombe Flying Club,then based at a wholly inadequate smallfield alongside the River Thames at BourneEnd. He also instructed on Piper Cubs at afar better aerodrome with two grassrunways called Gatwick.At Benson David converted onto the
Meteor, which like the Mosquito had trickyasymmetric handling. You were alsoconstantly worried about fuel. On thedownwind, if you hadnt got 40 gallonseach side you had to land you couldntgo round, that was the rule. On take-offand landing the Meteor was a piece ofcake compared to the Mosquito, but onevice killed a lot of people on approach. Ifyou failed to pull the airbrakes in beforeyou lowered the wheels it would go into a
General Aviation June 2012
Three historic aircraft of theformer Skyfame museum:Mosquito 35, Anson 1 andOxford, all of which David (atright) flew in displays. Also seenare fellow pilot John Schooling(left) and Peter Thomas, creatorand owner of Skyfame.
Elstree, early 50s David Ogilvy, and on thewing, his pupil George
Done, now AOPAChairman
side of the business and I was put on theBoard my actual title was Chief Instructorfor Air Schools and I was charging 3 anhour for the Auster or Miles Magister, and5 an hour for twin conversion on theMiles Gemini. I was destined to put in 14enjoyable years at this very successfulenterprise.I kept flying Mosquitos because Derby
Aviation acquired from the RAF a numberof Mosquitos on behalf of Spartan AirServices in Canada for survey work. I wasasked to fetch ten from Silloth and deliverthem to Derby, test fly them afterconversion and ferry them to Prestwick,and I used to desert my Elstree postregularly to do this.I also flew for the Skyfame museum at
Staverton, whose owner Peter Thomas hada Mosquito which I flew in displays. Thiswas the aircraft I flew for the film 633Squadron in 1963. Main filming hadfinished before they realised they hadntgot noises for the soundtrack. They neededthe squeal of the tyres on landing, and Iflew several circuits and had to land rightbeside the recording equipment. So mycontribution can be heard, but not seen.
ShuttleworthIn 1966 David was invited to becomeGeneral Manager of the ShuttleworthCollection at Old Warden, a three-days-a-week job which left him time to work onbehalf of the British Light Aviation Centre,which the following year was invited byAOPA US to become AOPA UK. Hisassociation with AOPA remains unbrokenfrom that date. He was also destined toput in 14 years at the head of theShuttleworth, where the opportunity aroseto fly the rarest aeroplanes in the world.These were in many cases the worlds
only surviving specimens of historicaeroplanes, and they were a hugeresponsibility, David says. They are neverto be flown unnecessarily, but they have tobe flown. You were allowed onefamiliarisation flight if you were going to flyin a display, which might then last tenminutes. I have a total of 6,500 hours,which is nothing in the airline world, but alot of it was in very small parcels on veryinteresting aeroplanes.The aircraft that made the greatest
impression on me was the GlosterGladiator. As with other Shuttleworthaeroplanes, the sense of responsibility forthe worlds only flying specimen ensuredthat you didnt enjoy the flight until you
forced landing after engine failure nine yearslater, and for a long time it was restricted totaxiing only. The engine has since beenoverhauled and it is once again occasionallyflown.From 1980 to the mid-1990s David ran
the flying displays for the Shuttleworth, andcontinued doing the commentary for someyears after that, while working as an aviationconsultant and expert witness in accidentinquiries. He has participated in 30 publicinquiries on aerodrome matters, and tookover as Executive Chairman of AOPA whenRon Campbell died in 1996. In recent yearshe has been the Associations aerodromesman, and at time of writing has been involvedin 752 issues relating to aerodromes. Apartfrom the accounts, Ive done every job atAOPA, he says. The constant struggle hasbeen to keep GA aerodromes open andhealthy in the face of all the pressures uponthem, from property developers,complainants, economic factorsGeneral aviation has gone through a
revolution in my time, and my generationprobably had the best of it. When I beganflying there was one small piece of controlledairspace in Britain, around London airport.Many more people flew solely for fun, andthere was a great number of aircraft thatwere engaging and challenging to fly.Regulation was far more reasonable, andtraining was of a much higher quality morea matter of imparting piloting skills thanmaking sure documents were in order.Attitudes were different. If you met
someone else in the sky, youd give him awave, not file an airprox. On a summersSunday afternoon every aircraft would be up,and the airspace was far more crowded.Aerodromes were busy in those days. Theidea that todays skies are impossibly crowdedis misplaced. We thought nothing of having20 aircraft in the circuit, and not a radiobetween them. There really arent any busyaerodromes left.AOPAs Chairman George Done says:
When I took over from David as Chairman ofAOPA in 2000 he was already deeplyengaged in the vital work of aerodromessupport, having finally given up his activeand hugely varied flying life. Davidsdedication to the task was, and continues tobe, unsurpassed and it is going to be achallenge to ensure that the need for supportis safely and securely covered following hisretirement from the scene.
were getting out. The Gladiator was proneto carb icing, and on a warm summerafternoon the engine stopped dead on me.I was at around 4,000 feet on an air test,and the thing that went through my mindwas that if I didnt get it right, not onlywould I be drummed out of the Brownies,Id have to leave the country, so greatwould be the opprobrium. Id lost about2,000 feet before my juggling of throttleand carb heat brought the engine back tolife, but it was a memorable experience.David fared worse with the de Havilla...