Saturday, August 22, 2009

A New Dream

It's a late sunny Sunday in January 2000, and I am calling Shoreham Control Tower for permission to land . With all the radio traffic, it takes minutes to get the call in. Two thousand feet below and ten miles to the South of me there is mayhem as the daylight fades and the planes head home before it becomes Official Night.
'Golf Lima Golf, welcome to the madhouse- remain outside the zone and I'll call you at 16.10 '
Shoreham Tower is clearly feeling the strain.
I turn round to fly a series of oblong circuits and wait for my call. It's the end of brilliant bright day and I begin to wonder just what we have started back there at Farnborough some 30 miles to the North West of Shoreham. Ever since I was a kid, I loved aeroplanes. I built many in balsa, some with glow engines. Most ended in a pile of debris but some flew really well. It was Ken Norris, designer of Donald Campbell's record breaking Bluebird car and boat who pushed me into flying.
'Look Richard , if you're going to drive that Land Speed record car you need more personal discipline. Flying is what you need . Why don't you learn to fly at our club in Bournemouth and get your licence?'
That was 18 years ago.
Five years on we had a new plant, our own aircraft design called the ARV Super2 and 127 people working on the Isle of Wight, off the south coast of England. Super2s were coming off the line every week and the quality was good -but the backers were not committed enough to stay the course. We hit a minor engine problem, there was no more money and 117 people lost their jobs. Over the Channel the French were after the same market - their Government gave the manufacturers orders for 75 aircraft to get started. We are not so good at these things in Britain and the ARV Super2 is now going back into production -but not in the UK: in the USA.

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