I was born in England in 1930. In childhood I built and flew model aircraft. My first sight of gliding was in 1939 at Camphill in Derbyshire. I was immediately enthralled. Two books I read with fascination soon afterwards were influential in confirming my passion for the sport of soaring; Silent Flight (1939) by Ann Edmonds (later Ann Welch) and Soaring Flight (1944) by Terence Horsley. (I met both these authors later.)
On the outbreak of World War II the steel company, Edgar Allens & Co. for which my father, Eric, worked, evacuated all their administrative staff to the village of Eyam in Derbyshire. I and my older sister Audrey attended the Lady Manners Grammar School in the market town of Bakewell. After leaving school in 1946 I worked as a laboratory assistant in Sheffield, commuting daily by bus, train and tram to the E Allens steelworks at the eastern end of the city.
Eyam is only about five kilometres from the Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club site at Camphill. In a southerly wind the gliders frequently soar directly over the village. I walked up the hill to the club, or cycled, regularly every weekend. When old enough in 1947, I began learning to fly primary gliders by the old, dangerous ‘solo’ method, with marked lack of success. I suffered a serious accident, diving into the ground from about 100 ft, injuring my spine and breaking my left leg. This delayed my ‘call up’ for National Service. Once admitted to the RAF I trained as a radio operator at the Cranwell Radio School, served for some months at Kinloss in Scotland and later at Wunstorf in Germany at the end of the great Berlin Airlift operation.
The Airlift over, I was able to wangle myself a posting to Scharfoldendorf, a distant, ridge top site where there was a radio direction finding unit. Scharf was also the site of a great RAF gliding club so I was able to start flying again, this time in two-seaters with an instructor, Andy Gough.
After release from the RAF I entered Borough Road College to work for the Teachers’ Certificate. I became very interested in geography and after completing the two year Certificate I went for a third year to Goldsmiths College in SE London, to obtain the London University Academic Diploma in Geography. I then took my first teaching appointment in Edmonton, North East London cycling daily to the school from my lodging in the nearby suburb of Enfield.
I met Jean Pope in 1948 when, as a college friend of Audrey’s, she visited us in Eyam. Jean and I met again in London while I was still at Goldsmiths and she was teaching in Isleworth, Middlesex. During the awful smog of 1953 we went together to the theatre where the fog had entered the auditorium, so our view of the stage was distinctly hazy. We met frequently after this and married in 1954. Our first daughter, Patricia Anne, was born in hospital in Enfield in March 1957.
I studied in the evenings for the BSc in geography with geology, at Birkbeck College, achieving First Class Honours in 1959. I was immediately appointed to a lectureship at Kenton Lodge teacher training college in Newcastle upon Tyne. Margaret, our second child, was born in Newcastle in May, 1960. I completed the MEd at Durham University, published several successful school textbooks and contributed chapters to other geography books and journals during this time.
In 1963 I became a lecturer in the London University Institute of Education. We moved to live in Enfield again. Further publications followed. For several years I edited the University Institute of Education Bulletin.
I made good progress as a glider pilot during a two-seater training course at Lasham in Hampshire about 1955 and in 1963 became a member of the London Gliding Club, completing the Silver C badge from Dunstable and placing second, flying a Ka 6E sailplane, in my first competition, the London Regionals, in 1967.
Under the influence of Professor Richard Peters and Paul Hirst at the Institute, my professional interests expanded to include philosophy and I tutored some of the advanced students. After moving to Australia in 1968 with Jean,Patricia and Margaret, I lectured for 25 years in Philosophy of Education in the University of Adelaide and published several academic papers in this area. For a one year term I served as President of the Philosophy of Education Association of Australia.
After arrival in Adelaide I had joined the Waikerie Gliding Club and flew regularly as a member for twenty-five years. For a time I was Vice President of this leading club. For ten years I edited, in spare time, the magazine, Australian Gliding. I have written and still write many articles about gliding and model aircraft. I was a founder member of the Australian branch of the Vintage Glider Club.
I accumulated about 1500 hours as a soaring pilot and have flown over a hundred different types of glider in many countries. I earned the International Gold C badge with two diamonds and for a short period held the British National Record for speed round a 300 km triangle. When the World Gliding Championships were held at Waikerie in 1974, I edited and produced the daily contest bulletin which was issued to all pilots and crews, and mailed widely overseas.
I met Peter Riedel, the German aviator and diplomat, when he visited us in Adelaide and subsequently together we wrote the book, German Air Attaché.
I never lost interest in model flying. My Model Aircraft Aerodynamics, now in fourth edition, is still the only book of its kind in English and is available in German and Chinese translations. I was, rather to my surprise, inducted to the Model Aeronautical Association of Australia’s Hall of Fame in 1993.
I retired from the University in 1993.
Since retirement my books detailing the technical history of sailplanes have been published in English and German languages. I made some five hundred detailed drawings to illustrate these. I was awarded the Gehriger Diploma of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in recognition of these works.
Jean became ill and died of pancreatic cancer early in 2005.
Widowed, in recent years I have turned to writing fiction. My two novels, Jenny Rat and Cities at Sea, are now available as E – books. A member of the Kensington and Norwood Writers’ Group in Adelaide, my many other writings include short stories, memoirs and brief essays.