Jerry’s love of aircraft began when he joined a University Air Squadron, through which he learnt to fly. In his words, “I spent too much time around aircraft so I failed all the exams. My Father told me to get on and do something so I joined the Royal Air Force.”
Jerry did 18 years with the RAF, which included tours during the Suez crisis. He got his wings in the Harvard, before doing a jet conversion onto the Meteor. As part of a Meteor fighter Squadron, he was based at Tangmere, before his squadron evolved to flying the Hawker Hunter. He was then ‘poached’ to become a co-pilot with V-Force and after two years in the role he became a Captain, a job he would carry on for seven years.
He says that the MkII (Handley Page) Victor was the best performing aircraft in the world at the time he began to fly it and rates it above the Vulcan in his list of favourites. “We had wonderful aeroplane design and wonderful engine design, so we went higher and faster than anyone else,” he says. “But some of the equipment was very primitive – the radios wouldn’t work very well if it rained hard! I flew a Victor to Australia and flying across the Indian Ocean we had no radio contact.”
Among his many memories of being a pilot in the RAF, Jerry lists flying the Hunter as one of the highlights. “It was the first RAF aircraft to go supersonic,” he says, “so we would head off gingerly from Tangmere and then break the sound barrier!” But alongside the joy of flying at high-speeds, Jerry also fondly remembers the camaraderie that came with captaining a bomber crew. “I was very, very lucky,” he says. “We had totally efficient professionalism both in the air and on the ground. We were a young team and it was a very exciting time.”
He left the Forces and applied to British Airways, but was told owing to his age – he was 38 at the time – he would never be a Captain. Understandably, having captained a V-Bomber crew, Jerry chose not to sign up and instead got involved with the Air Cadet force, where he did air experience flights for 25 years. Jerry flew a total of 1850 cadets from 28 different airfields.
Describing what it is about flying that keeps him at it, Jerry explained; “It is a privilege and a challenge to be in the air. No matter how much flying you have done, every flight is a new experience. Apart from the thrill of being in the air, there is always an element of danger so you leave everything else behind you once you’re airborne.”
On the GAC, Jerry feels that what makes the Club special is the opportunity to share time with like-minded people. He says; “We have a coffee and talk about aeroplanes, then we fly somewhere, sit down and talk about aeroplanes, then we fly back and have a cup of tea and talk about aeroplanes again! How could there be a better way to spend a summers day! We have all built lasting friendships and have gravitated here because Goodwood is a unique and beautiful environment.”