Denis Wood is an Aero Club Member and ex-British Airways Captain. Here he talks about his life since retirement.
I spent nearly thirty years flying as a pilot for British Airways, from 1957 to 1983, flying Dakotas, then Viscounts, Comet 4s and de Havilland Tridents. On retiring, I acquired a 1934 de Havilland Leopard Moth with a friend. We based it at Goodwood for ten years before finally selling it to a Swissair pilot. It was a beautiful vintage aeroplane, which started life as G-ACGS, the initials of its first owner, Gordon Selfridge of department store fame.
The Leopard’s history is fascinating; in 1937 it was sold to a Dutchman and re-registered in Holland. Just before the German occupation of Holland, the owner flew it over the North Sea at night and crash-landed in Norfolk. During World War II the parts were stored in a hangar in Southampton and bought by Peter Franklin. After the war it was rebuilt and re-registered in the early 60s as G-APKH. At present, it is being restored to a very high standard with its original registration, G-ACGS.
On my 60th birthday, I decided to build a high-performance 4-seater Velocity pusher canard aeroplane with a friend. Living in southern France, we had the kit sent from Sebastian in Florida, hired a small hangar at Cannes Airport and started work. After five years, we needed help with the engine and avionics installation so we boxed it up into special crates and returned them to Florida.
Details of the work and subsequent flight back over the Atlantic in 2003 are recorded in my recent book ‘My High Life – When Flying Really was Fun’.
Building a light aircraft in the UK requires co-operation with the Popular Flying Association whose engineers need to oversee and sign off the work as it progresses. Unfortunately, as we built our Velocity in France and completed it in America, we faced many problems!
Denis’s book ‘My High Life – When Flying Really was Fun’ is available on Amazon.