Phil and I were fellow aircraft spotters at school in Windsor from 1961. We both had our first balloon flights on the same afternoon in April 1971, significantly Phil with Don Cameron. Phil was so ‘sold’ on the idea of forming a syndicate that by December 5th of the same year we had found another eight like-minded individuals, formed the Dante Balloon Group and taken delivery of Cameron O-65 G-AZIP with a bit of help from BOAC. He gained his PPL(B) in 1972 and had been flying ever since, becoming a CofA inspector, then one of the first ‘approved instructors’, a CPL (B) when introduced in the UK in 1989. He became an examiner and sat on just about all the BBAC Committees – some as chairman – at various times since.
Away from ballooning he was a management trainee at BOAC/BA after leaving Bristol (significant !) University. He then moved to Shorts in Belfast selling commuter airliners, moved to ITEL an American airliner leasing company and then was selected to set up SAAB-Fairchild International a joint Swedish/USA sales organisation marketing the SF.340 Commuter Airliner, with a base back in Windsor. Then the job for which most balloonists will remember Phil – with a return to Bristol selling Cameron Balloons. At age 55 he officially left Camerons concentrating on other balloon related projects, one of which involved the setting up of the commercial ballooning operations in Burma/Myanmar. His pragmatic, British-based views on how things should operate and selection of pilots formed the basis of several competing operators. The safety record there speaks for itself. It is also where he met his second wife, Allie. Sometime later he fulfilled a dream of purchasing an aeroplane that could carry him and Allie and a small balloon to some of the countries not yet in his logbook. Beech 18 G-BKRM took us to Metz in 2015 before the big trip for him, Allie and a hired pilot (Phil had no fixed wing licence) , spread over two summers to The Caribbean and Central America, which included landing – and ballooning in Cuba ! His final ‘tally’ of countries in which he made a free flight is a record breaking 117…
Phil also sat on various general aviation committees, presenting ballooning’s views on airspace, legislation, licensing etc which along with his keen aviation interests resulted in him being selected in 2019 as the General Aviation Advocate for The Department for Transport.
Phil was certainly a ‘doer’ and worked hard to make things happen and is a hard act to follow… Also a good drinking mate over so many years.
Our sincere condolences to Allie, balloon CPL son Nick, daughters Hannah, Fiona and Pippa and their mother Jane.