The Day Norfolk Lord Reached for the Skies in a T6 Harvard Fighter
On Sunday 7th June 2015 Lord Russell Baker of Little Moulton had a day with destiny at Historic Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire when he had the privilege of flying a WWII US Navy T6 Harvard Fighter aircraft alongside one of the finest pilots in the World Brendan O’Neil. What a day this was, with bright warm sunshine, not a cloud in the sky and the intense thrill of ‘reaching for the sky’ in an aircraft that Spitfire pilots trained in before doing battle with the Luftwaffe in the ‘Battle of Britain’ during July through September 1940.
An amazing experience providing a mini airshow to the crowd below performing a complete loop the loop and left and right hand twirls over the famous Duxford runway, and I have to say one of the most exciting experiences of my life, so you can forget the best theme parks, this was almost the ultimate thrill possible, and I say almost as Duxford have now said I can fly a Spitfire too, so this will be the ultimate thrill and one I intend to do at some point in 2016.
Brendan O’Neil has also proposed giving myself flying lessons on a one to one basis which will include aircraft, glider and hang glider training along with the ground work, radio and instrumentation knowledge – awesome.
So who is Brendan O’Neil I hear you say? Well read on, an amazing life story which covers in excess of over 200 World aviation Records.
Renowned aviator and airshow commentator Brendan O’Brien has formed his own Flying Circus. Using his considerable showmanship and flying skills he has created a versatile act that will wow the crowds at displays throughout the UK and Europe.
O’Brien’s Flying Circus mixes barnstorming and innovation to create an exciting and awe-inspiring display, combining the art of Crazy Flying with the precision required to land on the world’s smallest runway! The Flying Circus will also include additional acts incorporating a wealth of new aviation talent. Review O’Neil’s Flying Circus – http://obriensflyingcircus.com
Brendan’s ancestry in Ireland goes back to the seventeenth century with Huguenot immigration from France. Although his formative years were spent in London in a quiet family environment, everything changed dramatically when he was orphaned in his early teens and began a life of travel and adventure.
As a child he had been fascinated by birds and perhaps flying was in his blood from birth. Not surprising then that the world of aviation beckoned initially with ballooning and gliding before being seduced by powered flight.
Now, more than forty years later Brendan has over thirteen thousand hours on over three hundred plus types of aircraft and holds a licence to fly every kind of flying machine.
He holds in excess of two hundred aviation world records ratified by the FAI in Paris. He is a CAA display authorisation holder/examiner, test pilot and medalist of the Royal Aero Club and has flown on every continent in the world including Antarctica.
Brendan is also a professional airshow commentator and presented his own TV show for Discovery Wings, which was syndicated globally.
Brendan also trained as a civil and military parachutist and has taken part in several international para-military expeditions including the famous Trans Americas crossing of the infamous Darien Gap.
He has been a keen mountaineer and is an all round naturalist with a particular interest in the fauna and flora of the Polar Regions.
From the awe inspiring moment of his first loop in a glider Brendan developed a fascination for aerobatics which was to become one of the strongest motivational forces in his future flying career.
Though never attracted by airline flying Brendan flew as a single crew commercial pilot for several years in the early days of the UK oil boom in Scotland with such wonderful machines as multi-engine De Havilland Heron and flew that same type on oil support in the Persian Gulf. It was with another DH aircraft, the Twin Otter, that he had the privilege of experiencing the glories of Antarctica.
He has ferried aircraft, many of them single-engine over all the great oceans of the world.
However it was in airshow flying, and in particular “flying circus,” that Brendan was to find his forte and make his mark.
He formed and led the renowned Fournier RF4 Duo aerial ballet flown to the music of the Pink Floyd (whose members he had taught to fly), with his colleague John Taylor.
He brought the amazing “Truck top Landing” to UK and led the first team of wing-walkers in Europe and in the process flew the first inverted wing-walk on that continent with Helen Tempest.
He is also a highly experienced flying instructor/examiner on fixed wing and rotary aircraft, Microlights and gliders and delights in enthusing others to become part of the wonderful world of aviation.
What an amazing man and I’m extremely lucky to be able to learn to fly under the wings of Brendan O’Neil.