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Saturday 11th September 2021

Sywell Aerodrome, Northamptonshire, NN6 0BN.

Young Aviators No 15 (YA 015) Saturday 11th September 2021, at Sywell Aerodrome.


Saturday 11th September at Sywell Aerodrome started off a little cloudy but with promises of brightening up and we were not to be disappointed.

We quickly got the registration area set-up, with Covid separation of paramount importance, and we were worried that the hour allotted, with only 1 line of youngsters (instead of the normal 2 lines) would stretch beyond the estimate, but a great job by Peter Morrall from the Scouts Association and new volunteer Mayda Isherwood, ensured a swift registration process was undertaken and we were all ready for the general safety briefing at 10:00.

This year, as there had been no event in 2020, we had pent up demand from not only participants but also pilots and I had registered a total of 133x participants (15x non-Scouts and 118x Scouts), and expecting the usual 10% no shows, but with Scout replacements we came in close to the 133x (see full facts ‘n figures later).

Also I had had an unprecedented interest from pilots this year, thanks in part to the sponsorship of AOPA UK, and also the superb promotion of the event by Andy Fell, who sent out many e-mails and Facebook messages to the BMAA pilots list.  Also very helpful was Mick Elborn of AOPA UK who also got some AOPA members to come along again, with repeated e-mail reminders. 

A total of 26x pilots and 21x aircraft approached me and volunteered their services.

Lily Clark was excellent at the important job of welcoming the pilots and collecting their self-certification forms and giving them the Sywell Aerodrome briefing document and their meal vouchers.

Anyway for me the greatest honour and high-light was the sponsorship this year of Young Aviators No 15, by AOPA UK (  We had been discussing sponsorship since February 2020, when applications had been submitted, but Covid put a stop to that and the YA 015 event in September 2020 was cancelled due to Covid.  For this sponsorship, I have Mick Elborn (Executive Committee Member/Web Administrator) of AOPA UK to thank, for all his support and his unfaltering support of a new area that AOPA UK want to see more of, and we may well see more, albeit smaller regional YA events around the UK, where AOPA UK can continue their support of getting young people involved in aviation.  Both Mick Elborn and AOPA UK Office Manager Mandy Nelson both attended on behalf of AOPA.

AOPA are also very active in trying to save those airfields that are currently under active threat of closure, such as Coventry-Baginton, where a proposed Giga-factory making electric car batteries is slated to close the airfield forever within 3 years, and will isolate a number of active flying clubs, a superb engineering business (overhaul & restoration from small vintage aircraft up to DC-6 size and bigger), a vintage jet overhaul business (Heritage Gas Turbines) and some vintage aircraft (WZ507, the only ex RAF De Haviland Vampire T.11 currently airworthy in the world - see  Also needing to relocate, if the airfield closes, is the Shackleton Trusts Avro Shackleton AEW.2 WR963 rumoured to be going to York - Elvington, and Hawker Siddeley Nimrod MR.2P XV232, which is rumoured to having to relocate to St Mawgan, both at tremendous expense and effort to both their current keepers. This is a real pity as Coventry is the ONLY location in the UK that has the original ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) aircraft and its replacement displayed side-by-side.

This marked a major validation of the event for me, as before I’d always self-funded Young Aviators, apart from the odd £200 sponsorship, which I’d always struggled to get.  This sponsorship enables me to broaden the appeal of the event.  Thanks a million to Mick Elborn and AOPA UK for their faith in sponsoring the event, and I look forward to working together with AOPA UK on future sponsorship opportunities as well as future YA events, Vintage aviation, airfields and STEM opportunities.

2019 (Young Aviators 014) marked the debut of a “Space” element to the event. Previously every event had a variety of different displays, from static gliders, Vintage World War 1 aircraft, to Beech 18s, Harvards, Nanchang in static, a balloon basket with a burner, to marshalling displays, stomp rockets, a complete balloon inflation, model aircraft static and flying displays, to one of the most enjoyed – a hovercraft (well it does fly!) which caused some hilarity when the local police turned up (asking what was up with all the flying aircraft) and the PC later came back with a huge grin on his face, after having a glide around in the hovercraft – however I did request he did not do a broadcast on the police radio, otherwise potentially we could’ve had the full local constabulary in attendance!!!.

This year we welcomed Space Store back again. I had seen them in Farnborough in July 2018, when I was helping on the RAeS Build-a-Plane stand, and I’d heard Tim Peake (one of my hero’s) was giving a talk next door. I spoke with them afterwards and they agreed to take part in YA 014.  They came with a Space Suit (very popular exhibit) which could be worn, and they had some VR goggles, and sold some merchandise.  They also offered two of the young aviators a work experience day. 

Unfortunately this year due to Covid, we could not use the Space Suit, but Lea Ringler and Chloe Green enjoyed themselves and reported another great response and brisk trade.

Alongside them in Hangar 2, we had Phil Johnson, from The Guild of Aviation Artists  who ran the 2021 FAI aviation artist competition and later reported that we have some amazingly talented people of all ages, who took part and he yet again thoroughly enjoyed the event.

Between these two we had a new exhibit, compliments of the excellent charity Fly2Help and Kim Lewington, her husband Darren (who also has a business making art pieces from parts of aircraft and they, with her son Kieran Foottit, brought along the amazing “Travelling Airport” exhibition, which is an amazing set-up, showing the path of a passenger through an airport, from Security, through Check-in, getting on board the aircraft, flying the aircraft, marshalling, air traffic control and many other aspects of a typical journey on an aircraft. This reminded me of the exhibition at the Heathrow Visitors centre on the northern perimeter, when they had the centre set up to show case Terminal 5 before it was approved and built.  A thoroughly engaging display and thanks to Kim and her team for coming along.

Out in the square, we had two static aircraft – the beautiful SIAI-Marchetti SF.260 aerobatic aircraft G-RAZI, with its owner Paul Freedland. Paul is a display pilot and he shows RAZI off to great effect at the likes of Duxford and other displays.  G-RAZI is Swell based, and Paul is also a share holder with Alina and Peter Kerr, in Beagle 121 Pup G-AVLN (MSN 004) also Sywell based, and who showed their lovely aircraft off to good effect and got the grey cells tested by giving adults and Young Aviators alike, a list of potential problems, that had to be identified and rectified before a flight.

Two Microlights from Headon near Retford, Nottinghamshire, alas did not make it as they were going to be in static and their passengers would have taken part as Young Aviators. Perhaps next year?.

Finally Amanda Lord and Rob Mott of the British Microlight Aircraft Association ( very kindly arranged and manned the BMAA Flight Simulator, which was kept very busy all day by prospective pilots.

A big Thank You to Steve Dancer and Sebastian Pooley at Pooleys ( for providing all the goodie bags once again, and for providing Jon Edington and his team with some charts, rulers and protractors for the navigation training, to Steve Slater CEO of the Light Aircraft Association ( for their excellent LAA Today summary magazine, as well as a copy of their wonderful Airfield Booklet for youngsters.

Last but definitely not least Jon Edginton and his able team of Gavin Richards, Damian Mattock and Mark Parker did a superb job of running the navigation training sessions for the very first time, in the room beside the porch of the hotel, and will hopefully come back to do more of the same in YA 2022.

I was also very lucky to have the following additional volunteers - Tommy Dwyer, Fii West-Ley and her son Tor West-Ley (who was our 1,000th Young Aviator back in YA 014 in September 2019), Denise Faehndrich who brought along the cakes and cut them, Frank and Milly Leonhardt from the Scouts, and a final thanks to Jonathan and Judith Hazell, who for the 5th year running co-ordinated the Northamptonshire Scouts from all the various Districts, and also once again set up and ran the Bus Stop so expertly, which meant we got to fly all Young Aviators and some additional adults and a few kids as well.  A terrific achievement and a very special thanks to Jonathan and Judith for all their sterling efforts over the last 5 years. Assisting them were Mick McGurk and Ian Dunkley.

All 30x volunteers and 24x Pilots were fed and watered as a very small “Thank You” for coming along to Sywell to fly the youngsters and the inevitable adults and even a few kids who flew with their Mums.

Participating pilots & aircraft were;

G-SLNT Flight Design CTSW (Ben Oram & Kevin Walton),

G-CEAM Eurostar Ev97 (Carl Skerritt & Jeremy Rawlings),

G-XLAM Skyranger 912S (Chris Levings, Matthew Burham & Richard Wenham),

G-CJAK Skyranger (Allan Birt),

G-CMEW WT9 Dynamic Microlight (Michael Frost),

G-CIGG Flexwing P&M GTR (Phil Smith) and G-GTFC Flexwing P&M Qwik (Andy Fell),

G-JENK Ikarus C42 FB80 (Paul Neve) and G-CEGL Ikarus C42 FB80 (Stuart Threadgill),

G-MACC Carbon Cub EX-2 (Mark Albery),

G-OWBA Pioneer 300 Hawk (Ben Davis),

G-CDAX P&M Quik 912 Flexwing (Laurie Hurman),

G-CDKK Flexwing P&M Qwik (Paul Knight),

G-RESG Dyn Aero MCR-01 Club (Richard Greenwood),

G-DGAV P & M Aviation Quik 912S (Matt Howe),

G-LPIN Flexwing P&M GTR (Geoffrey Coan),

G-BGMJ GY201 Minicab (Tony Wakefield & John Hawkins),

G-MOVI Piper PA32R-301 (Jason Bray and John Beasley).

Scout Groups taking part were -  Barton-le-Clay (24x), 2nd Cottesmore (10x), 2nd Cambourne (21x), Whiteleaf (5x), 1st Stoke Poges (5x), 22nd Oxford Sea Scouts Mercury Troop (6x), 28th Oxford (Littlemore) (6x), 43rd Oxford Old Marston (12x), 1st Coventry (Allesley Village) (10x) and Northamptonshire Scouts (24x).

Facts and Figures

So what were the final totals? - on Saturday 11th September 2021 we had a total of 127x flights, by 20x aircraft flown by 24x pilots. We flew a total of 140x - made up of 122x Young Aviators (11x Non-Scouts, 111x Scouts), plus 16x adults and 2x kids. This year we had our 1,000th Young Aviator Flight, while in 2019 we had our 1,000th Young Aviator fly.

This now gives us a total of 1,220x youngsters (360x non-Scouts, 848x Scouts and 12x ATC) and 186x adults on 1,037x flights, in 173x aircraft, flown by 185x pilots in 15x annual events at Sywell Aerodrome, Northamptonshire.   Not a bad record by any stretch of the imagination.

Finally a HUGE thanks once more to Sywell Aerodrome, to owner Michael Bletsoe-Brown and Kathy Putnam, for being so generous in their hosting of the event, and for providing Hangar 2, the Navigation Room and waiving all the landing fees for all the Young Aviator flights. To Siobhan and all great team in The Pilots Mess, for doing the catering and for helping with the pilots lunches being provided so punctually.

A fantastic 15th Annual event and here’s looking forward to more of the same at the 16th Annual Young Aviators event at Swyell Aerodrome on Saturday 10th September 2022 – see

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