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Forty-Seven Years Aloft: From Cold War Fighters and Flying the PM to Commercial Jets (Hardback)

A Pilot's Remarkable Story During the Golden Era of British Aviation

Aviation British History Colour Books Royal Air Force 20th Century

By Brian Burdett
Imprint: Air World
Pages: 376
ISBN: 9781526753038
Published: 30th June 2019

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London-born Brian Burdett had only one career objective – to be a pilot. By the time he touched down on his last flight, Brian had flown more than twenty-five different types of aircraft both for the RAF and a variety of famous commercial airlines.

It all began for Brian, as it has for so many, with the Air Cadets, flying Tiger Moths. He obtained his civil license, and six months later he was accepted into the RAF. The year was 1954.

With the RAF he graduated from Piston Provost trainers, to the de Havilland Vampire and eventually the Hawker Hunter. It was to fly Hunters that Brian was posted to 257 (Burma) Squadron at Wattisham in Suffolk, where the jets were frequently scrambled to intercept Soviet intruders in the dark days of the Cold War.

His RAF career developed further with a transfer to Transport Command where Brian could fly the planes he loved the best – the big jets. After training on Handley Page Hastings, Brian was given the chance to fly the famous de Havilland Comet. With 216 Squadron, flying high above the ceiling for commercial aircraft, Brian flew the long-distance routes between the RAF bases around the world, through the Middle East, Pakistan, Shri Lanka and down to South Africa and Australasia. This included taking personnel to Woomera and Christmas Island nuclear testing sites.

After a period as a trainer at Cranwell, Brian became the youngest four-jet captain in the world. He then flew VIPs around Europe in the RAF’s VC10s, his passengers included the then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, among other dignitaries. Brian eventually turned to the commercial world, flying Falcons, VC 10s, Tristars and every type of Boeing 747, for a variety of airlines.

His adventures are legion. From a double engine failure on take-off and still managing to land safely, to losing control in cloud and levelling off feet from the ground, to a mid-air near miss with an American aircraft that no-one knew was there, to spotting a strange object that remains unidentified to this day.

Brian’s last flight was into Los Angeles in an Airbus 340, in December 2000. He had 22,500 hours in his log book, after forty-seven years aloft.

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About Brian Burdett

For London-born Brian Burdett his flying career began, as it did for so many, with the Air Cadets, with which he was flying Tiger Moths by the age of just fourteen. Brian joined the RAF in 1954, the start of a flying career which spanned the next forty-seven years. In this period, he flew fast jets such as the Vampire and Hunter, before switching to four-engine transports. After a period as a trainer at the RAF College Cranwell, Brian became the youngest four-jet captain in the world. Brian’s last flight was into Los Angeles in an Airbus 340, in December 2000.

Perfect Partner

Adventures of a Cold War Fast-Jet Navigator The Buccaneer Years (Hardback)

David Herriot served almost 40 years in the Royal Air Force as a navigator, first on the Buccaneer S2 and subsequently on the Tornado GR1. This volume recounts his early career operating the Buccaneer on three operational flying tours plus a tour as an instructor on the Operational Conversion Unit. With almost 2500 hours on an aircraft that was operated at high-speed, in all weathers and at ultra low-level, his task in the rear seat was a demanding one. But Herriot was more than just the guy in the back of a Buccaneer; he was, quite routinely, and often to the exasperation of his seniors, the…

By David Herriot

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