Vintage Aircraft Club

John L Broad

Aircraft and flying have always been at the forefront of my interests; I remember whilst at school painting a picture of a DH Chipmunk in the art class when everyone else was painting scenes, still life, etc! I joined the Air Training Corps, rising to the rank of Corporal. Blagging flights on the Beverley’s at RAF Abingdon was a strange way to get into the air but fun. Camps at RAF stations expanded my knowledge with a camp at RAF Hawkinge enabling me to get my gliding A & B licence.

Working at Pressed Steel Fisher, and all its subsequent iterations of name, got in the way for a while until throwing money at Wycombe Air Centre allowed me to work on obtaining my PPL; the first flight being on the 1st April 1978 – was this an April fool?  Conversion to the club Cessna 172 and PA28, meant friends and family went flying as well. The touring group set up at WAC was a great way for 4 pilots to explore the UK and the near continent with some really interesting (!?) journeys.  Around this time the opportunity to fly as “Pilots Assistant” on charter flights out of Heathrow in a Beech King Air proved fun with a huge variety of passengers and cargo. This is not allowed any more, such a shame!

It was obvious to me that I should join the Popular Flying Association and attend the interesting meetings of the Oxford Strut. Having volunteered to join the Oxford Strut committee I soon found myself also being its representative on the PFA, now LAA National Council; now disbanded.

Hire charges and aircraft booking problems convinced my friend Alan Biggs and me to look for our own machine. The delightful Aeronca Champion G-AJON became our steed for many years gently taking us to many events and locations. We started the Aeronca Club of GB, which has now been taken on so ably by Peter White.  Financial constraints for me were resolved by a third member joining the group, the extremely experienced ex RAF and BA Captain, Derek Moores.  Derek left to fly for the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) in Kenya and Alan moved to Herefordshire meaning the dear old Aeronca was sold to a friend in Devon.

Not much flying these days but the aviation work takes enough of my time now that I’m retired from BMW, which is what the company became over the years, such that I wouldn’t have time to go to work anyway. All good fun though!

Flying the vintage Aeronca also meant I just had to join the Vintage Aircraft Club in 1990 and soon found myself on its committee. After a stint as chairman of the then PFA NC I put my name forward to join the VAC's executive committee and went on to be its Chairman until 2012. During this period I also chaired the Light Aircraft Association’s safety and environmental committee and was the LAA Association Secretary.  To make the connection between the various vintage aviation groups I also joined the council of the Historic Aircraft Association.

I joined the Board in 2007 as a Director and Trustee of the charitable company and was appointed Vice Chairman in 2014.  I represent the GASCo at CHIRP General Aviation Board meetings and I am also a member of the Airspace Infringements Working Group.  I shall be stepping down from the Board at the 2022 Annual General Meeting.