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I lived in Murton down on the coast near Seaham Harbour, and cycled the 25 miles up to Newcastle Airport at weekends to do some planespotting, but mainly to take photographs as my father was a professional photographer, and he trained me. Aircraft were a fascinating and powerful subject, and I have never lost that buzz.
It was Jimmy Denyer who came up to the fence one day and suggested we few lads form ourselves into a group with him as our chairman. He would lay down the rules, and he would allow us on the other side of the fence, and basically have the time of or lives, getting involved in what was otherwise a closed shop. He was my first mentor.

I had made sufficient contacts to work for the opposition, Silver City, as a temporary traffic officer in the summer holidays. That was under Dave King. It was at this time I knew Jim Shields.

Within a short time, I left to join Air Traffic Control as an Assistant in the tower at Manchester, but finally succeeded in getting Cambrian Airways to sponsor me for ab initio pilot training. So I joined the fold of British Air Services when Cambrian and Northeast were grouped together, flying the Viscount 701/806 and then the One-Eleven.

I left BA in 1977 at the age of 32, and variously flew as a skipper with Air Westward out of Exeter, Air BVI in the British Virgin Islands, Executive Express in Luton, LIAT in Grenada, Jersey European back at Exeter, and finally air ambulance for a Franco-Australian diamond mine in the Marxist Revolutionary Republic of Guinea in West Africa.

I did fly on a BKS Ambassador down to London in 1961, and did a jump-seat trip from London to Newcastle in a Trident as Northeast. I remember being quite taken aback when the crew put the top engine into reverse on very short finals; not something I could do on the 1-11 for obvious reasons.

Kindest Regards,

Austin Brown


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