Chris has been flying since 1985 and first flew a Tiger Moth, at the Royal Air Force College Cranwell, in 1986. After qualifying as a flying instructor in 1988, the RAF decided it was time he learned to drive! Chris’ RAF career included engineering, Flight Safety and International Relations, after which he worked briefly as a freelance pilot on a variety of historic and aerobatic aeroplanes, including the Harvard, Twin Pioneer, Antonov An2 and CAP10. A year flying freight in darkest West Africa was followed by 4 years with a European regional airline and over 5 years with a major middle eastern airline. Chris has been flying the public in vintage and aerobatic aeroplanes since 2000 and has enjoyed the privilege of flying many World War Two veterans, including former fighter pilots, bomber crews and engineers. He also displays all aircraft in the Finest Hour fleet. Despite his breadth of experience, Chris claims that nothing puts a smile on a customer’s face quite like a ride in the iconic Tiger Moth.
‘Shents’ RAF service included 3 tours as a pilot and instructor on the Tornado F3, during which he displayed the Spitfire and Hurricane with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. Currently a training captain with a major UK airline, on 28 August 2010, Paul led the Airbus / Spitfire / Hurricane formation to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain; he remains current on a locally based Hurricane.
Billeus was presented with his RAF 'wings' by Sir Douglas Bader and went on to complete his first tour flying the Vulcan bomber, including the Falklands conflict. After a period as an instructor on the Jet Provost, Bill converted to the Tornado F3. Throughtout his RAF career, he maintained his passion for vintage aircraft by flying Air Experience Flight Chipmunks in addition to his other duties. Bill's post RAF career has seen him flying the Boeing 747, 757, 767 and his current mount, the 787 which he flies as a Training Captain. Bill has displayed various aerobatic light aeroplanes, the Mustang, Spitfire and, of course, the Vulcan.
Graham is Finest Hour’s ‘heavy metal’ specialist. During an aviation career lasting over 30 years, he has gained substantial experience as an instructor and examiner on aeroplanes ranging from the smallest light aeroplanes to the largest jet transports. Formerly a Civil Aviation Authority Flight Ops Inspector, where his responsibilities ranged from heavy historic aeroplanes to Unmanned Aerial Systems, Graham then spent 4 years as a wide body examiner in the Middle East, before returning home to England’s green and pleasant land to fly as an examiner on the mighty Boeing 747 and now the Boeing 787. He has also displayed the Fouga Magister jet trainer.
Tim learned to fly on Chipmunks with the RAF University Air Squadron in Belfast. Following a period as a flying instructor, his commercial flying career started on the DC-3 with Skyways, based in Aberdeen. After 7 years with Aer Lingus, including secondments to a number of African airlines, Tim spent 30 years based in Hong Kong, flying the Boeing 747, retiring from this in 2016. In addition to giving lessons in the Finest Hour Tiger Moth, Tim flies a spirited display in the Beech 18, which he has owned since 1998.
Ivor’s flying career started on the mighty Shackleton with the RAF. Once qualified as an instructor, Ivor gravitated towards display flying and led the Red Pelicans formation team, flying the Jet Provost. Following a period in Flight Safety, Ivor completed a lengthy airline career with a number of airlines worldwide. Ivor is still our keenest Tiger Moth pilot, but we suspect his new love is the CAP10!'
The de Havilland Aircraft Company developed and first flew the Tiger Moth in 1931, and it went on to be arguably the most successful biplane training aeroplane ever built, training thousands of pilots during the Second World War. Tiger Moths played a crucial role in the Battle of France, acting as one of the few reliable means of communication in a land where the roads were blocked by the ravages of war.
Find out more about the history of our Tiger Moths here.
Hand built in wood by Norman craftsmen, the CAP10 has to be the finest aerobatic training aeroplane ever built. Used in numbers by the French Air Force, the Armee de L’Air, it outperforms its British equivalent in all respects while using an engine of 10% less power. The CAP10B is a true thoroughbred that has helped many of Europe’s leading aerobatic pilots to learn their craft. The superb visibility from the CAP’s ‘bubble’ canopy and its reassuring side-by-side seating are just two of the features making the CAP the perfect choice for your Finest Aerobatic Experience.
The sole surviving example of its type, G-AFFD was delivered to Sir Philip Sassoon on 2 March 1938. She was Impressed into the RAF for the duration of World War Two, spending 1940 with No 6 Anti Aircraft Co-Operation Unit, training the Air Defences of Manchester, Liverpool and North Wales. Given military serial X9407, she spent the remainder of the War as a VIP transport aeroplane at a variety of RAF stations. G-AFFD is currently under restoration by our partner in her ownership, Rex Ford. To learn more about her history and those who flew her, click here.