Aerobatic champion is remembered

 David William Phillips
David William Phillips

The life of a Stedham man is being remembered following his passing earlier this year at the age of 91 at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester.

David William Phillips lived in Stedham for 53 years. He had been the chairman of the charity Tandem in Midhurst, and one time Vice Chairman of the Conservative branches north of the Downs.

Be it commercial airliners or light aircraft, his life was devoted to flying, and he accumulated over 31,000 flying hours as well as holding a flying licence until the age of 80, He was also the British Aerobatic Champion in 1957.

He was born in St Austell, Cornwall, the son of Percival Phillips DFC, the famous owner of the Cornwall Aviation Company Flying Circus.

His son, Chris Phillips, said: “He learned to fly Tiger Moths with the University Air Squadron at Cambridge, subsequently was attested into the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and ultimately the Royal Air Force. He was duly posted to Canada to complete his training where he passed his ‘wings test’. Returning to the UK he became an RAF Flying Instructor on the Oxford Airspeed and in August 1945 joined 271 Squadron, ferrying VIPs and ex prisoners of war all over Europe in Dakotas. In 1946 he was posted to Cairo as a Captain to undertake calibration duties throughout the Middle East with 216 and 71 Squadrons. Upon leaving the RAF, David Phillips joined Kearsley Airways based at Stansted, quickly becoming Chief Pilot responsible for 3 Dakotas with a heavy involvement in the Berlin Airlift which designed to beat the Russian embargo on goods.”

The picture shows David William Phillips at the Coventry Air Races in 1962, in the single seater biplane Arrow Active, which at a later date he part owned. He is survived by his wife Eve, three children, six grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.

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