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VIDEO: Memories of Concorde world records

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Norman Gilham from Capel always wanted to fly.

Born in 1926, he was first inspired by the legend of Jimmy McCuddon - a decorated world war one fighter pilot.

Mr Gilham grew up opposite the McCudden family and from a young age flying became his passion.

However, his dreams of taking the cockpit controls were scuppered during the second world war when he was transferred from the RAF volunteer reserve to the army - the letter informing him he had become ‘surplus to requirements’.

But as the national secretary of the Royal Flying Corps Veterans Association he fulfilled many of his aviation ambitions, including flying on Concorde.

Indeed, Mr Gilham flew on more than 300 supersonic flights with Concorde, after he started his business Concorde Charter Flights in 1980.

It was born from his desire to secure his veterans passage on Concorde.

“Bare in mind that every one of them without exception, and I am not a member and have never been one, were all born before the Wright brothers had left the ground” he said.

“Therefore when we saw Concorde, supersonic, my aim was to get members on the aircraft, so they had completed the hole circle from zero to supersonic.”

Norman achieved this in 1980, having persuaded an initially reluctant British Airways to charter a Concorde.

From then on his business boomed, and for a fraction of the cost of traditional first class passage, Norman helped more than 30,000 passengers fly faster than the speed of sound.

The highlight of this period was a three day trip to Sydney and back on February 13, 1985, which broke four world records.

Watch the video above to hear Mr Gilham’s reminiscences of the historic flight as he talks to Theo Cronin.

The Concorde was commanded by a Horsham pilot called Hector McMullen, in whose name the records are held.

See this tomorrow’s County Times (February 7, 2013) for an exclusive feature, including more pictures, comment and memories from Captain McMullen.

A video of Capt McMullen is also be available to view at www.wscountytimes.co.uk.

Do you have a story? Contact Theo Cronin on 01403 751 233, or email theo.cronin@sussexnewspapers.co.uk

 

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