BRIAN SMITH

Brian Smith’s interest in aviation started in his schoolboy days, when he spent his weekends and holidays cleaning aeroplanes and sweeping the hangar at nearby Redhill aerodrome, home of the world famous Tiger Club. He learnt to fly in 1969 on a Tiger Moth, and within a year had entered and won his first aerobatic competition. 1972 saw Brian embarking on his professional flying career, flying CL44 freighters on world-wide routes. His interest in aerobatics continued, culminating as a member of the British Aerobatic Team in 1976 / 77.

Brian continued along his airline career, converting onto Boeing 707s in 1978 with American Airlines. He was the youngest captain to ever pass though their Dallas (Texas) Flight Training Academy, and went on to eventually qualify on Boeing 737 and 757 aircraft. Prior to his retirement in 2015, Brian spent his final 15 years as a training captain flying Boeing 747s, accumulating a career total of around 27000 hours flying time.

Throughout his career, Brian has maintained a love of historic aircraft and has been active on the air display circuit for over 40 years. He checked out in the legendary Spitfire in 1986, subsequently flying 8 variants of the type, and has flown and displayed a broad spectrum of WW2 piston fighters for various owners and operators based at Duxford for over 30 years. In 2017, he was awarded the Hanna trophy for “an outstanding contribution to the art of display flying of historic, vintage or modern fighter aircraft”.

Brian lives near Horsham, Sussex with his wife Gilly. They have two offspring; daughter Kate is a physiotherapist whilst son Nick is following in his father’s footsteps as an aviator -  currently a Royal Navy pilot instructing on the new F35 Lightning II in America.

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Photography:  John Dibbs, Richard Paver, Andy Annable, Jon Le Ray, Darren Harbar

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