MIKE ABBEY

Mike was born in Norwich in 1956 but brought up and educated in Bicester, Oxfordshire. The gliding bug bit early as a result of many happy hours helping his father build and repair gliders and small aeroplanes. He began flying at the age of 12, soloing on his 16th birthday. Mike joined the Royal Navy in 1975 and trained on the Bulldog and Gazelle before qualifying as a Commando helicopter pilot with 845 NAS flying the Wessex HU.5.

 

In 1979 he converted to the Westland Wasp as Frigate Flight Commander in HMS Bacchante, serving in the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Africa. After completing the QHI course in 1981 he moved to 705 NAS at RNAS Culdrose teaching ab-initio helicopter pilots the intricacies of the Gazelle - a most satisfying task. A return to 845 NAS Wessex beckoned with tours in Norway, Northern Ireland and the West Indies embarked in HMS Fearless.

 

In 1986 Mike converted to the Lynx helicopter as Flight Commander in HMS Boxer, deploying to the Baltic and defending the Iceland/Faroes Gap, later moving to 829 NAS HQ Flt as the Training Officer. Promoted Lieutenant Commander in 1988 he joined the Naval Flying Standards Flight (Rotary Wing), flying and examining on the Sea King, Lynx and Gazelle. A return to the Commando world as Senior Pilot of 707 NAS on the Sea King HC.4 followed, later rejoining 845 NAS again but this time as the Commanding Officer with deployments to Brunei, Malaysia and the East Coast of America and tours in Bosnia working under the UN and IFOR.

 

Mike's first non-flying job in twenty five years came in 1998 when he became Deputy Commanding Officer of the RN Commando Helicopter Force. Appointed an MBE in 1999 he was keen to return to flying duties and in 2001 migrated across to the fixed wing fraternity and the Jetstream T.3s of 750 NAS Heron Flt. In 2002 he began displaying the Swordfish with RNHF and later became Flight Commander, a post he relinquished in 2005 on his appointment as an Air Accident Investigation Advisor. He moved job in October 2007 to become Lt Cdr (Flying) at Yeovilton. Mike's final appointment in the Royal Navy was as the Commanding Officer of the RN Historic Flight. He is now a freelance flying instructor and aviation consultant. Mike has three grown up sons and enjoys field sports particularly working his two Gundogs.

Mike now flies the Spitfire at the Academy.

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

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