David William Phillips (34-41C)
Airline Pilot and aerobatic Champion with over 31,000 flying hours Captain David Phillips, who has died aged 91, was born with flying in his veins, and loved being airborne. He held a flying licence until his 80th birthday, accumulating 31,037 flying hours in a long list of commercial and light aircraft. He was born David William Phillips on 24th November 1924, in St Austell, Cornwall, his father being the legendary aviator, Capt. Percival Phillips DFC, owner of a Flying Circus and the Cornwall Aviation Company. Educated at West Buckland School in North Devon, David Phillips left school in 1940 to join the Bristol Aeroplane Company as a student apprentice in the Bristol factory. He then 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 VIP,s 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. Various aircraft were flown including the Vickers Wellington, Airspeed Oxfords, Lockheed Lodestars, Arguses, Percival Proctors, and even a Beechcraft Staggerwing. In Cairo he met Forces Broadcasting Announcer, Avis Candy, whom he married in 1948 and with whom he had two sons. Following dissolution of that marriage, he married Eve Shakerley in 1963 with whom he had one daughter.
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. This often involved 4 return flights per day. Spare time involved giving joyrides over London in the DH Rapide. On completion of the Berlin Airlift he joined Airwork Ltd based at Blackbushe Airport from where he flew scheduled services to Europe and West Africa in Vikings and Viscounts. During long Safari flights, and prior to the days of In Flight Entertainment, he would play his harmonica over the aircraft PA system.
Airwork subsequently moved to Gatwick evolving into British United Airways, British Caledonian, and finally to British Airways. During this period Capt Phillips was fortunate to experience many commercial airline types including the Bristol Brittania, VC10, Boeing 707, and finally the wide bodied DC10. Following retirement from British Caledonian in 1984, he flew with a number of smaller airlines such as Euroair, Connectair, and Air Europe, mostly to European destinations in the Embraer Bandeirante, Short 330 and 360. He ceased commercial flying aged 65.
Throughout his life David Phillips had to be airborne, be it ‘on’ or ‘off’ duty, with much of his leisure time committed to flying light aircraft for fun.
In 1952 he became interested in air racing and in 1957 joined the Tiger Club based at Redhill. In the same year he won the British Aerobatic Championship at White Waltham in a Tiger Moth. The Tiger Club held Air Displays throughout the summer months with David Phillips making regular appearances, be it aerobatics, balloon bursting, formation flying, racing, or flour bombing. The Tiger Club had a variety of aircraft including , Hornet Moth , Condor, Jodel, Arrow Active and Rollason Turbulents. He duly became part owner of the historic single seater bi-plane Arrow Active 2, in which he raced and performed aerobatics.
In later years he owned a fixed wing Luscombe 8F Silvaire which he kept at Goodwood until age 80. David Phillips also loved village life and was one time Vice Chairman of the Conservative branches, North of the Downs.. He was also past Chairman of the Midhurst Charity, Tandem, which provides support for the disabled and elderly, particularly the provision of transport.
He is survived by his wife Eve, 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren
David Phillips, born November 24th 1924. Died May 8th 2016