The Mike Wildeman Story – Part 2

The Mike Wildeman Story – Part 2

This is the second part of my interview with Mike Wildman, an amputee pilot who has had a fascinating career in aviation. The first part covered Mike’s life in the Royal Air Force flying, amongst other aircraft, the C130 Hercules. In this part we hear about his life changing decision to have part of his left leg removed and his fight, not only to get back into the cockpit of an aircraft but to lead the world’s first disabled formation display team.


Recording the interview with Mike in front of a Yak 52


Mike, a Captain with Virgin Atlantic Airways


Mike after his life changing decision to have part of his left leg removed


Aerobility, the organisation that got Mike back into the air as an amputee pilot


Sir Douglas Bader, a double amputee WWII Battle of Britain fighter pilot


The pilots of the world’s first amputee formation team


The Bader Bus Company Still Running formation team


Mike climbing out of his Yakovlevs Yak 52



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the RAF, Aerobility, the Yakovlevs, the Bader Bus Company and Mike Wildman.

The Mike Wildeman Story – Part 1

The Mike Wildeman Story – Part 1

Mike Wildman is an amputee pilot who has had a fascinating career in aviation. This tale is about his time in the Royal Air Force flying the C130 Hercules in some very challenging theatres. His story will both amaze and inspire, particularly in the later parts when we will cover his work as the leader of the world’s only fully aerobatic amputee formation team…


Mike, learning to fly


Mike during his RAF basic flying training



Mike was posted to fly the C130 Hercules


Low flying over the desert


Mike, the captain of a Belgium Air Force C130 during his exchange tour


The EPTS Andover that Mike flew


The Boscome Down Comet 4 named Canopus that Mike flew to the North Pole


The day at RIAT when a Mig 29 crashed onto Mike’s aircraft nearly killing him and the others who were watching the show from the top of the fuselage!


Contact details for Mike and Team Phoenix, the world’s only disabled aerobatic formation team



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Mike Freer, RuthAS and the RAF.

Where it All Began

Where it All Began

The Old Pilot ventures back to the little airport where his career in aviation began nearly half a century previously, meets the young lady now doing his old job and recalls some adventures from his early days.


Many thanks to Nev of Plane Talking UK for providing the audio visual equipment


Grace talks about Synergy Flight Training


The Old Pilot does his thing!



Thanks to those who came

The Millionaire’s Mob

The Millionaire’s Mob

White’s is the oldest and most exclusive Gentleman’s club in London its members have included more Earls, Dukes, Lords, Barrons, Princes, Knights, Viscounts. Marquesses, heads of industry and notable politicians than you could shake a stick at. The name we’re interested in, though, is that of Lord Edward Grosvenor, the youngest son of the 1st Duke of Westminster. It was in White’s that Grosvenor had the idea to form an RAF Squadron of wealthy aristocratic young aviators all of whom were already amateur pilots and members of the club… this is the story of that Squadron.


Hot Chocolate, the drink that started it all


Chocolate and Coffee Houses were known for anarchy, licentiousness, gambling, hobnobbing, and politicking.


White’s, the oldest and most exclusive Gentleman’s club in London


The French Foreign Legion


The Gordon Bennett Balloon Race trophy


An officer and a gentleman


The Avro 504


No 601 Squadron the County of London


Swapping cockpits


Billy Fisk III driving the 1932 US Olympic bobsled team


The Hawker Hurricane


Canadian Sir John William Maxwell Aitken


The Millionaire’s Hurricanes over England



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the Library of Congress, Afro Bighair, Anthony O’Neil, the National Archives, Deutsche Fotothek and the RAF.

The Sensory Pilot

The Sensory Pilot

The world of a pilot is different to any other. They see things from a different perspective and view the world from places that even the mightiest birds cannot reach. All their faculties of sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing experience sensations unique to their position whether they are manoeuvring a mighty airliner or sliding through the air on sheets of silk in a slippery sailplane. When they get a chance, even the most professional and conscientious pilots will take a moment to marvel at their world. These are treasured moments that they will lock in their hearts and only bring out in quiet moments of contemplation, perhaps when they look back and realise what a life of wonder they have led.

The gear


The brain










Goon suit





Ice rivers


Ice bergs


Streets of cumuli