R.I.P. Graham White 06/07/2014

demoiselle aaI first met Graham White in the early 1970s. We shared a love of vintage aircraft, homebuilt aircraft and flying. We both hung out at Marshall Airways at Bankstown, and learned to fly at Hoxton Park Flying School. But while my main aim was to learn aerobatics and have fun, Graham wanted to be a commercial pilot.

The odds weren’t in his favour – he was by no means wealthy, was colour blind, and suffered terribly from airsickness. But he had a dream, and persevered until he had achieved far more than I think even he expected. Along the way he learned to fly damn near anything with wings, and helped many other people find ways to follow their own dreams. I don’t think he ever forgot the difficulties he’d faced, and always wanted to help clear the path for others.

The above photo was taken at Rylestone NSW in 1974. Graham (seated) and his friend Peter had been to see “Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines”, and had fallen in love with the Demoiselle. So naturally they built one. It did fly, although not at Rylestone, and not until c.1980. It was just another instance of ignoring the odds and persevering until things worked.

I eventually lost touch with Graham, although I’d run into him at the occasional air show. He was always flying something new, adding to his skills. It came as a terrible shock to learn of his death last Sunday. He died instantly when the aircraft he was flying struck the water off Moruya, NSW. Graham had received his Unrestricted PPL in July 1974, and died almost exactly 40 years since gaining his wings. A life well lived, cut short too soon.

Goodbye old mate – we’ll miss you.

 

The Family Flyer

These photos came from my friend Barb in Oregon, USA. Her dad, Guy Covert, was a keen pilot. These are just a couple of the aircraft he owned over the years.1946 Ercoupe 415c now in  NC aAbove – Guy tying down his 1946 Erco Ercoupe 415c. The aircraft, N2121H, is still active I believe, in North Carolina.

Ercoupe 415g built c1950 now in Maryland aaAbove – Another of Guy’s Ercoupes, this time a 1950 model 415g. This Ercoupe is also still active, in Maryland. He must have had a lot of confidence in the brakes, or his ability to run really fast backwards…

FamilyAbove – N94432 with the rest of the Covert family.

Taylorcraft BC12-65 photo 1966 now in Calif aaAbove – Guy’s very nice Taylorcraft BC12-65 N29690, photographed in 1966, possibly San Francisco. The most recent photos I could find on the ‘net show the aircraft in a disgracefully neglected condition in California.

Dr1aaAbove – One that Guy didn’t buy; a Fokker Dr1 replica at an air show. I suspect this Triplane is from the Kermit Weeks collection.