Concorde pilot to speak next week at Grantham Aviation Society meeting

Les Evans.
Les Evans.
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A pilot with many years’ experience to draw on will speak at the next meeting of the Grantham Aviation Society (GAS).

Les Evans will present ‘Concorde – A Pilot’s View’ at the meeting on Tuesday (November 26), at the Great Gonery Social Club.

The society’s Simon East said: “This should prove to be an interesting night as Les Evans has had a remarkable career and now spends his time giving talks to aviation societies and on cruise ships.”

GAS has a long history in Grantham and still has 80 members who receive a monthly newsletter filled with aviation-related stories and facts, supplied by the members themselves to share.

The first meeting of GAS was held on the March 10, 1982, at ATC HQ, by a small group of like-minded aviation enthusiasts who decided to form a society for ‘the man in the street’.

The group immediately produced a monthly newsletter and by August 1982, its monthly meeting was held on the fourth Thursday of the month at the Shirley Croft Hotel. Film shows, slideshows talks, lectures and visits to RAF and civilian airfields were aplenty.

In July 1984, members held a meeting about the possibility and interest in forming a No 5 Grp Heritage museum in the disused premises of St Vincent’s in Grantham.

On May 19, 1985, No 5 Grp Museum opened to the public by Sqn Ldr Dave Shannon, who was a former Dambuster pilot. The museum closed in early 1988, after South Kesteven District Council sold the building and land.

In January 1993, GAS moved its monthly meetings from the Shirley Croft hotel to Great Gonerby Social club and held them on the fourth Tuesday of every month. The society has held their meetings here for 20 years now.

Its meetings consist of talks, which this year have included subjects such as the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance, Yorkshire Air Museum, Nimrod Lightning Group, the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters’ raid and presentations by a Vulcan pilot and Boeing 747 pilot.

All are welcome to attend GAS meetings.

** Biography of Captain Les Evans, Harrier pilot, test pilot, Concorde pilot

Les combines an extensive knowledge of aviation with an entertaining and popular lecturing style. He has lectured both professionally and on a wide variety of cruise ships on many aspects of aviation.

Les started his career as a fighter pilot with the Royal Air Force, flying “Jump Jet” Harriers for over seven years. He instructed Harrier and Hunter pilots in the arts of combat and weapons delivery before graduating as a test pilot from the Empire Test Pilots School in 1985 (his course was filmed and made into a popular series by the BBC). He spent four very interesting years as a research test pilot with the Royal Aircraft Establishment (now QinetiQ) at Bedford and at Boscombe Down. During this time he helped develop fly-by-wire systems, advanced displays, and the use of night vision Goggles and infrared imaging systems.

On leaving the RAF Les joined British Airways as a Boeing 747 pilot, entering a low level management role for two years before becoming a training co-pilot. He flew Concorde for four years between 1999 and its end of service in 2003; he was privileged to fly the last commercial Concorde service from London to New York in October 2003. When Concorde was finally grounded he was promoted to training captain on the Boeing 757/767 fleet.

Les retired from British Airways in July 2006 and now runs a training and consultancy business specialising in aircraft and aero systems design, and test pilot training.