Having lived and worked in administration at a secondary school in Bristol for many years, Mary has seen and heard aeroplanes fly over the city, as both Filton airfield and Bristol Airport are nearby.
Mary’s husband, Ian, obtained his flying licence in 1995 and they started flying together using a rented Cessna 152 from the nearby Bristol Flying Centre. This was proving rather expensive but a friend at Truro airfield told them about the LAA and how you can maintain your own aircraft, under the supervision an inspector, within the Association’s Permit to Fly system. This sounded like it could suit their lifestyle and budget.
They visited nearby Garston Farm airstrip where a number of LAA aircraft are based and, liking what they saw, were soon sharing the use of a Jodel, and later a Stinson, before buying a half share in their own aeroplane in 2000. This was a Binder SMARGD, which is a German variant of the French Emeraude, a two seat, all wood tailwheel design. They enjoyed many trips together in the aircraft, including visits to the Scilly Isles, Jersey, St. Omar in France, and many airfields around the UK.
Sadly Ian passed away in 2009, and Mary, by then in her late 50’s, decided to take over Ian’s share in the aircraft and continue to fly. After a couple of years flying as a passenger, she decided to learn to fly herself. In 2011 she went to Hinton-in-the-Hedges airfield and learnt to fly in only eight weeks. She says of the experience “If others can learn to fly, why shouldn’t I? I decided to give it a go and have never looked back; I really enjoy it, and am very pleased that I carried on my involvement with aviation”.¬†
With her co-owner, they visit fly-ins and rallies around the UK, and have been to a number of annual events near Paris in France, which celebrates the life of their aircraft’s designer, Claude Piel.
In the winter of 2014, Mary and her co-owner decided their now 50 year old aeroplane needed re-covering, work they had carried out professionally at Husbands Bosworth. It is now back in the air looking very smart in its new fabric and paintwork.¬†
Mary is now retired but helps back at her old school with exam invigilating when required. She is also kept busy as the Secretary and Newsletter Editor of the locally based Bristol LAA Strut.