Brian Corbin: RIP

John Tompkins has passed on the sad news that Brian Corbin died at Wexham Park hospital on Monday 30th January.  His daughter Kate Solomon was with him, and we also have a request from her.

This is probably the best photograph we have of Brian, at the West London Aero Club in 2012 with Adrian Workman, Graham Bridges and Geoff Milsom.


AW05 West London Aero Club monthly gathering













In their own words: John Tompkins

“This is a general message, so some of you already have heard, but here is
some sad news.Brian died at Wexham Park hospital on Monday Jan 30th his
daughter Kate was with him.
Via Graham Bridges and Geoff Milsom I have some information about the
funeral etc.
The service will be a non religious one to be held at Amersham
Crematorium (In a small private room) at 12.15 on Tuesday Feb 28th. There
will be a burial at Braywick Cemetery, followed by a wake at White Waltham
Flying Club where he and other ‘Faireys’ met monthly.
If you would like to attend the WWFC gathering please let me know in advance
so that I can inform Kate how many to cater for.”

Kate Solomon:

“I know how much the monthly visits to White Waltham meant to my dad and I believe you make many of the social arrangements for the Fairey Group.

Could I trouble you to advise the group of the sad loss of my dad and that the arrangements for his funeral on Tuesday 28th February are as follows:

Celebration Service at 12:15 at the Chilterns Chapel, Whielden Lane, Amersham HP7 OND

Braywick Cemetery, Braywick Road, Maidenhead SL6 1DJ for 2pm.

Back to White Waltham for a buffet etc.

It would be lovely for me to meet some of my Dad’s friends and to hear about his time at Fairey and Clyde Surveys, particularly as this is such a sad time. I know it is difficult but if you could gauge numbers that would be attending that would be great. Waltham have told me they can only cater for 50 and I haven’t a clue how many we should expect.

We have decided on a celebrant to take the service at the Chilterns as dad was not religious.  If at your gathering this weekend you have any amusing stories that we could use, I would be very grateful.”

Please let John Tompkins know if you would like to attend the wake at White Waltham, so they can cater for everyone. If you have a story or anecdote that you would like to share, but can’t attend the funeral or the wake, again please contact John, or post a comment here to share it with everyone.  If you don’t have John’s contact details, email and we’ll pass on the information.


Milestone celebration for Geoff Milsom

A little ceremony was held at White Waltham on Saturday 14th January 2017, to celebrate Geoffrey Milsom’s 70 years as a member of the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators, (GAPAN).

A cake was supplied by Don Green and Bob Berriss, others in attendance were
Don Green, Bob Berriss, John and Carol Tompkins, Laurence Scott, Jean and
Ken Fostekew, two members of the Aero Club and Geoffrey of course.

Geoff Milsom cutting the cake, with l-r: Lawrence Scott, Jean Fostekew and Carol Tompkins








With thanks to Ken Fostekew for the information and the photographs – click on the photographs to enlarge.

Fairey gatherings

With thanks to Ken Fostekew for the contribution:

The FSL reunion held at W/W Cricket Club 10th July was a
great success. Many thanks to John and Carol Tompkins for the hard work that
they put to make another memorable evening.

A gathering of a few FSL/Fairey Aviation Folk at White Waltham on Saturday
11th July for the scattering of ashes of the late Ron Neal. Ron’s widow
Sylvia travelled from her home at Lydd and the ceremony took place around
the ATA memorial behind the West London Aero Club.
Ron, was of course an ATC Cadet attached to ATA and accrued many flying
hours as pilots assistant with all the well known pilots of the day. As an
added bonus the Battle of Britain Memorial Spitfires and Hurricanes were
still at White Waltham after their display over London the day before and on
their departure two Hurricanes and one Spitfire did a low level flypast. Ron
would have loved it.

In attendance were…Geoff Milsom, Bob Berris, Don Green, Mr and Mrs Paul
Singleton, Derek Minter, Tony Bamford, John Tompkins, Ken and Jean Fostekew
and of course Mrs Sylvia Neal.

Pension issues: FSL, Clyde & Engineering Surveys

There have been some reported issues with the FSL/Clyde/Engineering Surveys pension.  If you have one of the pensions, and have any concerns, could you look at the notes attached – passed from Peter Timbrell to John Tompkins.

PT pension notes

If you are coming to the Fairey Surveys re-union on 10th July at White Waltham Cricket Club, would you consider bringing with you copies of your pension paperwork, and any letters you have received, so that those affected can compare notes and discuss options available.





Alex Copeland

It is with great sadness that we have to announce that Alex Copeland passed away on 16th April 2015.  He had lived for over 30 years in Adelaide, South Australia, running the ground geophysical survey company Search Exploration Services with his partner Gerry Bown.  His funeral and the gathering afterwards were held in Carrickalunga, about 100 km south of Adelaide.  It is here that Alex and Gerry have their beloved beachside ‘shack’, and where the Union Jack flies every day except Anzac Day and Australia Day.











Alex started at Fairey Surveys as a draughtsman, but over the years became involved with airborne and ground geophysics, working all over the world.  He was always cheerful, always helpful and very hardworking.  Alex lived life to the full, and made lasting friends wherever he was – things were definitely not boring when he was around.

One of Alex’s old friends, Kim Frankcombe, was at the funeral and the wake, and has sent the obituary, and a copy of the memorial service booklet, which are attached, and some personal notes from the day:-

“The funeral and wake went well with a lot of old familiar faces there, both from my geophysics and rugby past. The church held 80 and both Alex and Gerry had wanted a quiet affair but it was standing room only. The public event at the British Hotel later that night had even more people.

With a large rugby crowd there was plenty of support for the two hymns, the Welsh and English rugby teams’ hymns. Apparently they were a late change as Alex had originally wanted “Always look on the bright side of life” which would also have been very appropriate.

In Nick Sheard’s Eulogy he told the story of bailing Alex out of the Cobar police station after he was caught drink driving after he and Nick had spent three hours with an Eski of beer watching a mechanic weld up his old Hilux. He decided to give the arresting officer the benefit of his thoughts which resulted in him being held for the night. He claims to have spent the night dragging a tin mug across the bars of his cell to let them know he was still there.

There was also plenty of support for Alex being a scary driver from all those who he’d taken for a ride in his E-Type which is now in SA with Gerry.”

Memorial booklet:  AC_Memorial                     Click on the title to open the file (if it displays sideways, download and open with Adobe Reader, then click on View, Rotate)

Obituary:               AlexCopeland_Obit            Click on the title to open the file

Many of Alex’s friends and old colleagues will have their own stories about him (and possibly his cars!) – please send them in on the Comments page, or by email to


Ron Neal

New has come in from Ken Fostekew that Ron Neal has passed away.  Ron was one of Fairey Surveys’ well known and loved pilots.  More details will be posted when they arrive.

The Crew

Ron is fourth from the left in this photograph from Len Sellwood of the crew from a Nigeria survey in 1974

Request for photos or memories of John Owen Penrose (Pen)

An email has been received from Mrs Sarah Paddison, the daughter of John Owen Penrose (Pen) a former pilot for Fairey Surveys, until the late 1960s or early 1970s:


I would be very grateful to know if anyone has any memories or photographs of my father John Owen Penrose (Pen).  I recently made my first trip back to White Waltham aerodrome but could not find anything other than the company logo in the Flying club bar.
My first memories of the airfield are getting up early, walking across the road from our house to pick mushrooms with Dad, for breakfast.
Any information would be much appreciated, thank you


If anyone has any information or photographs to share, please leave a comment, and we’ll pass on your details to Mrs Paddison.

Wild A8 Stereoplotter – in use

This request is from a photographer who wants to find a Wild A8 Stereoplotter in use:

I’m a french artist and I work actually on the history of aerial photography.
I research a “Wild A8 Stereo plotter” and I would to know where I can find a “Wild A8 Stereo plotter” operating. I would like to make print with this.

Thank you,

David De Beyter

If you have any information that might be useful, please contact Mr De Beyter direct.  If you think someone else might have useful information, please use the Contact form to let us know.

Aerial photography in Jamaica 1979/80

We have a request for information from the National Land Agency in Jamaica, asking for information on the aerial photography taken by Fairey Surveys in Jamaica in 1979/80:

Good day,
I was directed to your office having tried both the UK Ordinance Survey  and the Bodleian Library of Commonwealth & African Studies at Rhodes House without the required success.  I write therefore, requesting your assistance in providing a copy of the camera report for camera/cameras that were used by Fairey Surveys when they flew aerial photographs at a scale of 1/50,000 for the then Survey Department of Jamaica between December 1979 to February 1980. The reports are needed to help inform the standards on aerial photography for a new project presently underway dealing with land cover change detection in which the aerials which were taken during the aforementioned period are being used.

The UK Ordinance Survey, through whom the job may have been contracted to BKS Surveys (who inturn subcontracted to your company), indicated that they no longer keep those records. Seeing that your company did flights on the project it is our hope that you would still have some of the information among your records.

Please indicate whether you are able to assist with the provision of same. The cameras used were RC8, Len 15 UAG356, P.D. 152.46. Any help provided would be greatly appreciated.

Milton Saunders
Manager, Mapping Services
National Land Agency
23 1/2 Charles Street
Kingston, Jamaica.

If you have any information that might be useful, please contact Mr Saunders direct.  If you think someone else might have useful information, please use the Contact form to let us know.

Fairey Surveys pension plan

However long ago you worked for Fairey Surveys, if you paid into their pension scheme you may well be eligible for a pension, even if it’s tiny.  If you think you may be eligible, or have forgotten whether you contributed or not, you can get in touch with the pension administrators, contact details below:

The Pearson Group Pension Plan
Pearson Services Ltd
80 Strand
Telephone: +44 20 7010 2424