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How do you become an instructor on the world’s only Spitfire fighter aircraft training school?
By Paul Jansen
Sam Whatmough’s second job leaves other pilots drooling with envy.
When not flying the latest airliners, he is an instructor at the Boultbee Flight Academy, the world’s only school for Spitfire pilots. He introduced Merawan.com founder Paul Jansen to the Boultbee Flight Academy’s Tiger Moth and Harvard aircraft, which concluded with Paul’s flying the Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX.
Sam Whatmough is a professional pilot with British Airways (BA) and flies Boeing 777 aircraft, a wide-body twin jet. He is currently Assistant Flight Training Manager 787, with the responsibility of ensuring BA pilots get the right training to fly the B777 and the B787 Dreamliner.
He has clocked 9,500 total hours. His experience with historic aircraft includes about 300 hours on the Harvard and he has participated in over 50 air displays. Whatmough’s association with vintage planes stems from a longtime desire to fly the iconic Spitfire fighter aircraft.
This is his story.
“I got into this kind of flying, having at the age of 15 set my heart on flying a Spitfire. I decided that for anyone to be crazy enough to lend you one then you needed to be good at four things: Tail wheel, aerobatics, formation flying and being lucky!
“When I could afford it, I bought a share in a Yak 52 and got heavily into aerobatic competitions, formation flying and displaying at air shows. I eventually upgraded to a Yak 55, which is a pussycat, but people believed it was a tough tail wheel aircraft and so I got a reputation for being good at tail wheel.
“On the back of that, I was offered a job as a flying instructor for a company that had a Tiger Moth, Cap 10 and Harvard, providing that I went and got my flying instructor rating. With an offer like that what could you do? So I did get it – in a record 3 weeks! Very soon after that I was off instructing on all these amazing types, and a year later they made me Chief Flying Instructor.
“I’ve been freelance flying instructing, mostly teaching aerobatics, formation and tail wheel, for four years now and have been extremely privileged to have been asked to fly quite a lot of historic types. I was invited to instruct on the Harvard for Goodwood Aero Club, during which time Boultbee Flight Academy moved to Goodwood and very kindly asked if I would instruct for them too.
“I nearly bit their hand off! Great people, incredible aeroplanes and every time you get to meet the most amazing people that are there for the same reasons we are – we love flying and adore the Spitfire.”
(Editor’s note: The Yak 52 is a two-seat military primary trainer, used by the former Soviet air force, while the Yak 55, which debuted in 1981, is a single-seat aircraft dedicated to aerobatics. The Cap 10 is a French two-seat aerobatic trainer introduced in 1970. And the Harvard, also known as the T6 Texan, is a World War II advanced trainer, which the Allied Forces used to teach their pilots combat skills before moving them up to the powerful frontline Spitfire fighter aircraft.)