Nostalgia Page 13A.
Viv Bellamy remembered.
Recollections of Viv Bellamy from J.B."Tommy" Thompson,John Rowe and others.

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The late Viv Bellamy was a well known figure in aviation in the south of England from the early fifties.He ran a flying school(The Hampshire Aeroplane Club) at Eastliegh and was also involved in rebuilding aircraft such as the Gloster Gladiator G-AMRK and the Supermarine S-6B.He later moved into the building of aircraft,starting with the unsuccessful Bellamy Hilbourne BH.1 Halcyon G-ARIO in 1960 and progressing to the building of flying replicas both at Eastliegh and later at Lands End/St Just.

Tommy Thompson and John Rowe have kindly sent the notes reproduced below which give a fascinating insight on the general aviation scene in England in the years before we were inundated with Cessnas and Pipers.

Tommy Thompson,.........

Viv Bellamy-------I met him when he was a Lt the Comms Flight at Yeovilton and about to be demobbed in June 1946 . He was glad to have rides in our Auster V TW516 and we arranged to meet later when he had set up a Eastleigh .

As it turned out I went to the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester from May 1947 - June 1948 and my flying mainly originated at Portsmouth Aero club with Tiger Moths (G- AIDA, G-AIDB,) , Auster J/1Ns(G-AJAS,G-AIJI) ,Miles Hawk Trainer G-AIDF, and Proctor 1 G-AIYH,G-AIEY (belonging to Vosper Ship yard) . Viv did give me a quick whizz round in Gemini 1 G-AIWS on 20/8/47.

In the summer of 1948 I spent a lot of time flying a very large farmer out of a very small strip at Denmead ,near Waterlooville, in his Auster V G-AIPE and setting up LEC Refrigeration with the first of their several aircraft at a strip planned along side their factory at Bognor Regis. It all came about when their Managing Director arrived at the Portsmouth Aero Club on a quiet afternoon and wanted advice on setting up an aircraft operation and Harry Mitchell asked me to fly him over and have a look at the possible fields. He bought an Auster Autocrat J/1 G-AHSI and over the years also had a Miles Messenger 2A G-AKDF, Dove(which one?), C-172 G-AWCN,Islander G-BLEC,Aztec 250 G-BCRP.

Viv used to civilianise Walrus amphibians at Eastleigh and land in Southampton Water as part of the test flight.Around 1948/49 he had a gentleman from Tangier who was anxious to purchase a Walrus a.s.a.p. and Viv flew it out to Gibraltar for him to meet his schedule.

Apparently the paper work took some time to clear and he left Gib at last light for the short hop over to Tangier. It was dark by the time he had landed and found a channel to taxi up to get towards the town and there was a strong smell that got worse as he taxied along. He had unfortunately chosen to taxi up the main sewer but at least he had arrived on time .

He demonstrated the machine further with a 1000 mile flight on down to Timbuktu in Mali in the southern Sahara where there are a number of lakes and the Niger River. Viv showed me a photo of the aircraft parked near the city walls and I learned from a stamp in his passport that the place was actually called TOMBOCTOU.

On 22nd December 1948 he asked me to deliver an Anson 1 (G-AJCT) which he Had sold to someone at Croydon . The escape hatch over the pilots head started to come loose and my passenger had to hang grimly on to it most of the way up and it was very cold .

In July 49 Viv kindly lent me Puss Moth G-AAZP and his engineer George Wilks to fly up to the National Air Races at Elmdon. A friend ,Chris de Vere, had asked me to fly him in his Hawk Trainer G-AKMU in the heats of the Kings Cup Air Race but unfortunately the opposition was too good and we came in 10th.

The Zaunkonig G-ALUA I flew down at Christchurch on 3rd September. As I recall it travelled round the country under the auspices of the Light Aircraft Association (?) and you could fly it for £1 an hour. I have followed up the careers of the remaining machines in Germany (to which G-ALUA returned from a long sojourn in Ireland and have a good photo of D-EBCO and D-EBCG in a hangar.

In December Viv flew me down to Exeter and I flew him back in Leopard Moth G-ACRW. More interestingly he flew me back to Eastleigh in his DH90A Dragonfly G-AEWZ on Feb 2nd 1950 after I had delivered his DH89A Dragon Rapide G-AKNF to Hants and Sussex Aviation. Then we continued in the Dragonfly with 3 others to Kemble to pick up 2 Rapides (G-ALWL + ?) to bring back to Eastleigh.

On may 24th we commuted over to Cowes in DH80A Puss Moth G-AAZP.Later that year on 18th November,I flew the Hornet G-AEZG to Cardiff with a gentleman from Vernons football pools carrying two cases of coupons. Viv had a contract to do this run. A few days later we had been to Thruxton in the Hornet and had to get a second passenger on board and being the lightest I had to get up on the luggage rack for the short run back to Eastleigh.

In April 1951 he had a contract to fly for the Army searchlights all over north Hampshire and I was signed on to do all the navigation for him and Tony Leeming.

Finally in May 1952 I went with him on a most unpleasant day to Cherbourg in Rapide G-AHGF to pick up a passenger and after that my activities were concentrated at Portsmouth until I joined the Flight Test department at Hatfield in the summer of 1967 as Ops Officer on 125s.

We did meet again on various occasions before Viv moved down to Lands End as I had arranged his Loss of Licence Insurance.Our last meeting was in 1984 when I was at Farnborough Air Show and several beers went down with him very rapidly with his inimitable stories and laugh.


John Rowe.

After I left school I worked for the Hampshire Aeroplane Club at Eastleigh airport from October 1953 until January 1955 when I joined the RAF.

During this time ownership of the aeroplane club passed to Vivian Bellamy and he became my employer (so he was Mr Bellamy to me), although I had been 'seconded' to do odd jobs for him almost from the start of my time with the HAC.

On one occasion I repaired a puncture in one of the tyres from his very ancient Rolls Royce – and what a job that was for a seventeen year old who'd only repaired punctures in bicycle tyres up to then. Then on another occasion I accompanied him in his brand new VW Beetle when he drove to RAF Wroughton to pick up some spares from a damaged Proctor aircraft. His comment when we returned to the airport after the trip was “that's another journey nearer it's last”. This comment seemed to me to typify his attitude to life – and the same was true of the other ex-service pilots who flew at the airport at that time.

He impressed me by his sophistication when he ordered Tia Maria from the club bar one evening – I flew to Jersey shortly afterwards with Johnny Challis (in his 'Flying Pig', it's correct name was Miles Aerovan) and with alcoholic drinks being cheaper there I was able to sample my first Tia Maria!

Together with Dave Harris, my fellow mechanic, we would occasionally act as tail ballast when Mr Bellamy test flew his modified Dragon Rapides (his company, 'Flightways', used to replace the Gypsy Queen engines with a more powerful version fitted with constant speed propellers together with other modifications). On one test flight, and during very heavy rain, we flew low over Pirelli-General Cable Works in Eastleigh and were able to look up to Pirelli's chimney! He was reputed to have looped a Rapide at some time and I certainly believed him capable of it.

Those were the days when many small aircraft engines had to be started by swinging the propeller which wasn't too difficult on a four cylinder Gypsy Major or Cirrus Minor engine – but a Gypsy Queen six cylinder engine was something that no one I knew would attempt – except Vivian Bellamy. I believe that the aircraft, which I'm almost certain was a Rapide, had a flat battery and was needed urgently. So while we lessor mortals stood around scratching our heads and wondering what was to be done he got someone to sit in the cockpit and operate the switches and then took a running jump at the propeller, grabbed it with both hands, and swung it while he was in mid air. I'll never know how he managed to stop before crashing into the fuselage – or being caught up by the propeller, I was so impressed! I'm not sure if he wore gloves or, as was more likely, just wrapped a cloth around his hands for protection. The engine, I'm pleased to report, started at the first swing – it wouldn't have dared not to!

What, I wonder, would 'elf n safety' make of it today?

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