Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nick Pocock: 1934 - 2009

One of our finest friends who seemed to stand out among the rest was Nick Pocock. This past weekend Nick passed from this world and made his last flight into the west. Nick will be missed by many. He was a gentleman and enthusiastic lover of aviation and of life. His contribution to Aviation is noteworthy and so I want to share some of what I know about him here.

I first met Nick in the late 1970's as I tagged along with Dad to all of the regional antique airplane gatherings. His British style and demeanor along with a peculiar sense of humor was infectious. Nick not only befriended my dad, but also showed an interest in me as a young boy. I appreciated this about Nick and so I was drawn by his unique personality into a long and enjoyable friendship with him and his wife, Alvena.

Nick explained to me what an "aeroplane spotter" was. He himself was one of many air minded young boys in London England who kept notes on the crash sites and whereabouts of the remaining WWII aircraft along the English countryside during the late 1940's. Aeroplane Spotters could make money by divulging their notes and photographs to interested parties at the region's Aerodromes. Nick expressed some regret to me that he hadn't kept his notes in secret so that he could later retrieve some of these relics after finally having some money.

In his latter teenage years, Nick learned to fly in Tiger Moth biplanes through the Air Training Corps, and later joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve as a cadet pilot. A true flying fanatic, Nick followed his passion into competition and exhibition aerobatics and instruction. As Britain's best aerobatic pilot, Nick was the sole representative of the United Kingdom in the second World Aerobatic championships, Budapest, Hungary in 1962. It was during that event that Nick ran into another Central Texas aviator named Frank Price. The two formed a lasting friendship that led Nick to the United States. Frank got Nick started in the business of crop-dusting. And it wasn't long before he met a young-lady, Alvena, with whom he planted roots here in Central Texas.

1962 World Aerobatic Championships, Budapest Hungary

His aviation career included crop-spraying in Texas, Nicaragua, and Mississippi. Nick also flew part-time as an instructor, gliding, aerial photography, seaplanes, and skywriting. Nick wrote numerous magazine articles about aircraft and aviators. He also authored two books: Grumman/Schweizer AG-CAT and Did W.D. Custead Fly First? Nick also taught engineering drafting at Texas State Technical College for twenty years.

In 2004, Nick (along with another Central Texas Pilot - Joe Stahl) was presented with the distinguished Wright Brother's Master Pilot Award for his 50+ years of contribution to aviation.

Some of the airplanes Nick owned and/or restored over the years that I know of are...

Fairey Swordfish
1919 Farman Sport
Curtiss Robin Model B
Curtiss CW-1 Junior
Luscombe 8A
Stampe SV4C

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