Nigel Hitchman – Roving Reporter -UK

Nigel Hitchman Piper Cub

I grew up in Farnborough, Hampshire, England, home of the major airshow. My earliest memory was of a formation of de Havilland Sea Vixens doing aerobatics in 1968. By the 1976 airshow, as a 14-year-old plastic model building kid on summer holidays, I was down at the fence every day for the arrivals and practice. People kept asking me what each aircraft was, so I started noting the registrations to tell them, which started a long interest as an ‘aircraft spotter’ and later, becoming a photographer – continuing to this day.

We soon started going further afield to airshows and fly-ins including Europe, and then in 1984 with my best mate, Paul Kiddell, we did our first trip to Oshkosh. This was a real eye-opener, with so many friendly people, and flights offered. We went to Oshkosh for warbirds but were amazed by the antiques and Classics. We found out about the following Blakesburg fly-in, so loads more rides, and met many more lifelong friends.

For 1985’s Oshkosh I stayed with (the late) Pete Heins in Dayton, and had a flying lesson with a friend of his. When I met Pete again at Oshkosh he presented me with ‘my’ logbook with my first lesson signed off, so no stopping now!

I was seconded from British Aerospace Design Office to Airbus in Toulouse, France in 1987 – a fantastic opportunity. I stayed for 9 years traveling all over the world to Airbus customers, and of course, visited local aviation museums and airfields. Flying was cheaper in France, so I did a lot more, visiting many places and fly-ins, including an annual trip back to the U.K. for the PFA Rally.

In 1995 I moved back to the U.K. and took my ATPL (airline transport pilot license). I first flew the ATR, ending up on the British Airways Boeing 777; another great way to visit museums and fly-ins around the world! I took early retirement in 2000 and am now free to travel to many fly-ins and also fly my own Piper J3 and Vans RV6.

I started writing about fly-ins to go with my pictures back in the 1990s, mostly for Popular Flying magazine (now Light Aviation). I edited a column on new U.K. homebuilt projects and restorations, and still regularly contribute, I’m also a long-time regular contributor to the ‘Old Timers’ section in the UK’s Pilot Magazine as well as supplying photos to other magazines when asked.