Terry Aspinall

Terry First got in to Hang Gliding in 1973 after meeting up with David Cook and joined the Norfolk Hang Gliding club around 1976issh

He was News letter editor for about a year, and a major pioneer of some of the sites in east Anglia.
Because there were quite few members that lived in the south of the region, a new club,Suffolk Coastal Floaters was formed in 1979. Terry was a major influence in its creation.

More info on terry and stories told can be found here.

  • Piccy of you

I was born on the 14th June 1943, and I’m told by my Mother that it also snowed the very same day. Maybe somebody was trying to tell me that my life was not destined to run smoothly and that a few surprises or rude awakenings waited in the wings to spring out at me when ever I turned a corner.

where were you born ?
I was born at the “Common” (no, not on the Common) Little Blakenham Nr Ipswich in Suffolk England. At the time my Mother was living with her sister, while her husband was over sea’s helping build a railway for the Japanese in Burma, and my Father was doing his bit to help chase Rommel out of North Africa. However, within a couple of months we moved in with my Mothers family in Stowmarket and ever since I have always considered my self to be a Stowmarket person through and through.

Where do you live know?
My day time job took me and my family to New Zealand where we spent three great years. However, the wander bug in my blood soon had me on the move again and I crossed the Tasman Sea where I finally settled down in the beautiful city of Brisbane Queensland Australia. We have a saying here that it’s “Beautiful One Day and Perfect the Next” and that just about sums the place up. If I was ever to move again it would only be within this South Eastern corner of Queensland.

I’m an Electrician by trade. But unofficially I’m a Jack of all trades master of none

Previous Occupation ?
I have undertaken several different jobs during my working life. At one time while working for the construction company French/Kier, I was Foreman on the Ipswich-Stowmarket bypass that was constructed in the early to middle 70’s. I also helped build the Wickham Market bypass. At one time I was helping to construct the so called “Nuclear Bomb Proof Shelters” on several of the British and American Air bases through out East Anglia. While later I went back to these same shelters as an electrician and helped wire them out. Nothing like keeping it in the family as they say, although I have to add that it was a time in my life when I was chasing the so called big money, funny I can remember what I did with it all.
I ended up working for Bernard Matthews as a maintenance Electrician at their Halesworth plant. Later I went to New Zealand for Bernard Matthews to help construct a factory along the lines of the Haleworth plant. Once completed, I had to train a 28 man maintenance crew. I fell in love with that part of the world, and decided not to return home to the UK. Instead a company in Australia known as “Lindgrens” who imported the very same German machinery we used in the New Zealand factory, got to hear I had itchy feet and that I was looking for a move. Anyway one of the company directors turned up in New Zealand with an air ticket and I flew back to Australia with him, leaving my family in New Zealand. I have to add that at that time I was working on machinery that the Australians and Kiwis did not know much about, and so I could name my own price. To give you a little idea, when I arrived in New Zealand in my passport was a letter from the government saying that this man has skills not yet obtainable in New Zealand, the only thing missing was the red carpet. In case you are wondering I did go back to New Zealand six months later to pick up my family. I now have 3 passports UK, NZ, and an Aussie one that I treasure.

When and where did you start flying ?
Well I first tried to fly out of my back garden, but it did not take me long to work out that it was not going to happen. You have to realise that at that time there were no books and leaflets on the subject, it was all word of mouth stuff in those days. Unfortunately I’d picked up my very first Hang Glider from Ken Messengers Birdman factory in Marlbough Wiltshire. Sadly that very same day a competition was being held down the road at Mere and nobody seemed to have much time for me, once I’d handed over my money. Ken spent about ten minutes running over how to rig it up and what to do when I try and fly it. Don’t know if you have ever tried to remember every single word a guy tells you a couple of days later when you try to put it all in to practice. I think the only thing I remembered was that it was called an Albatross 180.
I was very lucky and stumbled on to David Cook, who introduced me to the delights of Sizewell’s 20 foot high cliff, and all of four hundred meters long. That would be either later 1973 or early 1974, even I’m having problems trying to remember. However, David was a three axis man and the controls work in the opposite direction to a weight shift machine. At first I found it hard to work out what he was talking about and doing. However, to prove a point, one day at Reydon nr Ipswich David tried a top to bottom on a home built weight shift Hang Glider. I believe it was a McBroom machine, and we called it a McBrick because of its 1/1 LD, anyway David got his controls mixed up and ended up with a broken arm.

(if) Why did you stop ?
That’s an easy one; I simply strapped an engine on to my Solar Wings Cherokee Hang Glider. After many many hours of help from Ray Watering, Mick Starling and David Cook, I eventually built my own trike, powered by a 160cc Velmet engine. Sadly for Hang Gliding, I never looked back my interests where else where. We used to say to each other, because we live in the flat lands, lets use an engine to get us up in to the air and then we can switch off and glide around all day. May be occasionally we could even undertake a cross country. Which was all very well until we finally got up there? What the hell who wants to switch off, and so we didn’t.

Which Pilots most influenced you?
This one is a little more complicated, because when I picked up my Birdman Albatross and carried on to the Mere Hang Gliding competition in 1974, you would have to had been an idiot not to notice the brilliant flying of the American Bob Wills flying the famous black sail colored “Wills Swallowtail” Hang Glider. In those days there were only 2 official competitions. One could fly the furthest distance from the hill, and two who could land nearest a cross placed on the ground at the bottom of the take off hill or slope, Oh and there was an unofficial one, of who could stay in the air the longest, but that’s another story. Bob Wills was very impressive with his all round flying. Then during a spot landing competition and on his third attempt to score maximum points at landing on the spot, Bob did just that. Only to be marked down by one of the judges Nick Regan. In frustration Bob went after Nick and demanded to know what the hell he had to do to score maximum points. To which Nick told him that every time he landed he straddle the cross, so in actual fact he had not landed on the cross. Nick went on to tell him that he had to land on the centre of the cross. Bob Wills stormed up the hill for another attempt and took off. This time he landed on one foot directly in the middle of the cross and won the competition. I might also add that there were not many of the British flyers getting anywhere near the centre of the cross in those days. I might also add that Bob Wills was the guy who did most of the flying in the American film “Sky Riders”
On a local level David Cook has been a great influence on my life and still is to this day. It was David determination to win what ever the odds that also rubbed of on me, as it does today. The attitude of if it seems impossible then its worth having ago because others pass it by. And who knows you might just succeed and in doing it, surprising those who thought it impossible. Of course you have to have a certain amount of luck and I would not like to count how many of my nine lives I have left to play around with.
As a local flying weight shift Hang Gliders the greatest influence on my flying has got to be Paul Whitley. Paul was an amazing flyer who pioneered several of the early sites in Norfolk. He was the guy who turned up had a couple of great flights and went home having enjoyed a great days flying. For Paul there were no trumpets to be sounded just the enjoyment of local flying. With out his early flying many of the sites he pioneered would not have been flown as early as they were. I also believe that if Paul had entered some of the big competitions of the day he would have been a house hold name in the sport, and not just in East Anglia. Paul has to be followed by Graham Drinkall from Colchester, I always believed that Graham was a Paul clone, but then that’s just as I saw it.
On a national level in those early years Brian Woods stood out from the crowd and won several of the early Mere competitions. Then suddenly after just a couple of years leading the field he moved to Holland and we lost him to the sport. His position of being the man to beat was quickly taken up by Bob Calvert. Bob took the sport a little further and to greater heights. I spent many hours watching his every move, but to no avail. However, I’m sure he certainly influenced many other flyer's as they all used his tactics to try and dethrone him, unsuccessfully I might add for several years. On a personal level I spent many hours with Chris Johnson and he was just like Paul Whitley out for a great days flying and no bragging. Chris was one of those guys who silently took the envelope to its extreme. While others copied him and took the credit, but it never seemed to ruffle his feathers. (That’s a joke) He just moved onto the next challenge. I believe Chris was the first guy to do Maple Leaf, and I saw him do it at Rhossilly in Southern Wales. (Hope that’s how you spell it).

Gliders you have flown ?
I’ve always been a Birdman and then Solar Wings man, don’t know why, but for some reason I stuck loyal to one brand, as a lot of people did in the early days. I started with the Albatross 180, then on to the Moonraker (which gave me the Suffolk Coastal Floaters clubs name), then the Moonraker78 (that was a bit skatey) on to the Cherokee, couple of others in there some where but can’t seem to remember at the moment. I was also lucky to try other people’s gliders. Like Chris Tansleys Mc Brick, you can guess why it had that name because it simply just dropped out of the sky. It was originally built by Brian Griffiths of Ipswich. David Cook always taunted him the sail was made from one of his wife’s table cloths. At a fly in at Dunstable one of the local club safety officers had to check it out before Chris was allowed to fly. Giving him a clean bill of health and remarking that it had at least another 2 hours flying time left in it.

Where have you flown in the UK ?
With out listing them all I think I can say that I’ve flown many of the major sites as other members of the early Suffolk Club will testify. Most and I do mean most weekends would see Alan Snowy Snowlin, Mel Mayes, John Sharpe, myself and occasional David Taylor from Ipswich, driving halfway across the country searching for the right wind. There can’t be many sites we did not visit although some we did not fly because while in transit the westerly winds would swing completely around and then be coming from the east. Which is exactly what happened to us one weekend when we all hiked off to the West Country? Then with bitter disappointment we all drove home. After a couple of stops and looking at the wind direction we all made for Felixstowe and arrived a couple of hours before dark. To be confronted by almost perfect conditions. With out hesitation we all rigged up and that day we all became the first time flyers of the site. In fact not wanting to land we flew well into the dark until it became dangerous as the lift band started to shrink and a couple of us almost touched wing tips. Mind you it was the street lighting that helped us, and you knew somebody was near as the light seemed to go out for a couple of seconds.

When and where was your most memorable flying experience in the UK ?
This has to be the very first time I conquered Sizewell, Wow what a day that was. To be fair, credit has to also go to Snowy as we had spent many hours sussing out the site with top to bottoms and in some instances hovering for a few second on the cliff edge. One afternoon Snowy rang me to ask what the wind was doing. I told him that when the sea breeze come through I believed that Sizwell just might be right for its first soaring flight by a weight shift, I say that because David Cook had been flying his fixed wing VJ23 there for some time. Mind you it had an L/D three times greater than my Cherokee. Snowy arranged to meet me on the cliff. However, when I arrived it looked so good and not wanting to miss the opportunity I decided to set my glider up ready. Thinking that I might miss out on what I considered to be almost perfect conditions I strapped in and walked the glider to the cliff edge. Just then Snowy turned up and grabbed the nose and with our customary “Let her go” I went straight up to about 30 foot above the cliff edge. WOW what a sensation to be soaring a 30 foot a sand dune. I’d only been in the air for about 10 minutes when Snowy joined me. It was amazing and we even had room to pass without problems. We both stayed up till it was almost dark. The Avatar I use on the Norfolk and Suffolk web site Forums was taken by Snowy just before he launched. That would have to be my favorite Hang Gliding photo. I think another reason why it was special is because when I bought my first Hang Glider that was the cliff I had learnt to fly on and I had dream of soaring that place for several years before it finally happened. My wife always tells me that in my dreams I planned that flight every single night from the first day we first went to Sizewell till the day it actually happened. At least now I could move on and talk about something different. So that’s what she meant when I kept shouting “Push Out” in my sleep

When and where was your most Horrid flight in the UK ?
This has to be Cromer. Snowy and I arrived first and I must admit that the wind felt quite strong but neither of us owned a wind speed meter, so we were not sure of the strength. I believed it to be marginal, but flyable. While Snowy was a little more hesitant. Anyway I was strapped in and Snowy was on the nose having one hell of a job trying to keep it under control on the edge of the cliff. When Mel Mayes turned up. “What’s it doing” he shouted meaning what strength is the wind. I believe I replied that I thought it was about 25mph. “Bar” he said “Its only about 18mph”. I turned and looked back at Snowy just said “Let her go”. With that I shot up like a bullet out of a gun, while all the time I was going backwards. I later learnt the Mel was only kidding and had thought the wind to strong to fly. Fat lot of good that was doing me, as by now, and practiced in those days, in order to get the nose down I was working my hands up the front wires from the A frame, trying to get the nose down. I think with this wonderful word hindsight I should have just let it go and gone as high as I could and then turned inland gone with it. However at that time cross country flights were not common in this part of the world and I don’t believe anybody had done it at Cromer, because we all knew there was a bad rotor at the back of the take off area, and by now I was now in that area.. Then all of a sudden a gust of wind tore the wires from my hands (I now know I should not have been trying to pull the wires down) and the glider swung round 360 degrees and when I looked down I was still facing the sea and level, but I was looking down onto some golfers. I knew I was in trouble because we were only allowed to fly Cromer on the condition that we did not interfere with the golfers and I was heading for a group of them below me. I can remember shouting at them to get out of the way. Suddenly I was whipped around for a second time, but for some reason I was still level. Then it was as if a giant hand just pushed me straight into the ground, although still level. I smashed into ground with a deafening thud about halfway down the track towards the road, and my chest hit the bottom of the A frame. Couldn’t believe that I climbed out unhurt and with no damage to the Glider. Until Snowy cracked a joke and I tried to laugh. Boy was my ribs starting to hurt. Anyway to cut a long story short. In those days some hospitals had this thing about helping people who were involved in Hang Glider accidents. On my way home I had to divert to a hospital and I told the nurse that I’d hit the steering wheel while doing an emergency stop. By that time the whole of my left side rib cages was the blackest black you have ever seem. Apparently I broke several ribs and could not lie in my harness for a couple of weeks. Although when I did I padded it out with foam, there was no way I was being kept out of the air.

Where have you flown OUT of the UK ?
A small group from the Suffolk Coastal Floaters Hang Gliding Club visited a club in Waterford Southern Ireland that was arranged by John Sharpe who had connection over there, and a great time was had by all.

Where and when was you most memorable flying experiance outside the UK ?
Southern Ireland. Can’t remember the site but the locals took us to a sand dune area and asked us to demonstrate how we fly sand dunes in East Anglia, and we blew them away as we demonstrated how we could hover our gliders above the take off points. I might add that I also crashed John Sharpes Glider when I attempted one flight to many as the wind was going off to the left., but I walked away un-scathed, which is more that could be said for Johns beloved glider. Don’t know how many lives I’m down to now.

When and where was your most Horrid flight outside UK ?
Flying from Melbourne to Brisbane on a Quanta’s Jumbo Jet and the Air hostess sad beside me for the whole trip (3 hours), clutching my hand. I wouldn’t have minded but they didn’t even serve a meal, mate that’s rough. Don’t know who was more scared me or the hostess.
Or the time when the Suffolk Coastal Floaters Hang Gliding Club went to Ireland. The whole event was sponsored by the local Murphy’s Brewery. After the competition all flyers and their friends were invited back to the Brewery in Waterford. Where we were treated to big booze up all paid for by the brewery. Several of us awoke the following morning under a monster of a highly polished boardroom table in several states of undress. We later learnt r that the Brewery and allotted 17 pints of beer per person, but had to up the quota halfway through the night. I might add that a Murphy’s pint looked and tasted exactly like a pint of Guinness. Needles to say the following day not many of the Suffolk contingent felt like flying and was saved from further embarrassment when the day was blown out. When a pint of Murphy’s was poured it looked like treacle or at least that’s how I remember it.

Time to brag ?, What was your "finest hour" ?
Unfortunately it’s nothing to do with Hang Gliding, but still worth a mention as it’s to do with powered Hang Gliders. I went to one of the early Microlight flyin’s that was held at Woburn Abbey. There were eight prizes on offer and I won six of them and David Cook picked up the other two. That put Suffolk on the map and made us a force to be reckoned with. The prizes were quite good being cash and I was also presented with a large Wedgwood plate with Woburn abbey on it that still hangs on my wall to this day.

Who do you most admire in the sport ?
Those people behind the scenes who help keep the clubs and the sport alive and kicking for others to enjoy. Especially the partners and people who do not fly. I’ve often wondered what it would be like if it was compulsory for all flyers to take part in one way or another.

What Trait do you most deplore in yourself ?
I talk too much, I’m the guy who receives a two sentence E-mail from my friends and they get two pages reply back. There are many times when I wished that I’d paid more attention while at school. Like I’ve mentioned before when I left school I could hardly read or write. I’ve had to teach my self since the late 80’s. Oh to be edumacated, and be able to pronoun ones words coooorectly. And Oh how nice to be able to condense 2 pages in to 2 sentences.
My Motto is “Talk Is Cheap, Because Supply Usually Out Strips Demand”

What trait do you most deplore in other people ?
Afraid people upset me if they are later. I’m a stickler for time, maybe it’s my Royal Marine Commando training coming out. But I feel if you say you are going to be some where at such and such a time you should be there, after all I am, because I’m always on time. Nothing worse than hanging around waiting for people, when I could be doing something else.

When not flying what do you do for recreation ?
I run three, soon to be four websites, so that keeps me fairly busy
I’m still running and playing in a band, something I’ve been doing now for more than forty years. My latest band is called “Jump and Jive”. Also I still dabble in the art of Magic and specialize in cards routines, been a life long hobby

Favorite piece of music ?
“Crime of the Century” by Supertramp will never be beaten.

Favorite book ?
I can count on two hands the number of books I’ve read in my life time (not counting the 23 I’ve personally wrote). When I was in primary school my parents gave me a copy of “Tom Sawyer” for a Christmas present. Not being able to read, I took it to school and during one term the teacher read it to the whole class. Always remember that one, I was a Huckleberry Fin fan. I once read the Bible right through, just so I could have augments with people, but that was a waste of time as most people understood it better than me, and I don’t think I ever won one of them. Moved on to military subjects. Being an ex Royal Marine Commando and have undertaken active service in Borneo I could speak from experience. Won a lot of those arguments especially after flexing my muscles.
I like to read anything to do with Soldiers of Fortunes, Mercenaries to the uninitiated. I know that today it’s a dirty word, but I can assure you the most countries use then while denouncing then publicly. I’ve wrote a book collating brief histories of more than 450 mercenaries, some of the people I have known personally over the years.
Pete Bowden once put me onto a good read called “Devils Guard” by George Robert Elford. About the SS in the Foreign Legion and in Vietnam. Although I like “The Five Fingers” by Gayle Rivers & James Hudson, about a Kiwi special forces guy in Vietnam.

Favorite Film ?
“Wild Geese” first comes to mind. Although in 2006 a film came out here in Australia called “Kakoda” Having been on active service in Borneo I must add that it is one of the most realistic war films I have seen to date. Well worth a view just to see what these guys tolerated considering that they were just ordinary teenagers who were only supposed to be in the area filling in the hole blown in the air fields. It turned out that they held back the whole of the Japanese invasion force.
On a lighter note my wife loves “Notting Hill” having been made to sit still and watch it half a dozen times I have to admit that I do enjoy the film. But I’m not quite ready to come out and admit to being an Abba fan and record buyer.

What is your greatest fear ?
Ending up a vegetable in a hospital bed, my only hope is that some how I will be able to switch the machines off. Hope by then that the machines are switched on and off with something like a TV remote.

What is your perfect idea of happiness ?
Haven’t got one. Often wonder if it exists

what would your motto be ?
Do unto others as they would do unto you, only do the bloody thing first.

How would you like to be remembered ?
As somebody who tried to help others, for no finical reward in return. Although this is something I got in to late in life. In my early life I was tight as the preverbal Duck Ar…….

Whats your favorite flying story ?
David Cook’s description of how he became the first person to cross the English Channel in a powered Hang Glider. David’s powered VJ 23 used only about a quarter of the power used by the Frenchman. He also explained how upon landing on the French coast he only had a cup full of petrol left in the tank.

Notable achievements ?

  • Pioneering many of the local sites along with my trusty side kick Snowy. We spent many hours together traveling the Suffolk Country side in our search for new and unknown sites to fly our Hang Gliders.

At that time I had a dark purple colored Ford Escort van which we used to travel in around the country at large. We spent many a night huddled up in the back in our SEPERATE sleeping bags after sampling the local brew, only to keep each other awake playing an old TV program known as “Name that tune”. While using a liberal amount of natural gas, which we both seemed to be able to generate after a night’s diet of meat pies, mushy peas and plenty of beer.

  • From BMAA web site:-

Distance in a closed circuit without landing
Pilot: Terry Aspinall (UK)
Performance: 146 Km
Microlight: Ultra Sports Tripacer / Solar Wings Typhoon S
Location: Unknown
Observer: Unknown
Date: 5 June 1983

Held record untill broken by:-
Pilot: Arthur H. Trapp (UK)
Performance: 204.21 Km
Microlight: Chaser S
Location: Unknown
Observer: Unknown
Date: 31 September 1992

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