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Norman Revell 1934 – 2018

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[John Sentance writes]

Norman Revell was born on the 21/10/1934, the eldest of 3 brothers – Maurice and Gordon. Flying has always been in the family blood, Maurice and Gordon joined the RAF but Norman pursued a career in the mining industry.

Norman went solo in a Tutor, on the 14th August 1954 at the Newcastle Gliding Club based at Usworth and gained his ‘C’ certificate on the 20th May 1956 in a Kite 1. He completed his Silver Badge No. 1443 during July 1964. Norman became a very well-respected gliding instructor also teaching tug pilots their skills at Newcastle Airport. He was also instrumental in obtaining a T21 side by side two-seater for the Borders Gliding Club at Milfield, and there is still a picture of that glider in the clubhouse at Milfield. He was a member of Carlton Moor gliding club, becoming their CFI.

I first met Norman during visits to Port Moak, the home of the Scottish Gliding Union, in the late 70’s or early 80’s. I had not seen him for many years until he arrived at Saltby from Kirton Lindsey. I’ve been wondering why I remembered him so well, and I think it was his character and charisma which made such an impact.

His working life was spent in the mining industry. He rose through mine management and was greatly respected by his colleagues and staff whilst a mine manager, and his firm but friendly personality also gained the respect of the unions in his mines. He then moved into the mining inspectorate where he used his flying skills to fly around Scotland, paying unannounced visits to the various outlying mines to check on progress following earlier visits. He retired as Chief Inspector of mines for Scotland.

He became a member at Saltby in the late 80’s, where he became a very well- respected instructor and his infectious personality endeared him to many members especially the Wednesday day group. He became very friendly with Steve and Joan West, with whom he used to stay when getting his medical at EMA. Steve tells me of a story when he and Norman took a flight in a glider during the total eclipse of the sun, flying during the dark period and landing as the sun reappeared. Harold, (Cross Swords, Skillington) joined the gliding at Norman’s behest, but because Wednesday was a difficult day for Harold, Norman started the Monday group. Norman was very good at delegating and because he wasn’t good with computers he persuaded Harold to obtain the weather and NOTAMs ready for picking up at 08.00 on the dot each flying day.

Amongst Norman’s group was also, Alan Wright and Geoff Hill with whom he played Golf. David Byrne also became one of Norman’s close friends often having a meal with him at the Cross Swords. Norman always had his favourite – a Rack of Lamb.

In addition to gliding, golf was also one of Norman’s important hobbies.

During the winter months between December and March, Norman flew to Hawaii where he regularly stayed with a local family becoming godfather to one of their children.

He flew at the Hawaii Glider and Sailplane Academy on Oahu and became a close friend of Yuko, the owner, and Elmer Udd, an ex-military pilot. Norman also had an American pilot’s licence and used to maintain his hours by flying around the islands. When not flying, he often played golf with Elmer and because he’d been a pilot in the American Air Force, they had access to the military golf course which Norman enjoyed immensely.

A few years ago, Norman became very ill on his way back from Hawaii from which he never really recovered.

Norman was made a Life member of Buckminster Gliding Club and will be fondly remembered by those who knew him. for his enthusiasm, drive, some stubbornness and the ability to get others involved by delegation with a smile. All those who knew him have memories of Norman, who was a good friend, fine instructor and well- respected man.

[ And from Chris Hayball ]

In 1998 I met somebody who during my 20’s 30’s and 40’s had a hugely positive impact not only upon myself, but many other of my fellow club members of BGC. He became to me a great friend and mentor. Whilst I’ve been always grateful to the people who have taken time out to convert me onto various types of aircraft, this chap was one of two men who taught me to fly (albeit over 20 years ago). I think I’ve been lucky to fly with two of the best instructors in the BGA cadre. Norman Revell was one of them. His straight to the point, cool manner ensured you knew when you were performing or perhaps if improvement was required.

One of three sons, he tragically lost his youngest brother Gordon, a IV(F) Flight Lieutenant on the 23/01/74 in a failed bang out from Harrier GR3 XV797 over what was then West Germany, whilst his older brother a retired Nimrod captain died some years back. Norman himself told me that he decided not to join the RAF as he wanted flying to remain as a hobby. Instead, after graduating he pursed a career in deep mine management in the Durham Coalfields, but retired as part of the HM Mines Inspectorate. None the less he had an epic UAS career, back in the days when you had access to a Harvard and a Vampire! Heard the story of the mass Chipmunk formation transit across the Pennines in VMC flown by a bunch of very hungover (probably over the limit) UAS pilots? Hell, it was the 50’s.

Hawaii is probably where Norman picked up his Americanisms. Arriving at Saltby you would be met immediately with “Wanna fly? or “Get in the ship man”; whilst always filling you with total confidence using his regular phrases such “you’ve got it man” and the best one “it’s no big deal”.

A man who lived life to the full, whether it be his annual Hawaii winter getaway or his love of golf. For many a year If I was near Saltby on a Wednesday evening, I would usually join him in the Cross Swords for a meal, and for Norm it was usually Harold’s Rack of Lamb.

Norm, you were brilliant, you were always great company and I and many of us loved flying with you. Blue skies man.