Hamble College of Air Training

Hamble College of Air Training was a flight training centre in Hampshire, England. During the late 1950s it became apparent that there was going to be a shortage of ex military pilots who would be available to crew British  civil aircraft. The two (then) state owned airline corporations, British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) and British European Airways (BEA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Aviation, proposed a flying school based loosely on the Royal Air Force's officer training college at Cranwell. The site chosen was a small airfield at Hamble, Hampshire in the Southern United Kingdom, used at the time by Air Service Training and Southampton University Air Squadron. The first course of cadets began training in 1960.

For the first few years of operation the course lasted two years:  later courses were shortened to eighteen months. Cadets were accepted  equally from the ranks of school leavers and university graduates:  previous flying experience was not a requirement. Following fifteen  weeks of ground study, ab initio and, later, advanced flying training commenced. Ground training included aerodynamics, astronavigation, meteorology,  propulsion and many other disciplines. Flying training commenced after fifteen weeks, initially on De Havilland Chipmunk then Piper Cherokee aircraft, progressing to twin engine experience on Piper Apaches and later Beechcraft Barons. A graduate would leave the college with a British commercial pilot's  licence and a "frozen" airline transport pilot's licence, which could be converted into a full ATPL after further examinations and having  accumulated the requisite flying hours.
The college continued operations until the mid-1980s: British Airways (the merged BOAC and BEA) announced the closure in 1982 and in 1984 the land was sold for development and the equipment disposed of.


Mike Bannister - Biography #2

In his British Airways executive management role Mike oversaw the retirement of the airline’s flagship supersonic fleet of seven Concorde aircraft.  Until the final flight of Concorde in 2003 he was also the company’s Chief Concorde Pilot and was instrumental in the aircraft’s Return To Service programme following the July 2000 accident at Gonnesse.  His contributions to that effort included writing the associated corporate Safety Case, the Business Case and multiple dealings with UK and French authorities, governments and manufacturers.  This was coupled with extensive and direct work with Concorde customers – both corporate and personal.  In bringing those programmes to successful conclusions he led diverse teams from across the transport industry. During the final few high profile years of Concorde’s operation Mike acted as Company Spokesman for British Airways working world wide across all channels of communication in promotional, current affairs and documentary areas.  After Concorde’s retirement Mike’s management role was expanded to include General Manager, Gatwick Fleets.

At the age of 55 Captain Mike Bannister reached the then compulsory retirement age for Flight Crew within British Airways.  He retired from the position of General Manager, Airbus, Boeing 737 / 757 / 767, Concorde and Gatwick Fleets.  In that role he was responsible for Flight Operations, technical performance, business performance, and Flight Crew management together with developing and maintaining standards for flying crew on these fleets.  The business for which he was directly responsible included around 1400 Flight Crew, 135 aircraft and a budget of £135m. (2004 value).

Since retirement Mike has used his extensive aviation and general management experience across a broad spectrum of commercial, charity and community activities.  Currently these include:-

  • Aviation Consultancy specialising in Airline Operations and Management, Safety & Security where he travels extensively on a wide variety of UK and international carriers.

  • Services as an ‘Expert Witness’ and ‘Expert Advisor’ in aviation related legal cases

  • Chair of Governors and Trustees at a Surrey Independent School currently leading a team managing a £3m development scheduled to be completed in 2012

  • Trustee of Brooklands Museum, Weybridge with several portfolios including Health & Safety, Concorde simulator operations and Business Development.  In the latter role he is part of the team working on the Museum’s £10m+ capital improvement projects.

  • Lay Chair of the PCC of the Parish of Staines and part of the Finance Committee managing their £250k+ budget.

  • General Committee Member at The Wentworth Club and ‘Team Manager’ within the Seniors’ Section.

In other aspects of his career he is, or has been:-

  • Chief Pilot of Merlix Air – a UK based aircraft charter company

  • Senior Pilot for the Red Devils – the UK’s and British Army’s leading parachute team

  • Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators – a City of London Livery Company with over 1700 members world-wide

  • A very active member of a wide number of UK aviation and CAA committees, both regulatory and advisory

  • An in demand consultant on aviation and Executive Management matters across the World – particularly in the USA and Europe

  • A senior airline advisor on aviation safety and legal matters

  • A widely acknowledged expert public speaker with engagements in the UK, USA and Europe

  • A well respected and experienced commentator and / or corporate spokesperson in all channels of media covering aviation and non-aviation matters

Since the retirement of Concorde Mike has contributed significantly to the raising of over £200,000 for good causes by lectures, signings and personal contributions etc. Wishing to “Put Something Back” he is very active in the Voluntary / Third Sector including having taken on roles as a Chair of School Governors of an Independent School in Surrey, Corporate Non Executive Directorships, Anglican Church Lay PCC Chair and as a Trustee of a number of organisations, including Brooklands Museum. Mike also runs an Aviation Consultancy specialising in Airline Management, Operational, Safety and Security matters across a wide range of aircraft types and geographical locations. For the last 10 years he has been extensively involved as an expert witness and lead technical advisor in the ‘Air France Concorde Trial’.

In his relaxation time Mike plays golf at the Wentworth Club, where he is a General Committee Member, loves cricket at all levels and travels extensively on a wide variety of UK and international carriers. Mike  currently resides in Middlesex, UK, with his wife Christine, a former British Airways Cabin Service Director.  He has three children: James, Robert and Amy.

Tony, who flew Concorde as a First Officer from 1987 to 1993, retired fully from aviation in 2005 after completing 46 years of continuous aviation service. He started his professional aviation career in the Royal Air Force, initially training on the Hunting Percival Provost (the Piston Provost) and then the Vam Pire T11 trainer.


Mike Bannister Biography #1

Mike graduated from the Ashton School in Dunstable, and the College Of Air Training Hamble, having been awarded a Royal Air Force Flying Scholarship in 1966. Mike then joined BOAC  (British Airways’ predecessor) in 1969 as a pilot and flight navigator on the Vickers VC10 fleet.  He became the youngest pilot on the Concorde fleet in 1977, completing the first ever course for ‘Line Flight Crew.’  Over the following years Mike was a member of a number of government and industry policy groups dedicated to aviation safety, and became a Concorde pilot instructor in 1986.

Mike joined British Airways Management becoming Assistant Training Manager and a Captain on the BAe1-11 fleet in 1989.  He also served as Flight Crew Manager for that fleet and the A320 fleet.  In 1990 he was appointed Flight Manager (Technical) for the BAC 1-11 fleet.  In 1992 he moved to the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 fleet as departmental Manager Business Development & Communications and was named Head of Communications, Flight Operations in 1992. In that role he managed all aspects of Flight Operations communications, media contact and use whilst being a key contributor to British Airways corporate media, publicity and branding activities.  In addition he acted as a lead spokesman for British Airways for a number of key issues whilst also developing the departmental and corporate Business Plans. He was appointed the airline’s Chief Concorde Pilot in 1995 and, until the aircraft’s retirement, and regularly flew as Captain on all of the aircraft’s routes world-wide.

From July 2000 Mike was very actively involved in the corporate and industry efforts to achieve Concorde’s safe return to service in November 2001.  In that role he liaised closely with manufacturers, accident investigators, Air France, Governments and the Authorities as well as representing the company in a range of arenas.  He led the development of the Safety Case for ‘Return to Service’ and was a key member of the team that wrote the associated ‘Business Case’.  Additionally he developed and delivered the retraining of Concorde Flight Crew in preparation for Concorde flying duties following their extended secondment to other types. Mike was seconded to the Air Accident Investigation Branch as Lead Technical Delegate during the Concorde Accident Investigation. Mike delivered significant Concorde presentations to customers, staff, insurers, service partners and authorities including landmark events for the Top 50 Concorde Customers at Engineering Base at Heathrow and the Four Seasons Restaurant in New York.  He also performed a crucial role as Media Spokesman for all Concorde matters over an extensive period of time. Mike was at the controls of British Airways’ Supersonic Flagship when she returned to service on November 7th 2001 and for the final scheduled flight from New York to London on October 24th 2004.  In addition he flew the aircraft for all of the ‘Air to Air’ photographs and movies of Concorde that were used in supporting presentations. His other Concorde “firsts” are too numerous to list, highlights include: landing the aircraft on inaugural visits to Oakland, Philadelphia, Denver, Dallas, Baltimore and Miami. He commanded the aircraft in June 1996 on the 50th Anniversary Fly Past of London Heathrow Airport, flying in formation with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows. He flew Concorde to New York on her 21st birthday on Jan. 21st 1997, and commanded former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s State Visit to Denver for the G7 Summit meeting later that year.  He has worked with NASA and Boeing on the next generation SST and commanded the Concorde / Red Arrows Fly Past at the State Opening of the Scottish Parliament on June 1st 1999.  At the end of 1999 he commanded Concorde as it overflew the British Airways London Eye on ‘Millennium Eve’. In the USA Mike was instrumental in developing the British Airways ‘Ride The Rocket Roadshow’ having worked closely with US staff to produce the introductory video, provided much of the technical information and some of the exhibits.  He was also a key Technical Advisor to Microsoft for the development of the Concorde model within their then best selling Flight Sim 2000 PC program.

As ‘Chief Concorde Test Pilot’, Mike commanded the first British Airways Concorde flights following embodiment of the series of safety modifications.  The two Technical Verification Flights of the first Concorde to have its Certificate of Airworthiness restored ~ G-BOAF ~ took place in July 2001.  Following that he established and ran the Refresher Training programme for flight Crew including Base Training at Shannon in Ireland in the summer of 2001.  He subsequently flew the first scheduled flight as Concorde returned to regular passenger service.  He was well prepared for these both in experience terms, having been a Concorde Instructor since 1986 and having qualified as a CAA Test Pilot to fly Concorde Certificate of Airworthiness Test Flights since 1996.

In March 2002 Mike’s responsibilities were extended to cover all aspects of the Flight Operation of British Airways Airbus A319 and A320 fleets together with the Boeing 737, 757 and 767 fleets.  He continued to fly Concorde on a regular basis on her scheduled routes to New York and Barbados until her retirement. A particular highlight of Mike’s Concorde career was commanding British Airways Concorde G-BOAD as she flew in the 27 aircraft formation that closed the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations on June 4th 2002.  He took his element of the formation, Concorde plus nine Hawk aircraft of the RAF’s Red Arrows aerobatic team, down ‘The Mall’ and over Buckingham Palace at 1500 feet to the cheers and applause of the million plus spectators gathered to honour the occasion. As a climax to his Concorde career Mike commanded and flew the final Concorde commercial flight from New York to London on Friday October 24th 2003. Subsequently he flew the flights of the Concorde Fleet to their final resting places in Manchester, Barbados, New York, Seattle and Filton.  By the time Concorde retired Mike had amassed over 9,200 Concorde flight hours – around three quarters of these, 6,900, being at supersonic speeds. In addition to his Concorde responsibilities Mike had responsibility for the Flight Operations of British Airways Airbus, Boeing 737, 757 and 767 Fleets from March 2002.  In February 2004 he also assumed responsibility for the Gatwick operation.