Les flew Concorde with British Airways as a Senior First Officer for 4 years between 1999 and its end of service in 2003. He was privileged to fly the last commercial Concorde service from London to New York in October 2003.
Earlier, Les had been a fast-jet pilot with the Royal Air Force, flying “Jump Jet” Harriers for over 7 years. He instructed Harrier and Hunter pilots in the arts of combat and weapons delivery and served in the Falkland Islands, albeit shortly after the conflict ended. He graduated as a test pilot from the Empire Test Pilots School in 1985 (his course was televised as a popular series on the BBC). He spent four very interesting years as a research test pilot with the Royal Aircraft Establishment (now QinetiQ) at Bedford and at Boscombe Down. During this time, he helped develop fly-by-wire systems, advanced displays, and the use of Night Vision Goggles and infrared imaging systems.
Les joined British Airways in 1990 as a Boeing 747 pilot, entering a low level management role for 2 years before taking up a training co-pilot position. He trained as a Concorde pilot in 1999; when Concorde was finally retired from service in 2003 he was promoted to Training Captain on the Boeing 757/767 fleet.
Les retired from British Airways in July 2006 and now runs a training and consultancy business specialising in aircraft and aero systems design, and test pilot training. He is married to Jill and has a daughter and a son. His favourite pastime is sailing.
Les lectures extensively on flying Concorde, the Concorde accident, test flying, Harrier flying, air safety, the future of high speed commercial travel, the Falklands Conflict and other aviation subjects. He regularly lectures to professional organisations as well as on cruise ships.
1. “The Magic of Concorde” - how an aircraft captivated the world
This presentation highlights what made the Concorde transatlantic experience magical and unique; the speed, design, glamour, service and advanced technology that was Concorde.
2. “My Day in the Office at 60,000 Feet”
From crew check-in at London Heathrow to the British Airways terminal at JFK, follow a typical British Airways Concorde flight, as seen through the eyes of the pilots.
3. “What Made Concorde So Special”
This presentation takes a technical look at a number of unique differences between ordinary aircraft and Concorde. Although this is a technical presentation, do not be put off – Les makes it interesting and exciting!
4. “Disaster at Paris” - The Tragic Concorde Crash of 2000
This presentation provides a detailed analysis of the Air France crash of July 2000. A degree of controversy still surrounds this accident; learn more about what really caused this tragedy and the preventative modifications instituted as a result.
5. “The End of a Dream” – Concorde’s Retirement
A look at the real reasons for Concorde’s retirement – commercial, technical and political, as well as the exemplary manner in which British Airways managed it’s withdrawal from service.
6. “What Comes Next?” – The Potential Follow-on to Concorde
Will there be a successor to Concorde? What form might future very high speed commercial travel take; supersonic business jets? hypersonic airliners? sub-orbital space travel? What technological developments provide most potential?
7. “How Does That Thing Get Off the Ground?” – Aerodynamics for the Layman
Let Les take you through the basics of aerodynamic theory; what lifts the aircraft up; how does the pilot control it? Don’t worry; you won’t need a Maths Degree to understand this!!
8. “Flying the Harrier” - From 500kts to the hover
The excitement of flying one of the world’s most unusual fighters on the front line. A look at the life of a military fighter pilot in field deployments, operating from grass strips in Germany.
9. “Test Pilot” - What does the test pilot’s job entail?
A look into the challenges of the test pilot’s course and the fascinating world of testing aircraft and their systems.
10. “Airline Pilot” - A bus driver or something more difficult?
We find out what an airline pilot’s life is really like; the physical challenges of flying a large aircraft in all conditions; the career choices and options; the work pattern. Do pilots prefer the "shorthaul" lifestyle to the "longhaul" lifestyle?
11. “Air War in the Falklands - Preparations”
The conflict in the South Atlantic caught the British military by surprise. This lecture details the initial response and preparations of the Royal Navy and RAF to the impending air conflict.
12. “Air War in the Falklands - Contact”
With British forces in place, and others following, the air power conflict begins. The opposing forces were finely balanced in terms of capabilities, and the tactical and strategic situations fluctuated over the subsequent weeks. This account by an RAF Harrier pilot explains the factors which led to a British victory.