Pilots

Mark Jefferies – Global Stars Team

Mark-Jefferies-Abarth-Cars-UK-Brand-AmbassadorA brief note on my flying experience. I started flying in 1980 and have flown over 130 different types of aircraft from Microlites to L29, Hawker Hunter and Hawk jets. I now have approximately 3800 hrs experience. British aerobatic champion at all levels throughout the years, British Aerobatic team member 10 times. Air display flying started in 1984 and now I have flown shows in numerous aircraft around Europe and have flown by invitation in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Romania, Slovenia, Germany, Holland, Turkey, Switzerland, France, Spain, South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Malta. In 1997 I flew in the southern hemisphere Reno race, Tasmania. I hold a BCPL with Display authorization issued by the CAA giving display permission to 30 ft fly past and 50ft unlimited aerobatics in group A & B aircraft. For the L-29 jet and YAK 3 & 11 the minimum heights are 100ft fly past and 200ft aerobatics. Formation qualified as leader of large formations flying with the Aerostars for 4 years in number 2, 4, 6 & 7 positions, also I have flown as a stunt pilot for films and fly in the Aero-GP contests.

Mark Jefferies took up aerobatics flying immediately after he got his PPL in December 1980. His first contest was in 1984, in 1985 he entered 6 contests and which saw 5 wins including the nationals in the 1936 designed Bucker Jungmann he rebuilt from a pile of parts obtained from the Spanish Airforce. In a quest for performance and the ability to enter at the higher levels he built a Laser 200 which enabled a win at the Unlimited nationals in 1994, the only person in UK aerobatics to have built and flown to the ultimate goal of aerobatics winning the national title at advanced and unlimited. He has now been national champion at all levels on 10 occasions.

Mark is managing director of YAK UK Ltd, surely one of the UK’s light aviation success stories. Flying his homebuilt Laser 200 he became the British Unlimited Champion in 1994, retiring and then coming back to aerobatics in 1998 has since won the Advanced crown for five straight years from 1998 to 2002. Mark won a bronze medal and a podium appearance for his 3rd place in the Advanced World Aerobatics Championships held in Slovenia in August 2002. Mark and his wife Cathy have two daughters Jasmine and Tara, the family home being the farm at the heart of Little Gransden airfield in Bedfordshire. He flies many types of aircraft, notably from the Russian YAK series. It was the YAK 11 rebuild that led to Mark becoming the major exporter from the FSU of various types of sporting aircraft. Mark returned to Unlimited aerobatics in 2003 winning the national championships again in 2005, 2006 and 2007, also in 2007 Mark flew to 9th place in the World Aerobatic championships, Granada, Spain in the Extra 300s. Mark flies air shows most weekends throughout the summer in a selection of aircraft, Extra 330SC, YAK 11, L-29 jet & YAK 50.

Tom Cassells – Global Stars Team

tom cassells - global stars air displaysTom left school at the age of 15 and joined the Junior Leaders Regiment Royal Armoured Corp. Aged 17, he joined his regiment 13th/18th Royal Hussars. Tom returned to civilian life in 1976 and started driving heavy goods vehicles and cattle trucks. While big lorries provided a living and developed into a successful career, they were not agile enough for someone who has enjoyed moderate success racing motorcycles. The added dimension of airflow and gravity had to be overcome, and Tom gained his PPL in 1983. Since then, he has flown some forty types, accumulating round 7,000 hours experience. Some of this was spent as a parachute drop pilot, operating his own BN-2 Islander for 5 years and also participating in AFF (accelerated free fall) parachute drops. The late Pete Clark introduced Tom to Aerobatics in 1992. Flying Pete’s Slingsby Firefly, he won his first contest at Breighton that same year. The following year the success continued with a fine win in the Tiger Trophy for Standard level pilots. At the end of 1994, Tom acquired a Zlin 50LA with which he won the 1995 UK Advanced Level Championship. Tom now flies a CAP 232 which he bought in 1998 and in which he placed second in the 1999 Unlimited Nationals held in Swansea. Tom won the Icicle Trophy in the same year and he also placed third in the Nationals. Tom is the current British National Champion – a title he has held three times now.

International Achievement – At the European Championships, held in Spain, 1999, Tom was placed 24th overall and was top British pilot, winning the Len Perry Trophy. In 2000, Tom achieved an excellent 24th place in the World Aerobatic Championships in Muret in France, and also a second Len Perry Trophy. In 2002, Tom finished 14th in the European Aerobatic Championships in Lithuania and for the the first time won the Neil Williams Memorial Trophy, becoming the British Aerobatic Champion. In 2004, the British Team won the bronze medal in the European Aerobatic Championships, the first British medal in an international competition since 1976. Tom placed 13th in this competition and was again the top placed British Pilot. Most recently, Tom came 10th in the European Aerobatic Championships in Czech Republic winning the Len Perry Trophy for being the highest placed British pilot.

Chris Burkett – Global Stars Team

DCIM101GOPROChris’ fascination with all aspects of aviation began at an early age. First experiences of flying and aerobatics were in a de Havilland Chipmunk as an RAF cadet. Some years later he was able to complete his PPL on the Chipmunk and own a share in his own machine. This led to his first taste of display and formation flying as part of Captain Neville’s Flying Circus, involving balloon bursting, flour bombing and flying ‘limbo’ underneath bunting! Aerobatics however was always the special focus and Chris progressed to flying the Pitts Special, the iconic aerobatic biplane flown by almost all the great competition and display pilots at some stage in their careers.

In 2006 Chris entered aerobatic competition in the Pitts. He started the season with a maiden win first time out in both of the first two tiers of aerobatic competition, and ended the season as UK National Aerobatic Champion in the Standard category.

Chris’ Pitts Special was a “homebuilt” aeroplane – with scope for some hands-on, “nuts and bolts” engineering. “My Pitts started life with two ailerons, flat-bottom wings and no electric system, and ended its time with me with four ailerons, symmetric wings and full electrics, including a starter motor and an alternator! It was a lovely, responsive aeroplane to fly, though lacking the ultimate performance of the latest monoplanes”.

In recent years Chris has been flying advanced aerobatics in the Extra 300S. This is one of the latest breed of powerful, lightweight monoplanes that have opened up previously undreamt of manoeuvres – end-over-end tumbles that leave you thinking “planes are not supposed to be able to do that” and wondering “how on earth did he do that?”.

Steve Carver – Global Stars Team

Global Stars pilot Steve CarverSteve was born in Lancashire and had his first aerobatic ride aged thirteen in a Chipmunk, G-ARGG, belonging to ANT Flying Club at Blackpool Airport. Shortly after this he joined his local Air Training Corps squadron in Wigan, continued with the Chipmunk flying and went solo at Burtonwood in a T31 glider, a two seater in tandem with an open cockpit. Steve left the Air Training Corps in 1980 in order to study for a degree in Mathematics and Philosophy at the University of Leeds. “Civvy” gliding proved to be too expensive at this stage and so building radio controlled slope soarers was the next best thing.

Following graduation and a one year post graduate course, he began lecturing in pure and applied mathematics, and eventually took up gliding again with his wife, Elaine, at the Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club. The long term goal was aerobatic flying and so in 1988 Steve obtained a PPL at Sherburn via a Silver C and decided to go commercial shortly afterwards.

Having had several gliding expeditions to Aboyne, Scotland, Steve applied to be tug pilot there for the 1990 season and by October had the necessary 700 hours for the issue of a CPL. Following six years on the Saab 340 turboprop, he is now operating the Embraer 145 jet as a training captain for British Midland Commuter.