Ambrose Barber relates some of the Duke of Edinburgh’s aviation exploits….
    When I joined the Tiger Club in the ‘60s the Duke and his R.A.F. equerry, John Severne, were already members. The Club, with some justification, considered itself to be the UK’s premier sporting flying club. It not only promoted competitive aerobatics, air racing, long distance flying including the annual ‘Dawn-to-Dusk’ competition, but mounted its own Air Shows which, if you were selected for one of the teams, would subsidise the cost of some of the flying involved; essential for an impecunious Hawker employee!
   Having earned his RAF ‘wings’ on a Harvard the Duke was thereafter supposed never to fly solo again, but it is an open secret in aeronautical circles that in October 1960, having no doubt instructed his ‘minders’ to look the other way, John Severne had arranged with the Tiger Club for the Duke to visit White Waltham to have an enjoyable fly in a little Turbulent single-seater. What is far less well known is that the very next time G- APNZ left the ground the engine failed and the startled pilot managed a successful forced landing. Had this happened on the previous flight I think there would have been quite a rumpus! ‘PNZ redeemed the Tiger Club’s reputation when the following year it won the King’s Cup air race in the hands of John Severne himself. I subsequently flew it many times and always thought it a fun little aeroplane.The only time I came across the Duke was when he was guest at our Annual Dinner, a black-tie affair held on that occasion at the Naval and Military Club in Town. In his speech I remember him describing most Tiger Club pilots as ‘amiable lunatics’ with that amusing twinkle in his eyes!

The Duke And The Tiger Club

    Although the Duke never flew with the Club or solo again, he must have taken every opportunity to fly, often I imagine, in the right-hand seat on longish trips, because he amassed nearly 6000 hours, comparable to Bill Bedford’s total made in a lifetime of short ones. He told his chosen biographer emphatically that left to his own devices “I’d have gone into the Air Force without a doubt”. ( Ed’s note: It is likely that his uncle, Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Louis Mountbatten, insisted that the Duke follow a Naval career.
    The Duke retained a supportive interest in the Club’s activities and took part in judging the Dawn-to-Dusk Open competition for some years, inviting John Farley to help in assessing the results at Buckingham Palace. On the way John found himself stuck in a hopeless traffic jam but, spying a police car, explained his problem. The officers responded by turning on their blue light and making rapid progress while John tucked in behind them. He did get there just in time, but not before an angry motorist had shouted “Where the hell d’you think you’re going?” to which John responded, with his
typical presence of mind ‘If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me!