DAVID GILMOUR & INTREPID AVIATION
following are the recollections of Brain Damage regular Chris Kluttz, a
fan of the band, and a fan of vintage planes. He therefore decided one
day to combine both interests, visiting Intrepid Aviation...
Established in 1990 to manage
David Gilmour's collection of vintage aircraft, the Intrepid Aviation
Company have established themselves as the people to call for anything
aeronautical. Operations manager Brendan Walsh's background in the
music and film business has proved invaluable in matching the needs of
productions with the highly specialised area of aviation filming.
Responding to the shortage of filming facilities in the London area, in
July 1997 Intrepid Aviation acquired Hangar 4 at North Weald - just 1
hour from Central London by road or 40 minutes by underground.
A few years ago, David decided to sell Intrepid, for the following reason (taken from a BBC radio interview in 2002):
"Intrepid Aviation was a way for me
to make my hobby pay for itself a little bit, but gradually over a few
years Intrepid Aviation became a business because you have to be
businesslike about it. Suddenly I found instead of it being a hobby and
me enjoying myself, it was a business and so I sold it. I don't have
Intrepid Aviation any more. I just have a nice old biplane that I pop
up, wander around the skies in sometimes..."
The following report was based on a visit when David was still very much the boss of the company...
of 1998 saw the vintage aircraft expedition at North Weald, hosted by
David Gilmour’s company, Intrepid Aviation. Lots of amazing aircraft,
accessibility to the public for a small fee, and a chance to meet Pink
Floyd’s guitarist - a wonderful way to spend a sunny, weekend day in
mid-May. I arrived on a dreary day in late June.
My scheduling error was, in fact,
a last minute gift, generously given by my parents who sent me to
England from the United States. Having lived in the London a few years
before, my parents knew how much I wished to return. A well-appointed
flat, courtesy of my aunt and uncle, sealed the deal.
Despite having missed the event
by several weeks, I was excited because in my hands was a note from
Intrepid’s go-to guy, Brendan Walsh. After sending an inquiry which I
figured would get me nowhere, I had received a note from Brendan,
inviting me to Intrepid for a tour.
a relaxing trip by rail to the designated station, I needed a taxi to
complete the journey. Despite the spotty directions, I was immediately
suspicious of the taxi driver - the trip was taking longer than
anticipated. My limited funds had me paranoid that I’d ended up with
someone corrupt and would be stuck an hour from London with nowhere to
go for help. Maybe I was being exploited for my initial introduction
of, “I have no idea where I’m going.” Regardless, we did make it - and
the approach to the airfield is still something I can envision. Perhaps
it was just that I was replaying the videos for “Learning to Fly” or
“High Hopes” in my head, but there was a Floyd feel to the surroundings.
Upon approach, I noticed that one
of the hangars boasted a small seal - that of Intrepid Aviation. Not
big enough to draw too much attention, but easily identifiable to the
inquisitive eye; I had identified my target location. Immediately next
to the hangar was a small trailer/modular building containing the only
sign of life - a 3 series BMW.
dutifully parted with the taxi fare - as well as my lunch money, I am
still convinced. The driver was kind enough to arrange to pick me up in
an hour or so. Believing that I would pay dearly for such service, I
conceded nonetheless, as my only other option was to walk back several
kilometres to the train station, which I would never find on my own.
Walking up to the office trailer,
it appeared that I could walk straight in. No one was in sight; only a
narrow hallway was on the other side of the windowed door. I entered
and it was immediately evident that I was to turn right and walk down
the hall to the open office area. However, human nature got the best of
me and I became curious. Upon seeing David Gilmour’s photo (in full
flight suit) above an office door, I put two and two together, made the
conclusion that this was his office, and headed directly for it - in
the exact opposite direction of where I was supposed to go.
The staff of Intrepid Aviation,
obviously not expecting Mr. Gilmour and hearing footsteps headed away
from them, immediately began to shout politely, “Hello!? Hello!?”
Before responding, I did get an inside view of David Gilmour’s office -
a very nice, black leather sofa, a desk and a large Sony television. My
memory is all I have of this, as I was quickly scooped up before being
able to take a picture.
main office of Intrepid Aviation was a large room comprising the entire
right side of the trailer. Three desks, bookcases and a comfortable tan
leather sofa acted as furnishings. (It was years later that I found a
French interview with photos of Gilmour, seated on that sofa - a nice
surprise!!) The walls were graced with various photos of their aircraft
and a large whiteboard containing scheduling information (I believe my
visit was on there, but alas, no photographic proof). At this time I
met Brendan Walsh and some of his staff.
The staff were all very kind and
incredibly accommodating, especially to someone right off the street.
As a gesture of my appreciation, I had brought a copy of a book that my
friend’s parents had written on World War II soldiers’ journals. (For
those interested, and I admit this is a cheap plug, the book is
entitled, “A Wartime Log” and is available on Amazon). I handed this to
Brendan, giving my thanks and explaining the book’s significance. He
was taken aback, as I recall, but I insisted it was the least I could
On with the tour. Seemingly
fascinated with the book, Brendan walked me outside to the hangar,
which was open and awaiting my inspection. All these years later, and
I’m still impressed by the access that I was given. I climbed in and
around all of the planes, snapping several photos as I went.
had a particular fascination with the P-51D Mustang, as I had built
miniatures of this plane when I was younger. Showing my patriotism, I
was also fond of the U.S. Mail plane. It will probably go un-noticed in
the photos, but the actual hangar was a testament to organization and
high maintenance - every tool was in its place and everything was
clean, painted and just right.
After spending my hour-plus
rummaging about, I knew my time was limited. I believe that had I
asked, I could have taken a ride in one of the planes. A dream come
true for some, but flying, ironically, is not something I enjoy.
Visions of me ruining the inside of a vintage aircraft kept me quiet.
hopping in with my friend the taxi driver, I again entered the office
trailer with Brendan and was given several posters to commemorate my
visit. My favorite is a close-up, in flight photo of the Mustang. I
still have this framed and hanging in my office at home.
Thus concluded my day at Intrepid
Aviation. As we drove back to the train station, I stared back at the
hangar until it was out of site. When we arrived at the train station I
was still smiling from ear to ear. I don’t even remember being upset at
the cost of the taxi for the return trip.
Our thanks to Chris Kluttz for sharing his memories and pictures with us. Good stuff, Chris!