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Surrey Vintage Vehicle Society caters for veteran cars, vintage cars & classic cars, as well as commercials and motorcycles.

:: [ SVVS Dinner - Reigate Hill Hotel, Reigate - February 2003 ] ::

After the great sell-out success of our Annual Dinner last year held at the Reigate Hill Hotel it was decided to repeat the venue for this year's event. The highlight of the evening was the speech given by Helen Tempest the very experienced Wingwalker and Operations Director of AeroSuperBatics, the St Ivel "Utterly Butterly" Aerobatics Team who fly Boeing Stearmen biplanes. The writeup below is from the SVVS magazine article by Hon Editor Julian Alderton and the Photos are by Bozi Mohacek. Please click on any thumbnail picture below to see the full size picture. To return to the thumbnails please click the Explorer "Back" arrow (top left of screen).

The Annual Dinner was an outstanding success, debatably it was the most successful, and the most enjoyable, of all S.V.V.S. events to date. This was due in some measure to the efforts of Chairman Mike, and messrs Picnic Organisers for their organising skills but the one person who contributed most to the success of the dinner was our guest speaker, Helen Tempest. 

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Helen is the Operations Director of AeroSuperBatics Ltd., the company which provides the aircraft and the crews to form the 'Utterly Butterly' display team and she gave us a most enjoyable talk about her life as a Wingwalker which started at the age of 15 when she persuaded her father to let her 'have-a-go' at Redhill Aerodrome where he was the Chairman of the Tiger Club. She thus became the youngest ever Wingwalker!

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Mike Erroll was inspired by a packet of 'Utterly Butterly' and a few 'phone calls established contact with Helen's company and, although she had never given a presentation on her life's work, she eventually agreed to be our guest speaker and to tell us about her experiences as a member of their 'Barnstorming' display team. She told us of her love of flying and of doing soon the outside of the aeroplane and, having become hooked on the game, she has kept it up, (literally), ever since. 

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Some twenty year later she is now the most experienced Wingwalker and holds such records as the World's endurance record, that of passing the shortest baton from one wingwalker to another, (this being done, of course, with one aircraft flying inverted above the other) and, in similar mode, holding hands with another walker.

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She also emphasised the levels of training which she and the crews maintain, the skill of their engineering support teams and their 100% safety record. Her talk was thoroughly enjoyable, capturing our imaginations and keeping us hanging on her every word, about as securely as she must hang on to bits of aeroplanes - in flight!

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The morning after the dinner Mike Erroll took Helen and her husband to Redhill Aerodrome and to Dorking for a prolonged stay at a Harley Davidson dealer for not only does Helen dice with the elements on top of Boeing Steannan aircraft, she also doubles up as the rear bumper other husband's Harley Davidson motorcycle. 

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Mike Erroll later commented that Helen was the best speaker we have ever had in the S.V.V.S. - a Mega-enthusiast for what she does, a fact which shone through and made her talk so successful, contributing so much to the enjoyment of an excellent evening.

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 The vote of thanks was proposed by Julian, a former R.A.F. airframe driver, who pointed out the fact that most aircraft are fitted with seats,  safely inside the fuselage,  and anyone daft enough to ride in an aeroplane should stay there, securely strapped in!  There is an old saying, much used by R.A.F. aircrew, 'Only birds and fools fly' - Helen's talk adequately proved this point. He also said that if aircraft were meant to fly upside-down, they would have put the wheels on top. 

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However, he was obviously quite enthralled by Helen's talk and might be accused of overstating the case when he handed out the accolades and expressed the heartfelt thanks of those members present for such an enthralling presentation. He even had to admit, (for once), that Chairman Mike was right, it really was our best talk ever.

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It should also be said that the meal provided by Reigate Hill Hotel was every bit as good as last year and that the service by the young crew was excellent. A thoroughly good evening was held by all!
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