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Steven Inch, now qualified with a CAA Private Pilots Licence

A 24-year old Flight Operations Officer at Biggin Hill Airport has recently won his wings after qualifying for his Private Pilots Licence as the second Nick Davidson Memorial Flying Scholar.  He follows in the footsteps of John Harrison, the winner of the first memorial scholarship last year, who is now in the process of joining the Royal Air Force.

Steven Inch, who lives in Biggin Hill, successfully completed the 45-hour training course with nine associated ground exams in subjects such as Air Law and Navigation to qualify for his CAA licence. He trained with the Surrey & Kent Flying Club based at the airport and his training programme has been fully encouraged and supported by Biggin Hill Airport Ltd.

Looking back on his training programme with the club, Steven says that his first solo was a defining moment for him.

“The day was 5th August 2014.  It started with 50 minutes dual flying with my instructor Judy Senior.  I completed a total of four circuits and landings at Biggin Hill under her supervision.   After the final landing, Judy instructed me to taxi back to the clubhouse.  While taxiing, she asked me if I was happy to go solo as she said that I was ready.  Although I was understandably nervous and excited, I agreed.  What an incredible feeling it was to be in the air, alone in the cockpit.  It was the fulfilment of my long-held dream to fly” he says.

Steven also says that his new qualification provides a new dimension for his work in Flight Operations at the airport.

“The PPL training programme was an incredible journey for me. It now gives me a greater understanding from the pilot’s perspective – and we have many visiting pilots here” he says.

He now looks forward to taking family and friends flying with him to see the countryside from the air.  Looking at the longer term future, Steven would like to develop his new skills and become a professional pilot.

Steven paid a tribute to the late Captain Nick Davidson and to his widow Alina who has now sponsored two flying scholarships allowing two young men to ‘reach for the sky’.

“I feel privileged to have been the benefactor of this amazingly generous funding.  Nick flew here with the Surrey & Kent Flying Club before going on to more senior jobs and eventually as a Captain with British Airways. His early inspiration and determination to become a professional pilot sets a fine example that I wish to follow” he said.

Nick Davidson Memorial Flying Scholarships

Editorial background

Nick Davidson was a Captain on the British Airways Airbus A320 fleet.   Following his time as an Instructor at Biggin Hill during the early 1990’s, he flew night mail in light turbo-props with Willow Air from Southend Airport.  As his career developed, he transferred to City Flyer at Gatwick flying UK and European passenger services.  He joined British Airways in 1998 as First Officer with the Boeing 757 fleet, moving to long haul on the 747 as Senior First Officer.   In 2008, he proudly gained his command and joined the Airbus fleet as Captain.  He passed away in 2012 from terminal cancer.

His long-standing flying friend Gary Merchant, a Captain with Easyjet, who has followed a similar career path, explained the background to the original legacy.

“When Nick became terminally ill in 2011, he discussed with me the terms of his Will.    He wanted a positive action for the benefit of aviation to be created after his death.    The idea of a worthwhile scholarship for a deserving young person was born” he said.

“I accepted the responsibility to nominate the most suitable candidate from applications received.  The winner of the scholarship was to have proved by interview to be a highly motivated individual who had already shown initiative and commitment to an aviation career.  As all the flying training was to be at Biggin Hill Airport, the most likely candidates will be local – i.e. within a radius of 15 miles” said Gary Merchant.

Gary first met Nick when he joined the Surrey and Kent Flying Club in 1990 to learn to fly and Nick was his instructor. They became firm friends, Nick eventually convincing Gary to become a commercial pilot.

The first Nick Davidson Memorial Flying Scholar was John Harrison from Horsham in 2013 who gained his PPL in the summer of 2014. He is now planning to join the Royal Air Force.  The Davidson family generously awarded a second NDM Flying Scholarship which was awarded to Steven Inch after the highly competitive independent selection process.