Flying Rotarians celebrate Christmas on both sides of the world

Flying Rotarians have been celebrating the festive season around the world this month with the Hong Kong and UK sections both having fun Christmas get-togethers.

Hong Kong AGM and Dinner

On Monday 12 December, members of the Hong Kong Squadron combined their Annual General Meeting with their Christmas party, held in Grand Ballroom 1 of the Alexandra Hotel, Hong Kong.  It was my pleasure to join them once again by zoom.  The business was brief, with the high spot being the induction of two new members: numbers 99 and 100! So, congratulations to the Hong Kong section on being 100 members strong now.

Hogan Loh, a member of the Hong Kong Section who is also Past President of the Hong Kong Aviation Club then gave us an amazing talk. Hogan’s first flight was in the UK in a Chipmunk military trainer. He was given the chance to loop the loop resulting in a “Love at First Flight”. Soon after he got his licence, and with limited touring opportunities in Hong Kong, Hogan took up flying warbirds.  In a flying career of well over 40 years, he has now flown warbirds and fast jets, around the world, including flying RAF Tornadoes low-level through the valleys of the Lake District in the UK, and Russian jets that have taken him to the edge of space – high enough for the sky to be turning black around him!  And now Hogan is on the waiting list of SpaceShipTwo and hoping to become a true astronaut!

After that, it was time to let the festivities begin with a sumptuous meal and a great evening of fellowship.

Section Chair Eric leads the way with carving the Turkey!
Cheers! And Happy Christmas from Hong Kong

UK Section RAF Club Christmas Lunch

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, here in the UK, the UK Section Christmas Lunch at the Royal Air Force Club in London was fast approaching.  For the first time in many years the UK had had some serious snow before Christmas.  But neither the snow nor the national rail strikes which made getting to London that much harder could stop the lunch from going ahead.  Originally for UK members only, this annual fixture on the UK calendar now welcomes nearly as many members from European sections as it does from the UK. 

On Wednesday 14 December, approximately 50 Flying Rotarians and guests came together for the Christmas Lunch. We gathered at noon in the Churchill Bar for our drinks reception, before moving upstairs to dine in the Sovereigns’ Room.  After a traditional 3 course Christmas Lunch, and greetings from UK Section Chair Feroz, I put on my World President’s hat to induct Peter Greenyer into membership of the UK Section. 

We then enjoyed hearing from Neil Cloughley, CEO of Faradair Aerospace Ltd.  Neil, winner of the “Sir Michael Marshall Award for Sustainability in Aviation 2021” award, shared with us his thoughts on why the current regional aviation transport model needs to change, how unmanned aircraft are likely to have a key role to play here, and how the UK needs to be more forward looking in its financing of innovation funding. Exciting, challenging, perhaps controversial, but totally fascinating!

Many thanks once again to John and Diana Davy for all the arrangements for the lunch and for those staying at the RAF Club.

Many of our European guests took the opportunity to come to London for a few days for a pre-Christmas city-break, seeing the sights, doing their Christmas shopping and taking in shows.  Why don’t you plan on that for next year?

Benelux Section members, enjoying their city-break, head for an evening of ABBA after the lunch!

And so, another year of Flying Rotarians fellowship comes to an end.  But here’s to 2023: the UK section will be back at the RAF Club on Wednesday 13 December 2023!

PS – A cautionary tale for once-a-year pilots, as told at the Christmas lunch.

Just like any other pilot, the old guy with the long white beard and the red coat who only flies once a year needs to have his annual check flight.  I understand that this year the examiner arrived at Santa’s grotto earlier this month.

In preparation, Santa got his logbook out and made sure all his paperwork was in order. Then he watched as the examiner walked around the sled checking the reindeer harnesses, the landing gear, and making sure the red light on Rudolph’s nose was shining bright. He carefully reviewed Santa’s weight and balance calculations for the sled’s enormous payload, seeing as they would be at max all up weight.

Finally, they were ready for the check ride. Santa got in and fastened his seatbelt and shoulder harness. Then the examiner hopped in carrying, to Santa’s surprise, a shotgun.

What’s that for?” asked Santa.

The examiner winked and said, “I’m not supposed to tell you this ahead of time, as its an exam, but you’re gonna lose an engine on take-off.”

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