Within the past few weeks, thanks to the wonders of social media, I have been in regular contact with Martin Oxborrow…..
Those of you familiar with the BBC TV series ‘Fighter Pilot’, and I know there are many of you, will recognise Martin’s name straight away.
Martin was one of the stars of that show, one of the candidates followed through the course of his flying training as he strived to achieve his dream of becoming a fast jet pilot in the Royal Air Force.
For many aviation folk of a certain generation, Fighter Pilot will always be remembered, as both a resource of information and for the insight and inspiration it delivered. It was the first time, I believe, that the Royal Air Force had allowed the cameras to ‘intrude’ in that way and, for a variety of reasons, it didn’t happen again for some time!
Martin didn’t make it to fast jets – his exit from the TV programme came when, although he passed his course on the Jet Provosts at RAF Linton on Ouse, he was recommended for multi-engine training.
He went on to have a hugely successful career as a Hercules pilot / captain, clocking up 3000 hours along with the way and seeing the globe as only a Truckie can!
Sadly though it didn’t end well, and Martin was medically discharged in 1997, having suffered badly from anxiety and panic attacks while flying HS125s from RAF Northolt.
His life, subsequently, has been something of a roller coaster and Martin continues to suffer from depression and has, thankfully successfully, battled cancer.
He is also fighting another battle – that to retain his benefits as a result of being unable to work. As he readily admits, he’s not a ‘march up and down Downing Street’ kind of guy, but he is doing much to campaign for that cause and to help other veterans who have found themselves in a similar situation.
Knowing the great interest in Fighter Pilot, it was naturally a huge pleasure to make contact with him, firstly in a virtual sense, and then via a number of very lengthy conversations on the phone! He’s a great guy, as I am sure anyone who worked with him will attest, and we share many interests and mutual contacts.
My initial thought was that a piece on the TV series would be of significant interest for Global Aviation Resource, of which I am The Editor, but it didn’t take long for me to realise that Martin’s great stories, both of a personal and of course aviation nature, deserved telling in full. As a result, I asked him if he had considered writing a book. He had, but had never done anything about it – wondering whether people would actually find it of interest.
Well, two weeks and a couple of emails later, Martin is now in touch with a major publisher, which has expressed a great interest in his story, and is now busy putting pen to paper (fingers to keyboard doesn’t sound right) to see if he can convert that interest in to a solid deal for a book which will tell the inside story of the BBC’s Fighter Pilot, as well as Martin’s own, very touching story, but one in which a myriad of brilliant flying tales will loom large!
Martin now says that ‘meeting’ me, and we are aiming to do that for real, ASAP, has made a real difference to his life. That was clearly never my intention, but if it is the case then I’m absolutely delighted to have helped him in some small way. What I do know is that he is still an inspirational character, just by virtue of all he has been through and, to some extent, is still going through, even though he’s not being shouted at by Mike Jamieson in a JP3 any more!
There’s even a story behind that episode incidentally and, suffice to say, the BBC was very clever when it came to editing footage together to ensure the best result for television – that’s how you get 5 / 6 million viewers per episode!
But, I won’t spoil the surprises, that’s for Martin to do in his his book. I just hope that everyone who remembers the series / book so fondly (or otherwise!) supports him in his endeavours and, if you knew him or flew with him, please do get in touch, I know he’d love to hear from you! Martin now has a blog and can also be found on Twitter, where he is building quite a following.
Until next time……….