Derrick was a farmer in Buckinghamshire in 1984 when he was approached by the local microlight club to ask if they could use his field. His immediate answer in the affirmative shocked the members of this very new entrant to the world of aviation, and the fact that the airfield at Plaistows is still very active today is testament to his ‘can-do’ attitude.
Derrick became intrigued by the sport and learned to fly the first UK-approved flexwing microlight, the Puma Sprint, followed, among others, by an all-black Shadow. The black Shadow was to be seen all over the country in the 1980s, and Derrick’s previous experience with two-stroke engines through karting gave him valuable expertise which he happily shared with other microlighters.
In 1994 Derrick allowed a flying school to start operating from the airfield. With this came a constant stream of students and onlookers, all of whom Derrick was only too pleased to chat to and expound the virtues of aviation to them. Plaistows went from strength to strength and over the years has become a well-respected airfield on the map. Included in its residents are Brian Milton, the first person to fly around the world in a microlight and two World Microlight Champions.
There are now just over 50 Aircraft based at Plaistows and a thriving flying school (whose two instructors are the current World Champions) with over 40 students. Plaistows is what it is today due to Derrick’s unending motivation and continued support. Approaching 85 Derrick still flies his Banbi as often as he can, inspiring all who know him.