Volunteer Terry is Flying High

Phil Wilcox

One day a week since April 2014, Terry Hayter, one of The Children Trust’s volunteer drivers, has been travelling from Kent to take some of our children in one of our fleet of minibuses to the Epsom-based Riding For The Disabled organisation. But that’s by no means the only string to his bow, as Phil Wilcox found out when he had a chat with him…

So, Terry, how did you get involved with The Children’s Trust?

I used to take part in a regular pub quiz. We were a very strong team and most weeks we ended up winning. Every time we won we would send the money to The Children’s Trust, but eventually I decided I wanted to do something more positive to help the organisation and someone suggested driving for them as a volunteer.
Terry stars in the above short video, featuring volunteers from The Children's Trust talking about their experience.

Is that your main skill?

By no means! I’m also a pilot and flight instructor; an Advanced Driving Instructor specialising in getting drivers through their Advanced Driving Test with the Institute of Advanced Motorists; and a qualified IT network engineer - which keeps me busy when I’m not flying or driving.

Phew! It’s a wonder you find time to fit us in. What would you say is the most satisfying aspect of volunteering for The Children’s Trust?

To have the opportunity to help children with disabilities. It’s so good to see a smile on their faces.

Tell me about your flying history

I’ve been flying for nearly 30 years. From a very early age I would look at the planes in the sky and say: “I’m going to fly one of those one of these days” and, to cut a long story short, through self-finance, I eventually obtained my flight instructor’s licence.

What’s been your best flight to date?

Seven years ago whilst I was in New York I visited White Plains (Westchester) Airport, just north of the city. Air Traffic Control approved me to fly down the Hudson River at 1500 feet. Air Traffic Control allowed me to fly twice around the Statue of Liberty and I took some amazing photos. Volunteer Terry's picture from his flyby of the Statue of Liberty
A picture from Terry's fly past of the Statue of Liberty in New York

In contrast, what has been the worst?

It was winter time, raining and low cloud and I was due to ferry a light aircraft from Biggin Hill Airport to Aberdeen Airport, a flight time of about five hours. I took off from Biggin at about 1300 hours, it was cold and bleak. After about three hours of flight I was four miles north of Newcastle Airport at flight level 45 (about 4,500 feet) when it all went silent. I had total engine failure. It was dark outside and I immediately put out a Mayday call to Newcastle Air Traffic Control. They asked me if I could make the airport runway and they turned up the runway lights and gave me immediate clearance to make a glide approach. Fortunately from 4,500 feet at a range of four miles the glide was possible and I made it with 300 feet to spare. I got the aircraft repaired and eventually took off from Newcastle. With 20 miles to run to Aberdeen, the controls felt sluggish, it was minus 22c outside and I thought the aircraft controls were icing up. I shone a torch from the flight deck window onto the leading edge of the port wing and sure enough the aircraft was starting to pick up ice. As I descended on the approach it started snowing and this gave me very little forward visibility. However this meant that the ice I had been picking up was now flicking off the aircraft. At 400 feet I had the runway lights in sight and, thanks to The Aberdeen Radar Approach Controller who talked me down, I landed safely at about 2000 hours. I finally got the last British Airways flight to Heathrow and, using trains and cabs, got back to Biggin to pick up my car and finally fell into bed at 0200 the following morning exhausted!

Let’s lighten the mood. Any other favourite pastimes?

I enjoy cooking a great deal, I have a bookcase full of cookery books. I am particularly fond of preparing Chinese food and curries, and make my own sauces. I have been told that my meals are top chef quality, I’m not sure if I agree with that.

Who would be your ideal dinner guest?

Definitely Guy Gibson DFC DSO (of Dam Busters fame). I would not only have liked to have met him, I would love to have flown with him! Dam Buster Guy Gibson - Bolunteer Terry's hero
Guy Gibson, Terry's ideal dinner guest.
Picture credit: Robert Stead, Pinterest

Finally, how would you describe yourself in three words?

Three words are not enough. But I consider myself to be professional, thoughtful and caring. If I was allowed a fourth and fifth word I would say I’m kind and romantic – I love people. Thanks, Terry. Fascinating to talk to you. Find out more about volunteering for The Children's Trust.