British Sky Tours



Visitors from overseas invariably ask how we plan and set up a sky tour. We are very fortunate that we can draw on the knowledge and experience of some remarkable people. A surprising number are veterans of the great battles of World War Two. Others served in Korea, Cyprus, Malaya and Borneo, Northern Ireland, Vietnam, the South Atlantic, the Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan, plus major battles during wars between Middle Eastern and Asian countries.



As our Air Adviser Dick Nesbitt-Dufort covers everything from aviation history to pin-point navigation with split-second timing.

And as the pictures show, most recces' are flown in Dick's vintage Piper 22 fitted with the more powerful engine for a Tripacer. This allows us to take off and land from small grass strips rather than the full length tarmac runways required for the much larger, twin-engine aircraft employed on the actual sky tours. Although the Mayfair Dove, built for service with the Royal Air Force, can take off and land on grass airfields.

Every aspect of a tour route is thoroughly investigated - sometimes, as during the follow-up road recce' of Agincourt shown on the right, the weather resembles the day of the actual battle nearly 600 years ago! Luckily it's often more like the Channel Island of Alderney at bottom left and the Pointe du Hoc shown on the Home page. One of the most fascinating recce' flights was our birds-eye tour above Eastern England picking out the best preserved airfields that once throbbed to the engines of hundreds of B 17s and B 24s when the Mighty Eighth Air Force made those flat fields a chunk of America. Dick landed on a few airfields still operational for club flying until we found the most suitable for family tours. We look for safety, a good restaurant, clean and modern ' bathrooms ' and friendly, helpful people. 

Dick brings vast experience to the flying element of our tours because you have to understand how to read ground features from the air before you can explain them to somebody with no experience of flying in a combat zone. Any veteran who flew an LOH in Vietnam will know what we're trying to bring alive for our visitors.

Once on the ground, beyond the airfield, we pick only truly excellent restaurants and hotels though not always by stars or price. For this task, drawing on pooled years of diplomacy, military service and commercial flying, not to mention John Esmonde-White's long association with Normandy, we are also guided by our US agent, Barry Hyatt's enviable knowledge of where to breakfast, lunch, cocktail, dine and sleep in Europe.

The son of an RAF Wing Commander who flew secret agents into Occupied Europe, it's hardly surprising Dick became an Army helicopter pilot, soon proving himself exceptionally gifted at low-level flying. Dick flew operations from bases hidden deep in the Borneo jungle, inserting SAS patrols over the border, during confrontation with Indonesia. Later he served with the British UN contingent on the troubled island of Cyprus. A qualified helicopter instructor, Dick became a highly competent free-fall parachutist and a committee member of the Cyprus Combined Services Parachute Club.

After a serious road accident, many months in hospital, Dick had to find a new career and joined the British Civil Aviation Authority. Over a distinguished thirty years service Dick oversaw air safety for all UK registered helicopters and light aircraft and eventually held the senior appointments for both types. A highlight was the annual international air safety conference in Seattle with a trip to Alaska. More remarkable, ignoring severe injuries, Dick learnt how to fly again using hand controls and became the first paraplegic to hold a pilot's license in the United Kingdom. He had an ally - his Chairman was the famous tin-legs fighter pilot, Sir Douglas Bader!

Dick won the British Precision Flying Championship no less than three times and became a joint winner of the King's Cup Air Race - a feat which he declines to repeat because it would wear out the engine on his small plane! He is a member of the British Precision Flying Team and has competed in Poland, South Africa and France. He is also studying for a Masters in archaeology, writes books and was chairman of a small publishing company, Whydown Books.

Dick is married to Mary and they live in Sussex. Mary is an expert at breeding the rare Suffolk sheep, also a keen horsewoman and landscape gardener.