Arthur Marshall: A hundred years of flying high

From a lecture by the Life President of the Marshall Group at London's Royal Aeronautical Society
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The Independent Online

I was born on 4 December 1903, but unfortunately was not able to be present at the Wright brothers' two aeroplane flights 13 days later! In the years leading up to my learning to fly in 1928, I worked with my father to extend the motoring company he had founded into the aircraft industry. We opened a flying training school at Cambridge in October 1929.

Our training scheme resulted in many more pilots being available for the Battle of Britain than there otherwise would have been. The Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding often lamented in times of great stress, "If only I had 200 more pilots." Without Marshall's scheme he would have had more than 200 fewer pilots.

At the end of the war, there were major cancellations and redundancies but we were lucky to have major contracts with de Havilland for Mosquitoes and the early jet-engined Vampire and Venom aircraft.

Our company has been fortunate to have been in the position of providing exceptional support to the country in times of war and national emergencies. In 1982, two weeks into the Falklands campaign, we received a phone call instructing us to provide the C-130 Hercules with an in-flight refuelling capability. These had a major impact on the course and final outcome of the conflict.

In recent years we have undertaken major programmes of work for a number airlines, including British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa. The major contracts we had during the war and post-war periods have resulted in Marshall's becoming the world's largest aircraft maintenance and repair centre for a wide range of aircraft. We have been involved in the development of flying training and aircraft maintenance engineering for three-quarters of the 100 years of aircraft flight.