Bert Gallagher 22/02/1915 – 26/03/2016


Today we say ‘bon voyege’ to a fallen hero. Yesterday Bert Gallagher, a remarkable man – and someone I was proud to call a friend, was laid to rest. Liz Sparrow delivered a brief, upbeat homily on behalf of all of us. Those of us who new Bert admired his kindly ways and generosity.

He went solo in a glider in his eighth decade and if he hadn’t been racing motor cycles in his youth, heaven knows what he could have achieved in gliding had he started 60 years earlier.

                                                             RIP Bert

Because I fly
I laugh more than other men
I look up an see more than they,
I know how the clouds feel,
What it’s like to have the blue in my lap,
to look down on birds,
to feel freedom in a thing called the stick…

Who but I can slice between God’s billowed legs,
and feel them laugh and crash with His step.
Who else has seen the unclimbed peaks?
The rainbow’s secret?
The real reason birds sing?
Because I fly,
I envy no man on earth.

Grover C. Norwood

About the Author: Colin

Flies gliders - repairs winches
Likes - 1024mb, brisk north winds, leek & potato soup
Dislikes - East winds, Newham


  1. StephenO

    Copied from Liz’s Facebook entry:-
    A very respectable number of club members attended for the simultaneously happy and sad task of saying a farewell to our dear friend Bert Gallagher.
    Bert first came to our notice when his daughter Sylvia bought him a trial lesson for his 80th birthday – apparently in a bid to stop him buying himself a motorbike! He landed with the grin that says ‘when can I take off again?’ and duly joined the club, going solo a couple of years later. New members may be surprised that this was a generation ago – and that Bert has flown with us for most of the interim although becoming rather frail after his 100th birthday. Some of you will have seen him either at the club for a birthday flight or on the BBC taking a centenarian driving challenge and beating his grandson in it…
    I would describe Bert as a joyful person – he had a real and enduring lust for life. He threw his all into everything he did. And he was very funny – a natural raconteur – always making a crack about something.
    We were lucky to know him, and we will miss him! RIP Bert.

  2. StephenO

    My favourite memory of Bert was when he attended a course we ran at the club. The week started with awful weather so we spent the time with me giving lectures on various topics. By the 3rd day I was fed-up with talking (and the others were undoubtedly fed-up with listening to me rabbit on) so even though cloud base was low I decided we could at least go and practice launch failures. With 2 vehicles dispatched to the glider on landing one moved the glider clear and the other took me back to the launch point to jump in the back seat of the next glider. In this way we achieved the highest launch rate there has ever been at the club. Part way up the launch with Bert in the front seat I was musing about whether we’d have a low or high launch failure this time, when suddenly the cable departed and Bert was dealing with the recovery procedure. It turned out that Bert pulled the release in anticipation. It remains the only time that a P2 has pulled the bung on me.
    I well remember his 90th birthday were he danced with every woman at the party (and it was a big party).
    It was a great honour to fly with him for his star role in the ITV (peak time) programme “100 Year Old Drivers Ride Again”. Only the second time I have flown with a 100 year old. It had been a few years since his last flight but when I handed control to him I was astonished at how well he flew. For those who missed the programme (or just simply would like to see Bert again) try this link!100+year+old+drivers+ride+again%22&view=detail&mid=A6C256EA4278A0CA45ACA6C256EA4278A0CA45AC&FORM=VIRE

    Bert, one of life’s real gentlemen and a Yorkshire man through and through – we will miss you

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Shalbourne Gliding

Shalbourne Gliding