Geoff Nicholls RIP

It was only a few months ago that a number of club members joined Geoff, during the first lockdown, on Zoom to celebrate his 90th birthday.  It was great to see Geoff in such fine form so it came as a shock to hear he is no longer with us.

Geoff was one of the “founding fathers” of the club and passed on his passion for and joy of our sport to so many.  As an instructor he had the knack of getting whoever he flew with to achieve more than they thought they could.  As chairman he was instrumental in increasing the airfield from 20 acres to 70 acres enabling much higher launches and many more landing options.  Geoff also started the mid-week operation.

Sutton Bank 1988

Here are some memories from club members:-

Richard Dann

There are two stories I remember from when we first had the Bergfalke and took it to the Western Regionals at Nympsfield. Geoff and Jonathan alternated being P1 in the Bergfalke and flying EEF. There was a day when we when we were summoned to the competition director having submitted a landing certificate for the previous day signed by an I Wakeham of the Old School House, somewhere or other, the director had miss read this as I Wack ‘em and thought we were taking the piss.

There was another story from the same week where after a landout Geoff and his P2 were looking for the landowner. The garden of the farm house has a substantial hedge around. it but P2 noticed that the farmer and his wife were working on a full body sun tan (naturists). Geoff strode on regardless to ask for a landing certificate etc….

Chris Keating

Such very sad news.

Geoff was my pilot on my first flight at the club in 2000. An evening organised for my colleagues after I visited following a burglary.

I joined the club on retirement the following April. I was mainly a Wednesday flyer with Geoff instructing until I was encouraged to fly at weekends as well so other instructors could also appraise my progress.

I have fond memories of those Wednesdays and Geoff’s quiet but thorough instruction.

Stan Oram

There are two things I remember about Geoff. Both events when flying from the South end of the field and both in the Ka7. The first was when Geoff was testing my reaction to negative g. As we came down the downwind leg, on the Oxenwood side of the field, Geoff said, ‘Put the nose down’, ‘Farther’. Soon we are pointing at the stubble and Geoff says ‘Pull up. ‘Keep it going. We are now pointing at the sky and Geoff says ‘Push the stick forward’. After we’d gone over the top then sorted ourselves out and landed Geoff did a debrief. ‘You didn’t handle that negative g very well’ says Geoff, ‘Your hand flew up in front of your face and you were gasping’. ‘I was just trying to get the crap that flew up in front of me out of my eyes and my face’ says I having seen all this muck float up in front of me and then got a mouthfull as well both eyes. I learned the importance of keeping the gliders clean that day.

The other event was in exactly the same circuit  but we’d got very low.  Geoff takes over and lands diagonally across and half way up the strip, very narrow in those days, and heading towards a fence on the far side. That day I learned just how well Geoff could judge and handle the glider.

The other, non flying thing I remember was going over to Geoff’s farm and everywhere you looked there were little ‘Geoff mods’ just as he used to come up with extraordinary solutions to problems at the club. I can’t remember precisely what impressed me but I remember it was some arrangement to lift or fold the barn door as it was pulled open.

I’m pleased I met him again on one of his visits to the club,  probably a couple of years ago since it was not last year. His hair was by then pure white but his eyebrows were still just as bushy (if not more so!).

I flew quite a bit with Geoff and have nice memories of it.

On Geoff’s 90th Birthday the Brind Family shared these memories.

We just wanted to share some memories with you on your special day.  You were always very encouraging as we were learning to glide and Andrew remembers that you sent him solo in July 1987!  You were always working hard to improve things at the gliding club and we found a photo of when you were seeding the newly acquired field at the south  end of the airfield.

Rod Harris, Andy & Gillian, John Parsons, Mark Wooldridge, Ken Porter, Brian Greenaway, John Day, Adam Cumberlage, Geoff Grayer & Geoff Nicholls

You organised a great trip to Sutton Bank in October 1987 and introduced us to the delights of flying in Yorkshire.  We remember that we took one of the K7’s the weather improved and we both had our first solo aerotows there.  How we have all changed since then!  We still go most years as we love it up there!


About the Author: StephenO

Flies an LS3-17 (occasionally when not sitting in the back seat).
Promoter of gigs at ACE Space and presenter of Folk Ace on Kennet Radio.
How was it ever possible to fit in paid employment?

Leave a Reply

Shalbourne Gliding

Shalbourne Gliding