Captain Mike Bannister was Chief Concorde Pilot for British Airways. He was responsible for its Flight Operations, Technical Performance, Flight Crew training and Management together with developing and maintaining standards for flying crew on the airline's flagship supersonic fleet of seven Concorde aircraft. He is also responsible for the same functions on the Airbus, Boeing 737, 757 and 767 fleets, based at British Airways worldwide operational headquarters at London's Heathrow Airport.
Mike joined BOAC (British Airways' predecessor) in 1969 as a pilot and flight navigator on the VC10 (Vickers) fleet. He became the youngest pilot on the Concorde fleet in 1977, completing the first ever course for 'Line Flight Crew.' Over the following years Mike was a member of a number of government and industry policy groups dedicated to aviation safety and became a Concorde pilot instructor in 1986.
He became Assistant Training Manager and a Captain on British Airway's BAe1-11 fleet in 1989. He also served as Flight Crew Manager for that fleet and the 'high tech' A320 fleet. In 1990, he was appointed Flight Manager (Technical) for the BAe1 11 fleet. In 1992, he moved to the B757/767 fleet as departmental Manager Business Development & Communications and was named Head of Communications, Flight Operations in 1992. He was appointed the airline's Chief Concorde Pilot in 1995 and flew regularly as Captain on all of the aircraft's routes worldwide. In 2002 he was appointed General Manager for all of the airline's Airbus, Boeing 737, 757, 767 and Concorde aircraft. Concorde visited more than 250 destinations, 76 in the USA.
Mike graduated from the Ashton School, Dunstable, and the College of Air Training Hamble, having been awarded a Royal Air Force Flying Scholarship in 1966.
His Concorde 'firsts' are too numerous to list. Highlights include: landing the aircraft on inaugural visits to Oakland, Philadelphia, Denver, Dallas, Baltimore and Miami. He commanded the aircraft in June 1996 on the 50th Anniversary Fly Past of London Heathrow Airport, flying in formation with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows. He flew Concorde to New York on her 21st birthday on January 21st, 1997 and commanded Prime Minister, Tony Blair's State Visit to Denver for the G7 Summit meeting later that year. He flew Concorde over the Mall for the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations on June 4th 2002. Mike was the pilot for the last ever commercial Concorde flight on 24th October 2003 when 3 Concordes landed in succession at Heathrow, ending 27 years of supersonic operation.