Buckingham Covers - First Day Covers

Captain John Chorley


Captain Chorley was born in October 1934, and brought up in the village of Orsett in Essex. He was educated at Brentwood School, leaving in 1952. At school Captain Chorley was a member of the RAF Section of the School's Combined Cadet Force, and developed an interest in flying. He attended a couple of gliding courses, and was awarded a Flying Scholarship in 1952, leading to the granting of a Private Pilots Licence after learning to fly the Tiger Moth at Marshall's Airfield at Cambridge.

Shortly afterwards, in January 1953, he was called up for National Service in the RAF, and spent two years being trained as an "all weather fighter pilot" leaving with the rank of Flying Officer.

Captain Chorley joined BOAC in 1956. As was normal then he had to go through the lengthy training and qualifying as a Navigator. This was the transition period when specialist Navigating Officers, and Radio Officers were being phased out as technical advances were being made in flight deck technology. He then spent about two years navigating only, mainly on the Comet Fleet to the Far East, India and Australia.

Eventually, he became a pilot again, joining the Britannia 102 and 312 Fleets. This led to operating on the East, West, and South African routes, and on 312's to the United States and the Caribbean. It also led to meeting the delightful young Stewardess who became his wife in October 1962.

In 1964 he was posted to the VC10 Fleet flying on world-wide routes, slowly being promoted to Senior First Officer, and eventually in 1973 to Captain. Then in 1977 the big moment came with a posting to the new Concorde Fleet, and the extensive six month conversion course at Filton. Operating and handling Concorde was very different from previous passenger aircraft; the training was therefore extremely thorough.

A very interesting and enjoyable period followed with many first visits by Concorde to airports all over the World but mainly in the United States. It was amazing to see incredibly large crowds of enthusiasts coming to see the landings and take-offs. A pleasant three months was spent based in Singapore operating the joint British Airways/Singapore Airlines service via Bahrain to London. He was also fortunate to command three Round the World charters in the 1980s. In 1985 he flew the Colombo to Perth leg of Concorde's World Record flight from London to Sydney. 1986 saw a trip to Vancouver, shared with Brian Walpole, to take Margaret Thatcher to the Expo for the weekend. His duties on the fleet, other than flying very frequently to New York, Washington and Miami, included the post of Route Check Captain.

October 1989, when Captain Chorley reached retirement age, he said it appeared far too quickly.

After retiring from BA, he went privately to FlightSafety, Savannah, Georgia to qualify on the Gulfstream IV executive jet. He then had three interesting years flying Robert Maxwell, Mohammed al Tajir in Dubai and Mohammed Fayed in their private aircraft. He gave them one year each !