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The Pilot

Steve started flying in 1993 when he qualified for an FAA licence at Montgomery Field (MYF), San Diego CA in the worst winter weather for over a decade - in just over two weeks intensive training

San Diego was selected for its busy TCA, and MYF for being right next to the real world 'Top Gun' base at Miramar - and the day before his return to England, there was success!

But this was not without adventure - the final flight was a long solo cross country over the mountains to Arizona. Low cloud on the seaward side of the mountains meant a sinuous flight through a pass following the interstate hearing other traffic VFR on-the-top whilst below the fledgling aviator was passing though sleet showers wondering if a turn-back would be needed.

Once over the mountains the flight went well until the storms arrived, right along the intended route. Not being one to abandon a flight, creative thinking came into play flying from airport to airport clocking up the required cross country miles until the weather cleared for the mountain crossing and return at dusk into San Diego. Coasting down from over 12000 ft to sea level in a C152 towards the setting sun was a memorable experience which set the scene for later flight adventures.

The experience of getting a New Zealand license was equally memorable. Since the weather in NZ is unpredictable and the mountains so threatening, the NZ CAA insists on additional training, almost to IFR standards, for anyone with a FAA license. But what an experience - flying in NZ, and particularly around the South Island is truly spectacular. Yet more flying adventures - and at only 60 hrs flight time

steve wood



Even then flying had to take second place to business and a five year non-flying period ensued. In 1999 a refresher course at Daytona Beach was again selected for the challenging ultra-busy flight environment.

Being determined to finish the aircraft build meant little flying took place until 2001 when a holiday home lured Steve and his wife Belinda to Spruce Creek Fly-in. Now with over 750 hrs flight time in over 45 different types of aircraft, in February 2005 Steve achieved an IFR rating in 'GOOFY' to add to his complex and high performance sign-offs.

Medical problems (a kidney stone) meant no UK pilot medical so all thoughts of flying were vanquished back in 1966. It was only by chance that in 1993 there was the realization that an FAA medical might be possible even with the kidney stone history. So the possibility of a professional flying career was lost. Still, a professional career did ensue, but as a surveyor. To the extent of being elected a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors at the youngest possible age of 30.

However, Steve has not only enjoyed flying but has put much effort into voluntary work associated with aviation.

Firstly in 1991 he set up Heli-Aid to pressure the UK government and ambulance services into establishing a widespread HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Services) system throughout the UK. The background support of HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duke of Gloucester, and a presentation at the ambulance service convention resulted in the development of HEMS operations in most ambulance service areas - a good success!

In 1998 GreenHawk Trust was established, personally financed and organized by Steve, as a UK Charitable Trust with the aim of providing free Young Eagles flights to disabled, disadvantaged and life limited children. This opened doors to some interesting events and well over 1000 children were flown in the three years before Steve (and 'GOOFY') went to live half the year in Florida. Even now the flights continue - for example at the RAF Cosford air show preview day on 10 June 2005 when Polly Vacher, the record setting aviatrix, joined in flying special needs children from Penn Hall School, Wolverhampton in a fun filled day. Steve is now fully supporting Polly Vacher's passion of Flying Scholarships for the Disabled and its Royal International Air Tatto links.

Steve also founded EAA Chapter 1168 in the UK and was President for the first two years. More recently he has been Young Eagles coordinator of EAA Chapter 288 at Daytona Beach, FL since 2002.