Sqn Ldr (ret'd) David Thomas
Sqn Ldr (ret'd) David Thomas was a pilot with the BBMF and piloted the Lancaster bomber.
This tribute to David's work with the Vulcan XH558 was written by Mike Pollitt when David retired from flying the Vulcan.
It is with regret that we have lost the services of one as talented as David Thomas. He is the ultimate professional pilot and approached each and every sortie with thorough planning and meticulous attention to detail. I am very pleased and grateful that he has agreed to remain with the Trust in a training capacity and I would dearly love to see him back in the cockpit in that capacity in the future. He is undoubtedly one of the finest flying instructors that I have had the pleasure to fly alongside. David has always said that he would like to finish flying before he felt that he was not capable of performing to his own exceptional standards. We all appreciate that up to the end of this season he still was flying the Vulcan exceptionally. What is probably less well known and appreciated by our members and supporters is the amount of time and effort that David has devoted to this project. He decided to train and refresh the aircrew prior to our expected return to flight 2 years ago. He produced Powerpoint slides to describe the way in which every system within the Vulcan performed and the actions to be taken in the event that the system was not performing as specified. He delivered his refresher course to the aircrew over the course of five days commencing early in the morning and finishing with a beer in the late afternoon - so you can just imagine how much many slides he produced and some of them were brilliantly animated to show clearly how a particular system worked. A truly impressive piece of work to reproduce effectively a modern equivalent of the Vulcan OCU training notes and visual aids.
Away from the cockpit and over many years he and his dear wife Pam have generated incredible money raising projects to raise funds for the Vulcan: the calendar of many years ago produced together with Charles Toop was immensely successful. The many DVDs David single-handedly produced and sold on behalf of this project. The recent Vulcan to the Pie cookbook was Pam?s idea and an idea pursued to a very successful conclusion. David has always been so very generous, not only to his friends but also to the many people that have helped to facilitate the Vulcan?s successful return to the display circuit. He commissioned a painting, this time from Mal Grosse, depicting the Vulcan in formation with the Lancaster at the Waddington airshow. David has had 250 prints of the painting produced and he is personally giving these prints to those people who have helped us this season ? for example Ops staff at RAF bases, Air Traffic personnel and Met staff ? a tremendously generous action and this is not the first time that he has done it.
It is in the cockpit though where his work is best appreciated. The wonderful Vulcan flying displays throughout three decades of Vulcan service during the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties inspired so many young people to become interested in aviation and for many of them to also become interested in an RAF career. So many times I have met serving RAF personnel and they have said to me that it was watching a Vulcan display that started me thinking about a flying career. They were unaware that they had probably been inspired by the brilliant flying of David Thomas. I bumped into a retired Vulcan pilot the other day, a chap well into his seventies and I mentioned David?s name and he said ? ?ah David yes, he really is Mr Vulcan?. David?s name is synonymous with the Vulcan and 558 in particular; when we think of her we think of him. David you will be sadly missed but I am so grateful that you were able to return your beloved Vulcan to the sky and to the display circuit. You have given your awe to this project and we wouldn?t have done it without you. Thank you to you and Pam, and may you have a very happy and long retirement.