OBITUARIES Christopher Orlebar – 4th February 1945-24th February 2018

often seen in the privileged ‘Classics only’ car park at Brooklands. He looked up at me from his wheelchair and his wonderful sense of humour shone from his wretched body as he explained that he was now “too wobbly” to take it on the road safely. He was however able to get it in and out of the garage OK by moderating the fuel flow via the choke control! This was one small example of how Chris


fought on in his battle with Parkinson’s, deter- mined to get the most out of every day that he had been blessed with. He was an inspiration to us all. Last year I was truly honoured when Chris

asked me to support him at a Concorde event at Filton. He feared he might not be well enough to entertain the 500 people who had paid £100 a head to dine under Concorde and be entertained by the legendary author of The Concorde Story. Captain John Eames, former Concorde pilot and volunteer simulator Captain at Brooklands, made up the trio of entertainers, but without doubt Chris was the star of the show. He received the most wonderful welcome as he took to the stage and regaled the crowd with his wonderful stories. Even after a two-hour journey each way and a six-hour event he was still ‘full of beans’ when we dropped him home at nearly 2.00am. His son Edward recently wrote ‘That was his last big event and in many ways his best’. After the most competitive selection process,

Chris went to the College of Air Training at Hamble in 1967, winning the Principal’s Prize when he graduated two years later. He made many lifelong friends at Hamble and four of them shared a bungalow in Chertsey when they started their careers at BOAC. They enjoyed their leisure time paddling Chris’s canoe on the nearby Thames. That canoe still hangs in his garage and daughter Caroline managed to take Chris ‘for a paddle’ in it just last summer, another example of him living life to the full and not letting his illness hold him back. Chris joined BOAC on the VC10 fleet, another

Brooklands link, initially as a Navigator, before moving to the right-hand seat as a First Officer. Concorde entered commercial service in January 1976. We didn’t know it at the time, but


ust a few months ago I asked Christopher if he still had his lovely blue MGB GT that was


Christopher Orlebar with John Tye’s grandson Harvey.

Chris and I were at different ends of the same runway taking our own historic photographs. Whilst I had to rush back to school once the sound of the Olympus engines had faded, Chris joined the Concorde training course and loved every minute he flew the aeroplane for the next 10 years. He gained his command on the Boeing 737

fleet with British Airways in 1985 and by then had received great acclaim for his best seller The Concorde Story, commissioned by British Airways (available in the Brooklands Shop in both large (A4) and small editions (A5)). On his short flights around Europe his announcements to the passengers became things of legend, managing to include stories about Concorde, and he was often found in the cabin selling his book – rumour had it that the most valuable copies were the unsigned ones! Chris was passionate about Concorde all his

life. His knowledge knew no bounds. At the end of my Brooklands Trust Members’ talk a couple of years ago Chris’s hand went up when I opened the room to questions. I wondered what on earth I could possibly know that he might enquire about but, thankfully, he simply sought my opinion on something or other. Christopher was the quintessential English

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