Annual Dinner 16th February 2019

Saturday 16th February saw a slightly smaller number than usual attend this year’s Annual Dinner as just under thirty members enjoyed a five-course meal, three rounds of the traditional intercourse bingo and a most informative speech by member Chris Fairchild.
Chris left the school in 1975 and after a spell working in Foyle’s bookshop he joined the Civil Service from where, after a year at the MoD, he got a job at Southend Airport. After ten years he moved on to British Aerospace and then, in December 1990,
became a Flight Manager for heavy lift specialists Antonov Airlines.
Based at Stansted, Chris has the complex task of planning many of the specialist transportation contracts n which his company specialise. This
includes the bureaucracy of arranging all of the many permits required as well as the technical expertise and know-how to ensure that not only will a plane be able to lift the weight of the cargo and that the cargo will physically fit into the plane, but also that the plane will fit into the airports at either end of the journey!
Antonov Airlines is part of Ukranian company Antonov Design Bureau which designs all of it’s own planes and has built over 22,000 aircraft. These include such specialist heavy-lift models as the record-breaking AN-225 which can carry a staggering 250-tonne payload. When fully loaded the weight of the cargo and the airplane itself tops the scales at a massive 540 tonnes!
Somehow that all has to get off the ground and fly, burning fuel at something like 6,000 gallons per hour. No wonder that the engines only last for between 20 to 30 hours!
Some of the many specialist contracts on which Chris has worked has been the transportation of 6 x 140 ton generators from Chile to Bolivia (which involved six months of planning); flying a train to Zurich; and moving 599 pigs from Stansted to New York. Even aircraft need to be transported inside his planes and he has arranged the transportation of helicopters from France to Hong Kong, Rolls Royce engines  to Airbus in Toulouse and even the movement of entire aircraft fuselages and wings around the globe.
These huge leviathans of the air have been used for the serious business of supporting the US government in Afghanistan; the exciting business of transporting Taylor Swift’s international tour from Brisbane to Auckland to the USA; and the fun (and, no-doubt, games) of shipping live giraffes and dolphins around the world.
Chris clearly enjoys his job as was evidenced by the enthusiasm with which he spoke about his subject and the regard in which he holds the company for which he works. Hardly surprising if the $200,000 that he was given to take on his first trip just to pay for meals for the 18-strong crew is anything to go by!