Tuesday 3 December 2013

Britain is still a country and its skies a space for the world's oldest wing walker, Tom Lakey

Born in 1920 and 93 years old, Tom, is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as 'The Oldest Aeroplane Wing Walker in the World' and if he had looked up into the sky all those years ago, when he was perhaps a seven year old boy, he might have seen this brand new 1927 biplane. Seventy five years later, as an old man, he would fly on biplane wings.

What you possibly didn't know about Tom, that he : 

* served a sky apprenticeship as a young man when he worked as a builder, often high up on roofs and with no fear of heights and many years later took up flying in his 80s, after the death of his wife, Isabel, made him decide he needed a new focus in life.

* performed his first 'loop the loop', after the encouragement of his flying instructor and imagining his wife was watching him, wanted to prove to her that he could do it and before long, had worked his way through every aerobatic stunt.

*  when the chief flight instructor suggested 'wing walking', admitted that 'he had never heard of it .'

* said after his first walk : " I'll admit to some nerves on that first walk, but the fear was nothing compared with the excitement. On top of the plane, I was strapped against an upright frame with a little seat I could just about perch on, but in a standing position. As I heard the engine firing up, the adrenaline washed through me."

* also said : "I've heard the experience being described as like sticking your head out of the sunroof in a fast-moving car, but of course it's far more extreme. I was travelling at 80 miles an hour, the wind buffeting my whole body, my face fully exposed to the elements. Below me were patchwork fields. I couldn't have been happier, and over the next few years I chased that feeling again and again."

* first entered the record book at the age of 85, for being the 'Oldest Person to be on top of an Aircraft While it Looped the Loop 'and said : "I remember the sensation of my stomach dropping into my boots as the plane went into a dive, then looking up and thinking, "What are those cows doing up there?" The plane was travelling at more than 100 miles an hour during the descent and the G-force is tremendous; my son is in the RAF and says he has known pilots a third of my age black out at a force of 2G, and I've approached 6G. My doctors don't understand it. By rights, I suppose I should be dead."

* at the age of  89, landed safely near Dover, after wing walking for 45 minutes in a flight from Calais and set the world record for the 'Oldest Wing Walker' and said :“They usually take about ten or 12 minutes but this was nearly an hour. It was pretty uncomfortable and it was very cold. I was wearing a leather jacket over a lying suit over layers of clothes underneath but I was still cold.”
* also said : "When we landed  there were 94,000 people there. I met the French pilot who was recreating the Bleriot flight and I met the Prince of Wales Regiment freefall team who wanted me to take the salute. That was one of the greatest experiences in my life."

Pride of Britain Awards 2011: Elle Macpherson and Tom Lackey (Pic: DM)* in 2011, at the age of 91, won the 'Pride of Britain Award' after helping to raise more than £1million for charity by his wing walking and when asked :
"who out of his hundreds of new female admirers at the awards he had his eye on ?" replied: "All of them. At my age you don't mess

* in August this year landed safely at City of Derry Airport after wing walking for 91 minutes over the Irish Sea from Castle Kennedy Airport, and said :  "It took an hour and a half, and was freezing – at one point there was sleet, which whipped into my face like arrows, but I thawed out once we'd touched down and the feeling of exhilaration was tremendous."

"When I'm up in the sky I mainly think of my wife. I always carry a photo of her, I think of her and try to think what she would think of me."

Tom in his own words :

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