Top Landing Gear

The UK's number 1 aviation podcast on iTunes -
with a pilot, a pop star, a presenter and a fencer

Previous Releases - Series 2

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Lockdown 'Three' Special‬

We’re now well in to 2021 so we thought it was high time we produced our first podcast of the year. And how timely, just as Boris announces the roadmap out of Lockdown, we’ve recorded a Lockdown Special with our favourite aviation-themed films, books, TV programmes, websites and podcasts which we hope will inspire you as you look to fill some of those dreary lockdown hours, days, nights, weeks. I know. It’s almost over. We should have done this ages ago. But we didn’t. Sorry. This edition has all the usual nonsense, including a really uplifting Ask James about how the pandemic is affecting aviation now and going forward. Even Jez’s Quick Facts struggle to raise much of a smile. But they are good. And quick … ish. But as ever, the real joy explodes with The Quiz! Fun, laughter, high quality competition are just three of the things we really wish we could have achieved

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Series 2 Episode 6 Full Flaps
Red 1 - Squadron Leader Tom Bould - The new Team Leader for the Red Arrows‪.


We're ending 2020 and Series 2 with a real highlight. A Full Flaps interview with the brand new Red 1 - Team leader for the mighty Red Arrows - Squadron Leader Tom Bould. As Team Leader, Tom is primarily responsible for all aspects of the display, from running the training programme to choreographing the show. He leads the nine-aircraft aerobatic display. Re-joining the Red Arrows, the 2021 season will be his first year as Red 1 and Team Leader. Huge thanks to Tom and mighty Red Arrows for this interview. We can't wait to see them in 2021 when things get back to normal.

Series 2 Episode 6b - Ask James Christmas Special PART TWO!

Welcome to part two of our ‘Ask James’ Christmas Special, where our aviation expert James Cartner endeavours to answer at least some of the wonderful questions our listeners have sent in. (You’ve sent in so many great questions we’ll do some more in the New Year.) And if you did send one in, stay tuned as we’ll announce who’s won the prize for the best question as judged by us.We hit a spectacularly low point with our aviation themed Christmas cracker ‘jokes’, and presents are handed out to one and all… well to everyone apart from Rob who did the handing out. But to be honest he does look more like Father Christmas than any of the others. And of course the pod comes to a scintillating climax with the Top Landing Gear Christmas Quiz!

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Top Landing Gear Special - BA LAndor 747-400 To Dunsfold



On Saturday 5th December 2020, retired BA Boeing 747-400 G-BNLY made its final flight from Cardiff to Dunsfold aerodrome in Surrey. This aircraft was destined for the scrapheap, but because it is one of BA’s ‘retro jets’, Lima Yankee is painted in the iconic Landor livery, there was an enthusiastic campaign, which Top Landing Gear signed up to, to save it. Then the excellent news reached us that Mike Woodley of Aviation Filming at Dunsfold, had taken ownership. Mike kindly invited Top Landing Gear to be present on this auspicious occasion, where we caught up with BA 747 pilot Mags Sefari who was on the crew that delivered her that day, and a couple for whom Lima Yankee holds a particularly special place in their hearts. 

Series 2 Episode 6a
Ask James Christmas Special 
PART ONE‪!

Seasons Greetings, and welcome to the first of our Top Landing Gear Christmas Specials! James will be taking centre stage answering the many excellent questions our listeners have sent in, as well as some of our own. What James doesn’t know about aviation could be written on a piece of paper stretching from the earth to the moon and back, and back again. But he sounds convincing and we believe everything he says. Jez’s Quick Facts about James sound more like a wedding speechand as always the undoubted highlight of the podcast is our Christmas themed quiz,

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Series 2 Episode 5 Full Flaps
AVM Graham Williams (Retd)


As an RAF fast jet pilot during the height of the Cold War, and also a test pilot (as a result of which he has flown almost every western cold war jet imaginable) this Full Flaps guest is our most senior member of themilitary that we have interviewed to date - Air Vice Marshal Graham Williams. He commanded a Harrier Sqn, an RAF Base and was heavily involved in selecting much of the RAF's current capability as Air Officer in charge of procurement in the late 1980s. His stories filled us all with admiration - this is another cracking interview!

Series 2 Episode 5
An RAF Fighter Pilots life during the Cold War

This edition of the Top Landing Gear podcast has an appropriately seasonal feel as we approach winter, its theme being the Cold War, which lasted from 1947 until 1991. The Cold War saw the rapid development of aviation beginning with concepts such as new wing designs and powerplants and ending with digitalised avionics and stealth technology. All this to gain the upper hand in the event of a hot war.Our guest was an RAF fast jet pilot during the height of the Cold War, and was also a test pilot, as a result of which he has flown almost every western cold war jet imaginable. He is Air Vice Marshal (retired) Graham Williamson, the most senior person by rank that we’ve ever had on the pod. His is a fascinating story, which he reflects on with great humour here and in his wonderfully entertaining and enlightening book ‘Rhapsody In Blue".

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Series 2 Episode 4 Full Flaps Special
Rolf Richardson - VC10 Pilot in the Daily Mail
Transatlantic Air Race


Pilot, writer, photographer and traveller, Rolf Richardson is our very special guest for this very special Full Flaps edition of Top Landing Gear. Rolf was a pilot in the Daily Mail Great Transatlantic Air Race, flying the mighty VC10 on the leg that took his brother-in-law - Peter Hammond towards a winning time in the sub-sonic category. In our podcast Rolf tells us how he came to be there, his impressive flying history and about what he's been doing since the amazing days of the air race!

Series 2 Episode 4 - Full Flaps
Lt Cdr Peter Goddard RN - Winner of the Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race

This week's FULL FLAPS unedited interview is with the WINNER of the 1969 Daily Mail Air Race - Lieutenant Commander Peter Goddard. He tells us about his career in the Royal Navy and how he managed to get from the top of the Empire State Building to the top of the Post Office Tower in London (now the BT Tower) in 5hrs and 11 mins. Once you have listened to the Podcast search 'The First and the Fastest' on Youtube for a wonderful 20 minute documentary of the race from 1969. You will not be disappointed!

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Series 2 Episode 4
The Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race


This week we’re turning the clock back to 1969, a hugely significant year for aviation and aerospace, but it was also the year of the Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race, probably one of the last great aviation adventures. The race was between the top of the Post Office Tower in London (now the BT Tower), and the top of the Empire State building in New York, in either direction. The fastest crossing of all was achieved by an Observer in a Royal Navy Phantom, and he is our very special guest. Lieutenant Commander Peter Goddard’. Also all our usual features: Ask James, Jez’s Quick Facts - all about the Air Race, and of course the highlight of every episode – The Top Landing Gear Quiz.

Series 2 Episode 3 - Full Flaps
Rowland White - Author of "Harrier 809"

We talk to Aviation author and expert Rowland White.His fantastic new book ‘Harrier 809’ is out now, and tells the untold story of 809 Squadron and the Falklands War. Combining groundbreaking research with the pace of a thriller, Rowland White reveals the full story of the fleet's knife-edge fight for survival for the first time, and shows how the little jump jet went from airshow novelty to sealing its reputation as an icon of British aviation, alongside the Spitfire and the Hurricane. It is available in hardback, ebook and audiobook. www.rowlandwhite.com

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Series 2 Episode 3
The Sea Harrier


The British Aerospace Sea Harrier is one of the most iconic and most loved of all British aircraft. Entering service with the Royal Navy in 1980, the informally know ‘SHAR’ vertically took off into our hearts after its success in the Falklands conflict, where three squadrons of just 28 SHARS shot down 20 Argentine aircraft whilst defending the fleet and supporting the ground invasion.

In this episode we talk to Aviation author and expert Rowland White. His fantastic new book ‘Harrier 809’ is out now, tells the untold story of 809 Squadron and the Falklands War.

Series 2 Episode 2
FULL FLAPS - Interview with 747 pilot,
Captain David Williams

Here is our extended interview with David Williams, a Captain with Virgin Atlantic, who in 2014 was involved in a major incident when the 747-400 he was flying developed a systems failure resulting in only part of the landing gear locking down. David tells us in jaw-dropping detail how he fllew some extreme manoeuvres to rectify the problem and how he eventually nursed the aircraft back to Gatwick... what outcome awaited him, his crew and 447 passengers, one of whom was his own daughter. It’s a riveting account, never before told in such detail.

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Series 2 Episode 2
Boeing 747 - The Queen of The Skies - The Jumbo Jet


The Boeing 747 ‘Jumbo Jet’ changed the face of air travel forever. But after 50 years of impeccable service the ‘Queen of The Skies’ is being hastily retired in favour of more economical jets. The 747 won the hearts of those who flew it and of its passengers, and there is universal sadness at its passing. Top Landing Gear pays tribute to this magnificent aircraft.
Our guest is David Williams, a Captain with Virgin Atlantic, who in 2014 was involved in a major incident when the 747-400 he was flying developed an unprecedented systems failure.

Series 2 Episode 1 - Full Flaps
Interview with Dilip Sarkar MBE

Having been fascinated by the Second World War for a lifetime, Dilip Sarkar has been prolific in writing works focused on the Battle of Britain - particularly the human element of the stories. He has become one of the World's authorities on this moment of history.
Having written over 30 books on the subject and being honoured with an MBE for services to Aviation History it was said by Battle of Britain fighter ‘ace’ Wg Cdr George Unwin DSO DFM, ‘If you want to know anything about the Battle of Britain and the Few, don’t ask us, ask Dilip!

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Series 2 Episode 1 - The Battle of Britain


Top Landing Gear is back with series 2, kicking off with a momentous moment in history – The Battle of Britain. 2020 marks its 80th anniversary - the Battle of Britain not Top Landing Gear - and if there are any gaps in your BoB knowledge, then Jez’s ‘quick’ facts will fill in every detail. We’re delighted the aviation historian and Battle of Britain specialist Dilip Sarkar MBE has agreed to be our special guest; he’s written more about the Battle of Britain than any other person through first-hand accounts forged by his own friendships with ‘The Few’. We will also hear from some of those heroic pilots in person, including a Luftwaffe ME109 pilot.

Series 1

Series 1 Episode 6 - Summer Special

What can we say? We missed you... And just couldn't wait for the start of Series Two before we talked again. So we got together to discuss recent aviation events including Virgin Galactic's plans for a new Mach 3 supersonic aircraft, the horrific 737-800 crash in Kerala and what we have planned for the Autumn... AND... No quiz!

Huge thanks to everyone who has listened and supported us this year. We have been astonished at the numbers of downloads this summer. See you in September for our Battle of Britain special.

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Series 1 Episode 5 - Full Flaps - Interview with Flt Lt Alan Pollock


This week's special guest created his own legendary moment in April 1968, when he flew his Hawker Hunter fighter jet through Tower Bridge in London. Flt Lt Alan Pollock of No1 Sqn was incensed with defence cuts and that, the RAF was denied a flypast to mark its 50th anniversary. So Pollock decided to let the Government know how he, and many others felt, by buzzing Westminster before heading off down the Thames at about 400 mph. It’s an extraordinary story, and his various capers during his time with the RAF are the stuff of legend. Needless to say Alan is a most engaging character.

 Series 1 Episode 5 - Audacious Aviation & The Hawker Hunter

This episode sees us diususs some of history's most audatious aviation stunts. We will be looking at our own favourite daring flights and be concentrating on Flt Lt Alan Pollock's flight over London and through Tower Bridge in 1968. We wil also chat about the Hawker Hunter - the beautiful aircraft that Flt Lt Pollock was flying when he 'shot the bridge' - and we'll hear from the man himself in excerpts from our full interview - coming soon!

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Series 1 Episode 4 Full Flaps - Interview with Ex Red Arrow Sqn Ldr Dave Thomas -
Parts One and Deaux


We chat to Ex Red Arrow, Sqn Ldr Dave Thomas. Dave joined the Reds in 2001 as Red 2, he then progressed to Synchro Pair and then finally Synchro Lead in the 2004 Season Dave progressed through the RAF from Airman to Pilot and joined the Reds from the Harrier Force in 2001. In our interview he chats to the Top Landing Gear team about a tour with the Red Arrows - including selection, the work up, displays, World tours, what happens when things go off plan and finally leaving the team after his final display. The interview is so compelling we have split it into two parts.

Series 1 Episode 4 - The Red Arrows

In Episode Four of Top Landing Gear we feature the top national aerobatic team in the world (well we think so anyway...) The Red Arrows. We discus their history, what the Reds mean to us and what Red Arrows shows we particulary remember. We' are joined by former synchro pair leader Squadron Leader Dave Thomas who talks about his time with the Reds. - His full (flaps) interview features next week.

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Series 1 Episode 3 Full Flaps - Interview with Major George 'Smokey" Bacon MBE - Display pilot and Airshow organiser & commentator


We are delighted to have with us this week a man who certainly knows his way around an airshow. Not only is he a display pilot with the Army Air Corp Historic Flight and Chairman of the Historic Aircraft Flight he is also CEO of the British Airshow Display Association AND The Voice of numerous airshows up and down the county. With over 4000 hours on more than 20 different aircraft the Top Landing Team chat with airshow legend George 'Smokey' Bacon.

Series 1 Episode 3 - The Great British Airshow

Top Landing Gear discuss all things Airshows - despite current lockdown restrictions the team are really keen to visit an airshow - so we discuss all the aspects of putting a show together, the teams who participate and which airshow moments really stand-out! We will 'Ask James' if he has ever taken part in an airshow and the quiz is a cornucopia of airshow intrigue. We will also lookforward to our interview with historic flight team pilot and Chief Exec of the British Air Display Association - George 'Smokey' Bacon.

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S Series 1 Episode 2 Full Flaps -
Amanda J Harrison


Last year Amanda set out to retrace Amy’s epic journey in her De Havilland Tiger Moth. But Amanda’s story is about far more than taking on one of aviation’s greatest challenges. She has severe dyslexia, and a couple of years ago following the death of her father, Amanda was diagnosed with breast cancer; both life changing events occurring in a cruelly short space of time. She decided that life was there to be lived, and that’s when she planned her epic flight. Amanda’s story will delight, enthral and uplift you. Hear her interview in full on Top Landing Gear, and be truly inspired.

Series 1 Episode 2 - Amy Johnson

This week’s edition of TLG goes back in time 90 years to explore the story of one of the great aviation pioneers. Join Rob, Roy, James and Jez for a look at the incredible Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo, and we mean solo, to Australia. We find out about her aircraft the tiny Gipsy Moth, how she got into aviation and the remarkable tale of her journey from Croydon, South London to Darwin, Northern Australia. Discover the "Amy Wave" and why Roy has one, what Amy did during the war and the story of her mysterious demise.

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Series 1 Episode 1 Full Flaps - Jim Schofield


The TLG team chat to Ex RAF test pilot Jim Schofield who is now Chief Pilot at the Boultbee Flight Academy - providing Spitfire flights and training from their base Goodwood Aerodrome. Jim discusses what its like to operate the Spitfire, its advantages and its vices. He discusses which mark he considers the best and who would win in a fight between different variants. We also hear a little about some of the other 100 aircraft types Jim has flown.

Top Landing Gear :
Series 1 Episode 1 - Spitfire


Join the team as we discuss this icon of the air. We look at some fascinating Spitfire facts, there's an illuminating Spitfire quiz and our panellist Jez talks about his flight in one of these beautiful aircraft. We also discuss pilots sleeping - will James stay awake long enough to answer questions in the quiz? Listen and find out! 

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Top Landing Gear Full Flaps:
Pilot Episode - Concorde


We chat to ex-Concorde Captain John Hutchinson about life flying the supersonic airliner. Listen in as he discusses what it was like to fly, how it actually flew and some hilarious stories of his celebrity passengers. John also talks about landing a Boeing 707 on fire into Heathrow in 1968.

Top Landing Gear: The Pilot Edisode - Concorde

In our very first Episode we introduce our presenting team and then discuss the World's only supersonic passenger aircraft - Concorde. We look at how Rob turned down the chance to fly in it, how James knows very little about it and we listen as Jez recalls some completely incorrect facts before Roy tells us a flying related story about one of his worst ever dates with a young lady...

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