Here is an inspiring story by one of our former regulars, Steve Randal, about an truly remarkable man. Thank you Steve for sharing this incredible story.
It’s the middle of 1995, almost 6 years B.I. (before iPod!). Take That are at number one and Stephen Hendry was just about to make the first televised 147 snooker break. These were exciting times indeed!
I’d soloed at Southampton Airport a few years earlier and finally saved up enough money to finish my PPL. A wrong turn, fate perhaps, had led me to Old Sarum Airfield and it seemed to be a very friendly and relaxed place. Making one of those on the spot decisions, I decided to book some lessons before grabbing a cup of tea and sitting quietly on a bench outside the clubhouse. As I watched people flying circuits, excited that I’d be joining them soon, a jolly man came over and introduced himself. His name was Larry Bax. Within a few minutes, we were walking over to his Bulldog for a local flight. I beamed; this never happened at Southampton!
That first introduction started a friendship that lasted until Larry passed away last month. I think it must’ve been his infectious laugh that grabbed most people who came into contact with our cheeky, wheeler-dealer, gin-drinking jokester whose terrible aerobatics would’ve made David Scouller vomit! I was privileged enough to see another side of Larry. My lifelong dream was to become an airline pilot. Many barriers were placed in my way and Larry watched my progress and setbacks closely. At a time when I was ready to throw in the towel, frustrated by CAA bureaucracy that had left me penniless, Larry was there to give me a good kick in the bum and keep me focused. Unsolicited and without any fanfare, he casually handed me a lifeline (in the form of a small cheque) and the use of his aeroplane to keep me in the air. He said two things, “pay me back when you can” and “when you are rich & famous, make sure you share it around!” I’ll never forget that act of incredible kindness and generosity.
Today, because of Larry, I sit in the front left seat of an Airbus A320, living and working in America. One downside, to an otherwise dream job, is how tricky it is to get time off at short notice, especially enough time to fly to England, spend some time and fly back again. The last time I saw Larry was during a trip to ‘jolly old England’ with my wife and her parents. Larry offered us a place to stay and fed us his specialty: butter-drenched, ketchup sopping, bacon butty’s! My job prevented me from making it to Larry’s memorial service. However, I was glad I got to honour him just a month before he died. Friends living on the small island of Bainbridge, west of Seattle, were enthusiastic to open a local wine bar. However, they underestimated the cost of bureaucracy and fell on tough times, which threatened to end their dream. I’m far from Larry’s description of ‘rich & famous’ but I remembered his request to ‘share it around’, just as he did for me. I was able to give them a small cheque to keep the project going and the bar is due to open for business next month. My only request to them was to place a plaque above the bar that simply read ‘Thanks Larry’.
Thanks Larry, I’ll miss you.