Douglas Schofield is an aviation consultant and conference organiser who began his career as a wartime aviator before selling the Lockheed C-130 and early corporate jets. He is still involved in running events
How did you start in aviation?
I was in the UK Royal Air Force, initially as a pilot and graduating later as a navigator in Bomber Command. Those who remember the Luftwaffe night fighter efficiency and kill rate will appreciate the miracle of completing one tour of operations.
Schofield: survived the war as navigator in RAF Bomber Command
I am lucky to still be around to tell the tale.
What was your first civilian job?
My career in aviation went forward when I joined the European office of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation (the only Lockheed office outside the USA at the time). We saw the birth of the Electra, L-1011, F-104, Jetstar II, and the C-130.
In fact, the entire C-130 world marketing strategy was devised in our Geneva office, commanded by the famous Dutchman Harry Simons and his assistant Dauna Currie. Everyone thought Harry was crazy until he succeeded in breaking UK resistance to the C-130, after which Lockheed could not deliver the aircraft fast enough; almost all the world's air forces decided the C-130 was the military transport they needed.
My last assignment with Lockheed was as director of sales for the four-engined business jet, the Jetstar, manufactured in Marietta, Georgia.
You then moved into business aviation proper with TAG
My time there involved marketing the first CL600 range of Canadair Challengers in the Middle East, where Adel Oubari (TAG vice-president sales) and I spent weeks demonstrating the aircraft to heads of state in Middle East capitals.
In those early Challenger aircraft days, we were considered ahead of the competition, but also slightly ahead of the market requirement. Adel was an ex-Gulfstream salesman. He knew his way round the region better than most; more importantly, he knew all the right people in the different countries.
My education in selling business jets, which started at Lockheed, now took on a completely different dimension.
You then set up your own company
After TAG, I set up Lassint (Land-Air-Sea-Space International) with the support of two gentlemen, Sheikh Nafisah and Adel Oubari. Lassint's principal activity was trading in business jets worldwide, as well as seeking out new business in the defence field throughout the Middle East. I subsequently retired from Lassint and took up consulting assignments, which included lecturing at various academic institutions, coaching on a professional career level, seminar writing, and conference producing.
How did you become involved in the Geneva Forum?
I became founder and producer/director of the Geneva Forum conference, dedicated to aircraft finance and developments in commercial and business aviation, which started 25 years ago. I retired a few months back and handed the reins over. The Geneva Forum is still going very strong. In 1986 it was one of the only conference producers on the aviation scene, which is, of course, not the case today.
Have you retired completely?
I have been asked by another conference company to produce a new conference, the London Aviation Forum, dedicated to those subjects I know well - aircraft finance and leasing.