Mark Hannant

Twenty years ago, David Cyster added his name to the annals of aviation history when he piloted the first Tiger Moth ever to make the journey from Britain to Darwin, Australia in a rerun of Bert Hinkler's great solo flight of 1928.

Cyster's epic journey was sponsored by Shell, and it is Shell which has the Tiger Moth, Romeo Foxtrot (G-ANRF, on show at its stand (Hall 4, Stand J9). Cyster himself flew the aircraft, which still sports the famous yellow and red Shell pecten on its tail, from its home at Glenrothes airfield Scotland to the show and he will be here over the coming weekend.

The plan to retrace the flight path of Hinkler, who did it in an Avro Avian, was dreamt up by Cyster and his RAF colleague Ivan Rendell, who having modified the biplane, sought sponsorship from Shell's aviation manager John Rutherford who agreed to support the project.


The long haul to Australia began on 7 February (1978) at Dunsfold, the then British Aerospace aerodrome in Surrey - 50 years to the day since Hinkler had set out. Thirty-two days later Cyster arrived in Australia where he was hailed a hero.

Shell is obviously proud of its association, not just with Romeo Foxtrot but with the aviation industry itself, having been involved since the 1930s. But, says Steve Dudley, Shell Aviation marketing manager, the Group is not simply living on past glories.

"It's a privilege to have this famous aircraft here. Anyone with a knowledge of aviation history will be intrigued to see it.

"But we also have a very contemporary involvement in the industry which we're keen to talk about.


"Shell Aviation provides fuel to most of the world's big airlines and fuel and lubricants to Cathay Pacific and South African Airlines among others. We want to be the number one choice for aviation fuel and lubricants and as part of achieving that we are focusing very strongly at what our customers need."

One advantage that Shell may have over other suppliers is that it is also an operator: Shell Aircraft, another company within the Royal Dutch/Shell Group, operates its own fleet.

With increasing pressure on business and charter operators at London Heathrow airport, Shell Aircraft is in the process of moving from Heathrow to Rotterdam - which of course gives it easy access to the Royal Dutch bit of the Group's headquaters in The Hague.

The fact that it maintains a fleet means it understands the complexities of running an airline and the logistics involved in scheduling flights. "That means we speak the same language as our customers and have experienced the operation from their end," says Dudley.

Source: Flight Daily News