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The history of Uncle Roger’s Festive Quiz

I’m David Learmount, Flight’s Operations and Safety Editor. I’ve been on the Flight team since 1979, so I have seen – and participated in - rather a lot of aviation history.

But who is Uncle Roger? He is certainly a worthy piece of aviation history in his own right.

I mean the Uncle Roger associated with the Festive Quiz, which for the first time this year has gone interactive on line.

If you are meeting this annual aviation quiz for the very first time as a user of, rather than having met it in its traditional home - Flight International magazine – I’d better explain a bit of its history. Like where the time-honoured accolade “Total Aviation Person” came from.

Uncle Roger, full name Roger Bacon, was originally the pseudonym of former Flight editor Mike Ramsden, who was also the inventor and writer of the light-hearted Straight and Level column that you would find at  the back end of every issue of the magazine. The “Uncle” designator tapped successfully into the “club” – even “family” – feeling enjoyed by people all over the world united by their love of aviation.

Straight and Level still appears fairly regularly in the magazine these days, and the annual still there each Christmas.

Mike Ramsden isn’t in charge of Straight and Level any longer, but his creation lives on in a more modern style. Imitating his style would have been impossible anyway – many tried and failed.

Mike, an aeronautical engineer completely devoted to aviation, invented the term “Total Aviation Person” as the highest compliment he could pay to any mortal who was worth knowing. If you were not in aviation at all you were not worth knowing. But you will have earned the Total Aviation Person accolade if you get more than 80 points in this quiz!

Mike also invented a string of characters who brought the S&L column to life: Capt Speaking (airline pilot), Monty Orangeball (tabloid aviation reporter), Rollo Freelunch (aviation PR man). Scruggs Aviation was a barely disguised forbear of today’s BAE Systems, and Budgie News was Flight International itself. There were many others.

The Quiz has existed through the 30 years of my sojourn at Flight, and it was there before that when I was an avid S&L reader as a private pilot and later as an RAF aviator.

Enjoy the Quiz, whether online or hard copy, and good luck with it.

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