T6 Harvard Aviation


STEP 1 - First Flight in the T6

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Why fly the Harvard?

This is what inspired me to pursue flying the T6 Harvard. I was told by other pilots that it would be impossible to go solo in the Harvard as I didn't have the right "pedigree" or enough hours on tail wheels to even stand the slightest chance ... Luckily I have the right pedigree to tackle most challenges with vigour....

I have been inspired in aviation by many people however the one great book that made me hungry was "First light" by Geoffrey Wellum... Meeting the man was was a humbling experience and a privilege, having a print personally signed by him was the icing on the cake...

If you don't know much about him, here is a little snippet......

WW2 Pilot Geoffrey Wellum DFC

RAF pilot Geoffrey Wellum Became one of the youngest pilots to fly in the 'Battle of Britain' As a recruit he successfully completed his Harvard training and went on to become a Spitfire pilot at the age of only 17.

In his autobiography "First Light" his first impression of the Advanced Trainer (AT-6) was "A purposeful stubbly aircraft with a pugnacious appearance not with out its attraction"

What aviator would not be inspired by the remarkable Geoffrey Wellum? He is a true war hero and an inspiration to future generations, as brilliantly depicted in the book 'First Light' and the excellent BBC drama of his time during the Battle of Britain.

Geoffrey mentions in his book 'First Light' a few short stories about his elementary flight training on the AT-6 Harvard. I was gripped by one short event where he mistakenly landed at Upavon (Wiltshire) in stead of Netheravon during one of his cross country flights. Easy mistake to make as both fields look exactly the same and extremely close together... Having flown over 800 hours myself from Netheravon I always wanted to land a Harvard at both airfields just to re live the story. I have always been passionate about warbirds and heros of the second world war so it was natural for me to find someone crazy enough to let me fly there T6 Harvard solo!

The Harvard from a low hour tail wheel pilot’s point of view

My recreational flying had started to get stale so I needed something to focus my attention. I had been flying parachute aircraft for many years, which had become part of my social life and the main stay of my flying activities. In hindsight, I have no regrets as this type of flying was hugely rewarding and at times quite exhilarating, it allowed me to gain plenty of turbine hours and twin time dropping parachutists from 13,000 feet whilst teetering on the stall and coping with huge weight and C of G issues. Having flown various piston aircraft such as the Cessna 206 and Britten Norman Islander, I had become accustomed to piston engine management, especially in the climb and the descent which was to become very useful later on!

I went head long in to flying the Harvard with very little tail wheel time and I don’t mind admitting that it has caught me out on more than one occasion! The machine is a real beast but at the same time a lady and a privilege to fly. It has been said many times “If you train in a P51 Mustang, you should be ready for the T6 Harvard!” I have never flown a P51 so I can’t comment on that.

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The Harvard (left) is G-BJST T6-J Myself in the front and instructor Neil Oakman behind keeping a close eye on me

"However what I can say with complete confidence is that the feeling of thundering down a former Battle of Britain runway with a T-6 strapped to you is a very special feeling indeed"

Sat with the same view that pilots had in the Harvard over 70 years or so ago, inhaling the same fumes as I do now, listening to the pop and crackle of the engine whilst looking over that big R-1340 Wasp radial engine, feeling the sheer sense of excitement as the throttle is opened up to 34 inches of manifold pressure is real living history, something that has to be experienced, impossible to get the feeling from a book, a real privilege.

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The Harvard (right) is the type that Geoffrey Wellum would have flown in early 1940 - Or maybe this is him?

The first Harvard I flew was made by the Canadian car and foundry (CC&F) and was the 1953 T-6J MK IV variant (G-BUKY). The name of the manufacturer CC&F doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘Supermarine’ especially when the company was initially famous for making railroad cars and trolley buses!

The CC&F during world war 2 built over 1400 Hawker Hurricanes which made up for nearly 10% of the total number of Hurricanes ever built and had various other contracts including the building of the T6 Harvard for distribution to world wide air forces.

With about 1200 hours on piston and turbine aircraft I also bought an Auster to build some tail wheel time. I was told that “if you can fly and Auster you can fly anything”… Well, in hindsight that’s complete balderdash! The difference between the Auster and the T-6 Harvard is like ‘night and day!’ That’s in my humble opinion, apart from the tail wheel of course....The Auster does take skill to get it down on 3 points with out bouncing due to the elastic bungee undercarriage however its not the same technique as placing over 5000 pounds of T-6 Harvard on three points at 70 Mph in a cross wind with the feeling of wearing a blind fold!

Initially I flew the T-6 from the rear just to get the hang of the machine and allow my instructor to give me the instruction required to fly it from the front, I also think that it was a way of the instructor satisfying him self that I was capable of handling the machine before he allowed me in the front where I had the majority of the controls! “Wise decision!” In the rear for example the gear cannot be retracted however it can be lowered, not a show stopper as the Harvard has a speed range up to 150 mph with gear down.

STEP 1 - First Flight in the T6 Harvard
STEP 2 -
Starting the T6 Harvard
STEP 3 -
The T6 Harvard Pre Take Off and Taxi
STEP 4 -
First T6 Harvard "Solo"

Photography - Where possible we have attributed all photographs to the photographer where known. Its not our intention to breach any copyright as most of the pictures have been taken from open source media.

email: Info@T6Harvard.com
Mobile: +44 (0) 7850 907183 (Glen)
Mobile: +44 (0) 7840 750999 (Neil)
Mobile: +44 (0) 7747 841348 (Mike)
Mobile: +44 (0) 7717534574 (Andy)
+973 35346217 (Andy Primary)

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