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Fokker flight ends Stortford pilot's career on a high



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Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline
Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline

Bishop's Stortford aviator Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline on Saturday.

Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline
Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline

The return flights from Heathrow to Amsterdam mark the end of a 97-year partnership for the world’s oldest airline.

Richard, 60, along with 1st officer Ben Starreveld, was chosen by chance from a draw of all eligible KLM flight crew, which makes this experience even more special for the pilot who has been flying the Fokkers for over three decades.

Richard got his private pilot’s licence in 1984 while working in the insurance field in London. Once qualified, he left and taught the public for two years while getting the flying hours required to get a commercial licence. He then spent six years at Air UK, with nine months flying a Short 360, before moving on to his first Fokker made plane in 1987, the F27 Friendship. After joining KLM in 1992, Richard has flown only the Fokkers, with this month marking 28 years on the only Fokker 70s and 100s.

Richard, who has been married to Frances for 33 years, moved to the town 20 years ago and the couple lives at Hadham Grove. Their two sons, Jack, 29, and Rory, 26, both attended The Bishop’s Stortford High School, with Rory also going to The Bishop’s Stortford College. Rory is now a science writer for the BBC and lives in Bishop’s Stortford. Jack is a teacher in Poole, Dorset. Frances was a midwife, but is now a lecturer in Midwifery at Anglia Ruskin University, where she is the lead midwife for education.

Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline
Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline

Of the current Fokker 70, Richard said: “Oh, it’s a beauty! It’s considered one of the nicer planes to fly within the piloting community. It’s really easy to handle and I always say it just lands perfectly.”

Anthony Fokker is considered one of the most important entrepreneurs in aviation history. “The Flying Dutchman’s” history, as Fokker was nicknamed, has always been closely linked to KLM, as the flag carrier of the Netherlands. To celebrate KLM’s special relationship with Fokker, the aircraft have been decorated with the message, “Fokker, thank you” and a picture of him covering the tail fins.

Talking about the last flight, Richard said: “I’m really pleased that my wife Frances was on the last flight, too. I even had to buy her the ticket! I was very keen to make this flight and having been selected feels like a wonderful way to go out, but don’t worry, not with too much of a ‘bang’! Being the end of the plane’s life and the end of my career makes is a very special experience.”

Newer planes, including the E-Jet and Embraer 190, are replacing the very last of the Fokkers because of their age. The new aircraft are more fuel and energy efficient. The last of KLMs Fokkers are between 20 and 22 years old and are part of KLM’s subsidiary wing, Cityhopper. By the new year, there will only be a few Fokker 70s or 100s operating globally, with only 12 Fokker 70s left in Europe.

Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline
Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline

Looking at his career and the future, Richard said: “I love my job all the people are great, but I’m done with hotel rooms. I missed lots of time with Frances and the kids growing up when I’d have to spend whole weeks away at a time. I excited and terrified in equal measure. I’ll miss it terribly.

“I had the chance to train on the new aircraft, but it’s a good opportunity for me to pursue other ambitions. I’ve always loved sailing and I’d like to take the opportunity while I’m still young enough to teach others. I’m starting courses to teach offshore sailing. I’ve been sailing ever since I was knee-high.”

Richard’s flight was the last of six final commercial flights operated by KLM’s Fokker 70s to depart on Saturday. This was no coincidence. KLM deployed its first passenger planes, two Fokker II aircraft, and they were bound for London to the final flight from the capital completed the circle.

It landed at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol at 8.30pm with the traditional water salute from the fire brigade and a victory lap.

Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline
Richard Galloway ended his 30-year career with KLM with his dream job of piloting the last Fokker 70 commercial flight by the airline

On Sunday morning, a special KLM-Fokker monument was unveiled at Schiphol-Oost.



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