Martin Bee attended KHS from 1946 to 1955. He was in Plymouth and Norwich houses.
During his time at Kingham, Martin saw two head masters: John Woollan and then Teddie Cooper.
Also at that time the house masters of Plymouth and Norwich were Reg Durrant & Denys Woods respectively.
The photograph (left) shows Martin in 1952. Back row, far right.
Since leaving KHS Martin Bee has spent 50 years in aviation. After 3 years at the RAF College Cranwell, which included flying training on the Piston Provost and the Vampire jet, he graduated in 1958 – winning HM The Queen’s Gold Medal.
His early flying tours were on Hunters & Lightnings in East Anglia. Thence to the USA as a ‘loan’ pilot to the CIA where he flew the Lockheed U-2 for 5 years. Later tours included 2 Staff Colleges and command of a Lightning Squadron.
At age 38 the RAF offers a one-off option to leave the RAF with a pension or stay on to age 55. The choices are finely balanced. After flipping a coin, flying aircraft won over ‘flying a desk’ and Martin joined the Sultan of Oman for 2 years flying helicopters as the Dhofar War drew to a close.
While in Oman he wrote his UK Civil Aviation exam sample papers by mail, then took the written & flying exams in London. This led next to Gatwick with Sir Freddie Laker as a Skytrain pilot on the DC-10, flying mainly to the USA.
When Laker Airways went bust, Martin joined the ranks of the jobless. In a temporary venture as a freelance salesmen he sold software for Ferranti in the Middle East.
By chance, on a sales trip, he was in the right place at the right time. He was asked to collect at 7 days notice a new Gulfstream aircraft from the USA for a Sheikh – he accepted, and stayed 17 years on the Dubai Royal Flight.
Martin Bee was awarded the Air Force Cross and the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air (QCVSA) by the RAF.
Air Force Cross
The Air Force Cross is awarded in recognition of exemplary gallantry in the air on non-active operations.
The Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service recognises meritorious service during, or in support of, operations.
Photo: Martin Bee.