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Uncle Roger - hail and farewell

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  • Prior Lancey
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Mar 2010
    • 130

    Uncle Roger - hail and farewell

    Tuesday 20 August will see the funeral of J. M. 'Mike' Ramsden, the editor of Flight International from 1964 to 1981, and the creator of that magazine's much-loved 'Straight and Level' column.

    JMR (as he was widely known in aviation circles) was at the helm of Flight during an era that saw the widespread introduction of jet airliners, and the arrival of wide-body airliners and supersonic airliners. During those years the Vietnam War, Six-Day War, and Yom Kippur War saw the supersonic fighter, surface-to-air missile, and smart bomb change the shape of air combat. Unmanned spacecraft explored most of the planets that make up our solar system, while manned spaceflight made the transition from orbital missions to the moon landings.

    Ramsden had a superb mastery of the English language, and everything he wrote embodied carefully selected words and well-crafted sentences. But another important talent that he possessed was the ability to recognise the potential talent of others, and to spot the aviation workaholics that Flight needed. Its staff turnover in those days was high, partly because the company that owned the magazine saw no need to pay its journalists a decent salary. As a result, younger journalists did their time with Flight and 'learned their trade', but then headed off to work for other magazines. At least five became the editor of other aerospace or defence publications in the UK, Europe, or even further afield, as did two of the longer-established staff members, although death and retirement has thinned their ranks.

    Mike Ramsden was 90, so inevitably, not all of his protgs are still with us and likely to be present on Tuesday. But there should be sufficient numbers of the now-grey-haired to mark the departure of the man who taught them their craft. As Winston Churchill said of T. E. Lawrence, "We shall never see his like again."

    The fact that JMR was 'Uncle Roger' was not widely known until recent years. One of the mid-1970s Flight journalists had previously been employed by a well-known aerospace company, and used to tell the following tale of his final interview with the personnel department.

    It went a bit like this:

    "This interview is just a formality to make sure that you are not leaving the company due to any sense of grievance, and to check that...." [Looks down at his papers] "Oh you're the chap who is going off the work for Flight. I bet that will be fun..... Do you know who Uncle Roger is?"


    For more details, see:

    http://www.dhaetsa.org.uk/dhaets/doc...remembered.pdf
    Last edited by Prior Lancey; 15th August 2019, 09:39.
  • Vintage
    Rank 4 Registered User
    • Aug 2018
    • 64

    #2
    Happy Landings! Thanks Uncle Roger!

    V

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    • Bruce
      Independent analyst
      • Jan 2000
      • 10226

      #3
      Sorry indeed to hear of Mike's passing.

      He was a staunch supporter of the de Havilland Museum, and had been one of its directors for donkeys years.

      One of the last things I did at the museum, was attend a short talk by Mike in the hallway at Salisbury Hall, where he regaled us with stories of his youth, working at Hatfield. A remarkable man - generous to a fault, interested, and interesting!


      Bruce

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      • adrian_gray
        Which idiot let HIM in?
        • Jan 2000
        • 3013

        #4
        Late on the round-out no more.

        RIP Uncle Roger.

        Adrian
        "Snow clearing equipment has been found under snowdrift" - message sent from RNAS Hatston, Orkney, 1944.

        Comment

        • jack windsor
          Rank 5 Registered User
          • Dec 2008
          • 923

          #5
          hi,
          I took Flight in the 60-70's, and Straight and Level was the first page I went to... thanks uncle roger, RIP...

          Comment

          • avion ancien
            Long ago and far away ...
            • Aug 2007
            • 5336

            #6
            Originally posted by Prior Lancey View Post
            Ramsden had a superb mastery of the English language, and everything he wrote embodied carefully selected words and well-crafted sentences.
            Such a valuable talent in journalism - and so rare today.

            Comment

            • Mercurius
              Cantabrigiensis
              • Sep 2007
              • 1375

              #7
              Tuesday will be a sad sort of unofficial 110th anniversary of the first issue of 'Flight' for many of us. Is it really more than 30 years since Uncle Roger laid down his pen? Anyone who enjoyed 'Straight and Level' as a young engineer will be retired or near-retired now, and the same must go for the journalists who worked for 'JMR', and the many senior people from industry who knew him. As a result of those passing years, the subject of this thread must have proved puzzling to many forum members.

              I started reading 'Flight' in 1958, and later contributed a few items to 'Straight and Level", so I suppose that gives me the status of 'Nephew'.

              A little bit of deductive reasoning was enough to establish Uncle Roger's real-world identity, and the late Mark Hewish was responsible for my first meeting with 'JMR' in the mid-1970s. The last time that our professional footsteps crossed was in the Soviet pavilion at an early 1980s Paris Air Show.
              Mercurius Cantabrigiensis

              Comment

              • skyskooter
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Oct 2012
                • 414

                #8
                I too read Flight from 1958 until about 1975. It was a magazine for the enthusiast during those years but subsequently it changed into a magazine for the industry. I had to bin my collection when I married and left home. It was standing over six feet high in a bedroom cupboard.

                Comment

                • Seafuryfan
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Jan 2000
                  • 2497

                  #9
                  Uncle Roger: Required reading after articles of interest. Always nice to finish the magazine on a high note. I never tired seeing a picture of a pranged aircraft of some sort or or other, usually with the accompanying question......(anyone remember? Post below!)

                  Comment

                  • Archer
                    Innocent bystander
                    • Nov 2003
                    • 1721

                    #10
                    "A bit late on the round-out again, Hoskins?"

                    Sad to hear of his passing.
                    A Little VC10derness - A Tribute to the Vickers VC10 - www.VC10.net

                    Comment

                    • Lingo Dog
                      Rank 3 Registered User
                      • Oct 2018
                      • 127

                      #11
                      The 'Total Aviation Person' himself.

                      Comment

                      • Prior Lancey
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Mar 2010
                        • 130

                        #12
                        'JMR' had a good send-off. The chapel was full, and for a few of us it was 'standing room only'. A final 'Uncle Roger' moment came immediately after the service - a flyover by a Dragon Rapide. For us it was a perfect "Ah de Havilland" moment, but mourners for other funerals must have been puzzled by our cheering and arm waving in response to a wing waggle by the Dragon Rapide.

                        Comment

                        • ozplane
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Mar 2004
                          • 1651

                          #13
                          The Dragon Rapide was flown by Mark Miller who later joined two others in the flypast for Classic Wings stalwart Pete Ward.

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                          • Prior Lancey
                            Rank 5 Registered User
                            • Mar 2010
                            • 130

                            #14
                            The aircraft looked like it was sporting the colour scheme of the RAF Dominie version. An SLR with a telephoto lens is not the normal sort of thing that you take to a funeral, so I doubt whether anyone was able to get a pic. A pic was taken of the family and group of former Flight staff, but I don't know if it is going to be published.

                            Comment

                            • longshot
                              Rank 5 Registered User
                              • Aug 2008
                              • 1676

                              #15
                              Originally posted by skyskooter View Post
                              I too read Flight from 1958 until about 1975. It was a magazine for the enthusiast during those years but subsequently it changed into a magazine for the industry. I had to bin my collection when I married and left home. It was standing over six feet high in a bedroom cupboard.
                              The first hundred plus years of Flight are digitized and free online https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/search.aspx if you want to revisit your binned collection.

                              Comment

                              • Seafuryfan
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • Jan 2000
                                • 2497

                                #16
                                Click image for larger version

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                                I hope that Flight Global wont mind me reproducing a random example of Uncle Rogers page from the above archive.

                                Comment

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