Air Commodore James Linter, Air Attaché at the British Embassy in Washington, DC and Honorary Group Captain Kevin Billings, President of the Billy Fiske Foundation present a limited edition lithograph of Philip West’s painting ‘Comrades in Arms’ to US Air Force Chief of Staff, General CQ Brown on 17 August, the 80th Anniversary of the day Billy Fiske died. The painting depicts Pilot Officer Billy Fiske and 601 Squadron Officer Commanding, Squadron Leader Max Aitkens flying a patrol near RAF Tangmere 13 July 1940.

Eighty years ago, a young Royal Air Force fighter pilot called Billy Fiske was buried at Boxgrove Priory church in Sussex, one of the prettiest corners of southern England. He’d died of wounds sustained flying a Hawker Hurricane in the Battle of Britain. Nothing especially unusual about that — sadly, some 1,500 RAF aircrew perished in that epic struggle against the Luftwaffe. But if you had been in that medieval church that day, you would have noticed something rather unusual about this funeral. For Fiske’s coffin was draped with two flags — the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes.

On the first day of the Gulf War, the breath caught in my throat as I unplugged from the large Victor air-to-air refueling tanker, in my Tornado F3. Many details of that mission have faded, while others are as clear in my mind now as they were then.

I got into bronze sculpting for the love of immortalising not only someone anatomically but also to capture someones personality in an otherwise lifeless material. The excitement only grows for me when I have the challenge of sculpting someone as prestigious as Billy Fiske.

As we come upon the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies published a paper by Kevin Billings taking a look back and a look forward at the RAF 80 Years on from the Battle of Britain.

I recently retired from the Royal Air Force after a career spanning 37 years which included a lot of time spent alongside personnel from all of the US Services whilst working at the tactical, operational and strategic levels.  My first experiences of US forces were operating the Tornado GR1 on US-led multi-national exercises, such as RED FLAG, in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Participation in such exercises proved very useful for the events of early 1991 when the Gulf War led to Combined Air Operations against Iraq. 

Happy 109th birthday to Billy Fiske, from The Billy Fiske Foundation and Friends. Today, 4 June 2020, we would like to remember Fiske’s life & all that he stood for: justice, bravery, and the enduring friendship between the US & UK. Please enjoy this special birthday “Shout-Out” from a few of your friends.

The death of George Floyd was unconscionable.  I am outraged, as everyone should be, by the conduct of the police in Minneapolis.  The murder by Derek Chauvin was senseless, but even more appalling was that three officers, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng stood by and did nothing.  They stood by and did nothing!  The outrage that has followed and the response to it should be a wakeup call for all of us.

GIVEAWAY ALERT!
June 4th marks the 109th birthday of Billy Fiske, the first American pilot to die in World War II. Fiske was only 29 when he died from wounds sustained during the Battle of Britain.

I was delighted when Kevin Billings invited me to write a short piece about how Billy Fiske’s sacrifice in 1940 exemplifies the UK/US Special Relationship and, in particular, the unique relationship between the USAF and RAF.