Eric Brown Award 2018
Eric Brown Award was presented to Captain Nick Kidd C.V.O at the BHA Annual Dinner on Thursday 8th November 2018
Captain Nick Kidd is a talisman of the helicopter industry. His contribution as a pilot, instructor, test pilot and examiner to both the military and civilian sectors over the last 50 years has been hugely significant.
Nick was educated at Austin Friars, Carlisle and then joined the Royal Navy in 1970. Shortly after commissioning at Dartmouth, he gained his wings (on the pilots’ course just after Pontius) and served for 20 years as a as a helicopter pilot, instructor and examiner. During his distinguished service in the Royal Navy Nick flew the Wasp, Sea King and Lynx gaining suitable experience to be posted to the Royal Navy Flying Standards branch. He completed several operational tours including Northern Ireland, the Cod wars in the North Atlantic and also the Falklands War in May 1982. The latter however was somewhat short-lived as he was aboard SS Atlantic Conveyor when it was hit by an Exocet and which subsequently forced him to jump overboard into the South Atlantic. Having dried off and warmed up, he then qualified as a Test Pilot at Boscombe Down and served on exchange with the US Navy Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Florida and also at Farnborough. It is well worth asking him about his tales of daring-do during his time as a military test pilot – for example his study into the effect of lasers when fired onto the pilot’s, in this case, his, visor when flying at speed low level in a Mark 1 Lynx. Suffice to say he survived and retained his vision for all things aviation…
Upon leaving the military, Nick joined McAlpine Helicopter Ltd (latterly Eurocopter and then Airbus Helicopters UK) for 10 years as their Chief Test Pilot; during this time he was a major contributor to the certification and introduction of the EC120, EC135, EC145 and EC155B1 models into service in the UK. He also pioneered and championed the introduction of the helicopter into the emergency services – as an Air Ambulance, Police and Fire Service helicopter. The latter however was not adopted by the Government due to insufficient funding despite Nick delivering very effective trials involving the BK117, ladders and Bambi buckets. Nick was also instrumental in driving the introduction and certification of Night Vision Goggles into civilian operational service – initially with the Devon and Cornwall Police helicopter.
On leaving McAlpine’s in 1999, Nick took up the role of Chief Training Captain at the newly civilianised Queen’s Helicopter Flight based then at Blackbushe. Not only did Nick train and check those on TQHF but he also conducted frequent training, testing and conversions of countless other pilots who were collocated at Blackbushe and the surrounding area – many of whom are here tonight. It was perhaps his 18 years at The Queen’s Helicopter Flight which best demonstrated Nick’s consummate dedication and commitment to service. As the Chief Training Captain, Nick worked tirelessly to maintain the highest standards demanded by TQHF; his encyclopaedic aviation knowledge, significant skill and sound judgment were fundamental in ensuring the direct air safety of HM The Queen and the Members of the Royal Family. In addition to conducting over 3500 royal flights as a line Captain, he successfully transitioned TQHF’s training syllabus to a fully functional, simulator-based Alternative Training Qualification Programme (or ATQP); in so doing he pioneered the way for the ATQP in the on-shore helicopter industry. Nick’s fastidious commitment to training was also demonstrated when he conducted the Duke of York’s ground-school conversion onto the Squirrel in 2004 in the garden of Sunninghill Park with his broken leg up in plaster shortly after a windsurfing accident!
Since retiring from TQHF in 2016, Nick’s desire to contribute to the helicopter industry has continued unabated. He has blazed the trail in delivering Performance Based Navigation training – delivering instruction and qualifications to countless aviators across the country – many of whom are here tonight. He has even recently qualified as a Senior Flying Examiner with the Authority in which he continues to drive up the standards of the industry’s flying training and testing.
So what makes Nick Kidd’s career and contribution to the helicopter industry so special?
Not only is Nick a consummate professional, a gifted pilot and talented instructor/examiner, but he is a man firmly committed to serving those with whom he works be them colleagues, candidates or consultees. Skill and service to the rotary industry have been the hallmarks of his career. Not only will that be a view shared by many in this room tonight as well as by those in the wider industry, but it was also recognised by Her Majesty the Queen herself when she personally appointed him to the Royal Victorian Order as a Commander in October 2016.
Nick however has not only been an outstanding and committed servant to HM The Queen during his time in the military and at TQHF, but as a servant to the wider aviation community as a pilot, pioneer and professional. Yes his statistics of 13,000+ flying hours on over 140 different types of fixed and rotary wing are impressive but more importantly is his example, skill, and fastidious commitment to the very highest levels of aviation safety, which has seen Nick give of himself for the greater good of the industry.
To top it off Nick is a thoroughly charming gentleman who personifies the grace, attitude and example to which any aviator should aspire. His wisdom, experience and skills are exemplary and he is a role model for all those involved in rotary aviation. In short, Nick’s commitment and service to the helicopter industry have been exceptional and to that end it is entirely appropriate that Nick Kidd be named as the worthy winner of the 2018 Eric Brown Award for his outstanding service to the helicopter industry. Furthermore, I am sure that if Eric Brown was here tonight that he would have been justifiably proud of Nick – a fellow Test Pilot from the same stable – who also served the community with such professionalism.