Thames Estuary Flying Club/Aviation

Operated from Mid-1972 to c.1989 and from Feb 2000 to Sep 2002

Founders/Directors – David Thompson, Graham Williamson, George MacFarlane, Dave Parry, Keith Foster, Lance Martin, Chris Arnold & Ken Goodchild

Thames Estuary initially started life as the YY Group some time around the middle of 1972 with two aircraft – Rallye G-AYYY which became the flagship for the club (and later T.E.F.L.) plus a privately owned C-172 G-AROA. By the latter part of the year the club had evolved into T.E.F.C. and the fleet was gradually extended further to include a multitude of other types, many of which did not actually belong to the club, but were regarded as associate member aircraft that could be used for training with the permission of their owners. Again, the standard fare of ratings and training would be offered including P.P.L., Night, I.M.C., Aerobatic and R/T.

The club would also involve itself in a good number of fly-ins, one of the first including an exchange visit with the Air France Aero Club which saw Bolkow 208 Junior F-BRHM, PA-28 F-BTMB, GY-80 Horizons F-BLPK & F-BLPL, Rallye Commodores F-BOVH & F-BPHA and Cessna F150G F-BOGX all arriving on June 29th 1973. Around the turn of 1975/76, another branch of the company was set up in the form of Thames Estuary Aviation which involved itself with leasing and private charters. One of the first aircraft involved in this venture was a PA-23 Aztec twin that was for the most flown by pilot Paul ‘Daisy’ Reid.

Needless to say, both concerns went from strength to strength with a good number of aircraft and instructors on hand by the late-70s. Some of the club’s instructors over the years included Mike Angermann, Pearl Shepard, C.F.I. Ted Wilkinson, Ivan Palmer, Oscar Foster, Felicia Hodgson, Geoff Cox, Wendy Crick, Terry Absolam, Paul Atkinson and Simon Skelton while the fleet itself reached a peak of 12 company owned aircraft by 1980 with several others available from associate members. The company even started a maintenance division in north side hangar 2 during 1979, this subsequently being placed into the extremely capable hands of engineer Ahmed Jahanfar.

Further fly-ins were organised at the beginning of the 1980s, these being for aircraft with out-of-sequence registrations. The date of the first event is unknown but June 6-7th 1981 would witness a second round of arrivals which also involved a hearty barbecue outside the club house. It would appear that T.E.F.C. continued to operate up until the end of the 1980s, although the exact reason for the club’s closure is unknown. It also seems that an attempt was made to either relaunch or restart this club in 2000 although this endeavour was relatively short lived and by the end of 2002, the Thames Estuary name had once again disappeared from Southend.

A typical page from Gordon Riley’s Log Book – 1979


With many thanks to Paul Atkinson, Phil Camp, David Dunlop, Andy Glynn, Paul Griggs, Julian Hyams, Ivan Palmer, Gordon Riley, Trevor Sexton & David Thompson for helping with info for this page.


TEFC aircraft from 1972 to 1989

(Please note: a number of these aircraft were privately owned (P) and only available by prior arrangement with the relevant associate member)

Piper PA-28

Club/Director Owned

G-ATPN – 12/77 to 7/86

Sold to Ron Harris & Ahmed Jahanfar

G-AVLI – 3/88 to 8/88

Part owner by Ken Goodchild – Sold to J.V. White

G-AYJS – 7/75 to 11/82

Sold to W.R. Griffiths & Sons

G-TEFC – 11/80 to 7/86

Sold to A.J. Perry & A. Strachan

Private/Associate Member Owned

G-ASIJ – (P) Dates Unknown

G-ATVK – (P) Dates Unknown

G-AXTD – (P) Dates Unknown

G-BBBN – (P) Dates Unknown

Piper PA-28R Arrow

Club/Director Owned

G-AWFC – 12/82 to 11/98

Sold to B.J. Hines

Private/Associate Member Owned

G-AZWS – (P) Dates Unknown

Piper PA-38 Tomahawk

Private/Associate Member Owned

G-PRIM – (P) Late ’80s

Cessna 172

Private/Associate Member Owned

G-ARCM – (P) Dates Unknown

G-AROA – (P) Mid ’70s

G-ATLN – (P) Late ’70s

Cessna 177

Club/Director Owned

G-BAFI – 10/79 to 3/83

Sold to Nottingham Building Society

American AA-1 Yankee

Private/Associate Member Owned

G-AYLO – (P) Dates Unknown

American AA-5 Traveller

Club/Director Owned

G-BBUE – 8/81 to 7/86

Sold to S.J. Southwell-Gray

Private/Associate Member Owned

G-BAEJ – (P) Mid ’70s

Beagle Pup

Private/Associate Member Owned

G-AWYJ – (P) Late ’70s

Beech 19A Musketeer

Private/Associate Member Owned

G-AWTV – (P) Dates Unknown

Bolkow Monsun

Private/Associate Member Owned

G-AZTA – (P) Dates Unknown


Club/Director Owned

G-AWJI – 12/74 to 6/83

Sold to D.V. Tyler

G-AYYY – 8/72 to 2/73

Still used privately by the club afterwards – Sold to Southair Ltd

G-AYYZ – 7/80 to 2/83

Associate member aircraft from 5/77 to 7/80 – Sold to R.J. Napp

Private/Associate Member Owned

G-ASAT – (P) Dates Unknown


Thames Estuary also had a Piper PA-23 Aztec and a PA-30 Twin Comanche either in its fleet or available as associate aircraft, although their registrations are unknown.


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Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.