Chief Executive Officer
An enthusiastic and experienced private pilot, Simon Tilling has been flying for 10 years. In his words, “my wife bought me a trial flying lesson for my birthday. I went for the flight which was at Old Sarum, and that was it. I was hooked and it was ‘love at first flight’ you might say.” He has owned a wide variety of light aircraft in the years since, including a number of LAA types. A keen air-racer, Simon is also a former British Air Racing champion and from 2020 to 2022, was the chairman of the Royal Aero Club ‘3Rs’ committee for Races, Records and Rallies, during which time he regenerated the appeal of airracing to new participants. He currently enjoys flying his 1942 Taylorcraft Plus D/AOP 1, and a North American Navion. Simon also enjoys restoring 1970’s motorcycles and collects Airfix kits from his childhood. Simon began his career working in the telecoms industry, before eventually moving to a role as a services manager for Dell Computers, where he eventually became VP for services for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Upon leaving Dell, Simon helped run an outsourcing company before then becoming a contractor. In this role, he spent 10 years being parachuted in to companies to fix customer service issues, working on transformation projects, and rolling out new software implementation. Simon took over as the Light Aircraft Association’s Chief Executive in April 2023.
Our Engineering Team
Jon joined the LAA in 2008 as Deputy Chief Engineer, becoming Chief Technical Officer in 2022. Prior to the LAA, Jon was the Chief Technical Officer at the British Microlight Aircraft Assocation, where he learnt to fly flexwings. Before that, he began his career at British Aerospace at Filton (later Airbus UK) as an undergraduate/graduate apprentice and then as an Airworthiness Engineer on A330/A340 projects. Jon has a MEng in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Southampton University, is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and is a Chartered Engineer. Jon manages and oversees the Engineering Team.
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Chief Technical Officer
Lucy has an MEng (Hons) in Aeronautical Engineering from Loughborough University. Previously, she has worked for Rolls-Royce and as an Aircraft Structural Repair Design Engineer. She has been a BGA Glider Inspector since 2014 and is an ARC Signatory. Lucy began gliding in 2010 and is now a Full Category Instructor, as well as flying in competitions and organising events for young glider pilots, as a member of the UK Junior Gliding Development Team. She is currently a BGA Board Member. In 2016, Lucy started power flying with the help of an Air League scholarship. Lucy holds both a PPL(A) and an NPPL(A) and flies the tug at her gliding club - a Supermunk (Chipmunk modified).
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Ben came to the LAA after spending 13 years working in the Technical Office at the British Microlight Aircraft Assocation (BMAA) and 11 years as BMAA Chief Technical Officer. His interest in aviation was spawned as a youngster reading Biggles books, and then seeing the Edwardian and WW1 aircraft at the Shuttleworth Collection. After graduating from Southampton University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, he gained his PPL on weight-shift control Microlights. He now owns and flies a Pietenpol Air Camper. Ben’s favourite engineering area is aeroplane loads and structural analysis, and he enjoys dealing with the wide variety of different aircraft construction types in the LAA fleet.
Head of Design
Andy’s aviation interest stems from his Dad. The closest he came to flying was making model aircraft until a BAC apprenticeship enabled him to afford gliding lessons. After his apprenticeship, Andy worked in BAe’s production development department, specialising in non-metallic materials, which meant mostly working with glass, carbon and aramid fibres. This led to co-building and flying a Rutan Long-EZ. He then worked with composites in Milan, before returning to the UK to get his CPL and instructor ratings. He later worked for Europa Aircraft, heading up the technical team. In 2006, Andy joined the PFA/LAA as a Design Engineer, mostly investigating mods and repair applications and conducting check/test flights.
Head of Flight Test
Fiona has over 30 years administration experience. She joined the Light Aircraft Association at the beginning of January 2009 and lives locally. Fiona started her career as an Office Junior on YTS (Youth Training Scheme) at 16. She has worked in various admin roles including book keeping, being Personal Assistant to the Managing Director of a Manufacturing Company and Office Manager/Personal Assistant to a specialist building firm. At the Light Aircraft Association, Fiona deals with telephone enquiries, paperwork relating to projects and first issues, modification, repairs, permits and process tracking, liaises closely with the CAA and deals with all general engineering secretarial and admin duties.
Adele joined the Light Aircraft Association in November 2015. She deals with telephone enquiries, paperwork relating to permits, projects and first issues. Adele also liaises closely with the CAA and deals with all general engineering secretarial and administration duties. Adele is approved to sign off Permit to Fly revalidations, so if you own or operate an LAA aircraft, you will often hear from Adele if there are any queries regarding your Permit to Fly revalidation application.
Miti’s interest in aviation sparked from the day she first sat on a plane that took her through her journey of building UAVs and other rotorcrafts to forming clubs promoting drone making and flying during her college days. Miti joined LAA as a Design Engineer in April 2023. She deals with the modifications, and repairs of most of the LAA fleet’s light aircraft including the first issues of the new home builds. Prior to the LAA, she worked in an eVTOL startup named Volador Flytech as an Aerospace Structures Engineer. Miti moved to England in 2021, this is when she completed her Master of Science in Aerospace Vehicle Design from Cranfield University. She also graduated from SRMIST with a Bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering.
Our Commercial Team
Penny spent most of her life in South America and West Africa before settling back in the UK in the mid 90’s. She joined the LAA in 1996 and as Office Manager her roles vary from overseeing running of the office, H&S and HR to Membership, events, NPPL, meetings, and the Rally. Part of Penny’s role is supporting our members, Struts, Pilot Coaches and the Board. Penny is also part of various LAA working groups. Her previous work varied from being a PA to a Headmaster to volunteering at Tiggywinkles. Penny has a son, a dog, a parrot and keeps tropical fish (in no particular order!).
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Jo joined the LAA in March 2013. She has over 30 years experience in the Secretarial/Admin field. She has previously worked as a PA to a Barrister, for Consultants in the NHS and spent 12 years in the world of education at the University of Southampton and at a Warwickshire Educational Charity. Jo works for both the Commercial and Engineering Departments. She enjoys helping LAA members with their queries and loves organizing the LAA annual rally. She lives locally and is married with two sons.
Cheryl has a long and varied working history in administration and office support for international corporates, real estate, training and a large local NHS health centre recently. She is a new addition to the LAA in 2023 and looks forward to meeting and supporting our members going forward. Cheryl moved to England from South Africa with her family, in 2019. She resides near Silverstone circuit and enjoys all things racing related – including British Superbike for which her son is a member of a local BSB team - and her husband is in the Formula 1 industry.
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Sheila joined the LAA end of year 2003. She is responsible for the day to day running of the membership database. Her many duties include the general running of the LAA office, dealing with e-mails, as well as classified advertisements for Light Aviation magazine, the LAA Shop, the administration of NPPL and 'LAA Wings' applications, checking all online payments and inputting data into SAGE. Sheila lives locally, has two grown-up children and four young grandchildren.
Francis was the Chief Engineer for the LAA between 1990 and 2021, and led the Engineering Team during the massive expansion in both size and scope of the LAA fleet over that period. For more than 30 years, Francis was the man who recommended the issues of all Permits to Fly for newly constructed amateur built and restored vintage aircraft, as well as dealing with a great many modifications and repairs and overseeing the continued airworthiness of the LAA fleet. He has flown an example of many of the aircraft types approved by the LAA. Francis continues to support the LAA staff and members as an Engineering Consultant. An experienced homebuilder, restorer and aircraft owner himself, Francis continues to be part of the HQ team, write for the LAA magazine and to help ensure LAA members get the technical support they need to get off the ground safely.
Light Aviation Editor
Ed joined the Popular Flying Association (now LAA) in 1992 as a teenager who loved flying, and completed his PPL in 1994. He was LAA Bristol Strut co-ordinator from 1998 to 2003, and has built two homebuilt Permit aircraft, a Van’s RV-6 (2000-2002) and an RV-8 (2012-2019). In 2020 he bought an RV-3B, and when time allows, can be found flying that, or a friend’s Piper Vagabond and RV-6 from Garston Farm and Wadswick airstrip. Working as an aviation photographer since 1996, Ed’s images have been published worldwide in a wide array of sport aviation magazines. Well known in the UK for his work with FLYER Magazine, Ed was Editor for over 100 issues until December 2021, when he made the switch to Editor at large. Following Brian Hope’s retirement from the role in late 2021, Ed took on the role of Editor of Light Aviation magazine for the LAA.
LAA Engineering Courses
Brian joined the then the Popular Flying Association in 1976, when he learned to fly, and owned a Jodel D117 from 1988 until 2016, logging the best part of 2500 hours with it. Having sold it, after a four-year hiatus, he bought another Jodel in 2020 with a friend. Brian got involved in LAA ‘business’ via his involvement with the Mid Kent Strut, and was invited onto the PFA Executive Committee in 1992. Over the years has been the Treasurer, a Vice Chairman, an LAA Board member and from 2001 until I retired at the end of 2021, the editor of the Association magazine. Brian’s current role is to organise Engineering courses for members. After a hiatus due to Covid, Brian is keen that the new workshop at LAA HQ will allow greater course variety. In order to contact Brian, his home phone number is 01795 662508; mobile 07949 650847 and email [email protected].
Chief Test Pilot
Dan Griffith joined the RAF at 18 and went to London University where he studied Aeronautical Engineering. He learned to fly on Bulldogs and Jet Provosts before gaining his pilot wings on the Hawk. Dan flew Harriers operationally, gaining over 1200 hours. In 1992 he went to the USAF Test Pilot course at Edwards Air Force Base. After Edwards he was posted to the Flight Research site at Bedford and then to Boscombe Down, where his main project was the futuristic fly-by-wire VAAC Harrier developing the next generation of Short Take-off and Vertical Landing aircraft. In 1996, Dan left the military to join the CAA as a civil Test Pilot. He was responsible for the Certification and Continued Airworthiness of aircraft ranging from the Airbus A380 to lighter aircraft, including many LAA types. He left the CAA in March 2007 and now works as an independent test pilot.