So many of us wish our elderly relatives would write down their amazing life stories so future generations can share their experiences, but few of us actually get them to do it. Jennifer’s father, Brian Anthony Ashley, was a pilot in the golden age, where pilots could experiment, get up to all sorts of mischief and have a lot of fun! His passion for planes is clear, and he would never pass up the opportunity to try out a new machine. He absolutely loved flying for the RAF, which took him all over the world and led him to meet some wonderful people.
Jennifer Williams always loved listening to her father and his cronies reminisce about their days in the RAF. She realised that all those stories would all be lost unless he wrote them down. He had already written a few articles for various journals, but had never tackled such a big writing project. Jenni encouraged him to make a record of his legacy but didn’t realise just how big the project would be. Jenni comments, “As the tome grew, we suddenly realised that we actually had a book that my father wanted to publish. Sadly, he died before he was able to achieve this, so at my mother’s request, I took on the task.”
Jennifer then used diaries, photos and logbooks to piece together the rest of the story as accurately as she could. The book, Two Hawks and a Pelican, is a testimony to her father’s memory.
“Finding a publisher was initially a minefield. However, as soon as I came across I_AM Self-Publishing, I knew I’d found the right people to help me on my mission. Right from the first contact, nothing was too much trouble; everything was explained in terms that I, as a layperson, could understand. The whole project was run professionally AND in a time-frame that suited me.
When the final proof arrived, I cried; it was perfect. I’m sure that my father would have been proud of what we had all achieved. Thank you I_AM Self-Publishing for a great job well done.” – Jennifer Williams
About Two Hawks and a Pelican
It is the story of a Lincolnshire farm boy who dreamed of being a pilot. Despite leaving school at just 14 to work for the BBC, followed by a stint in the Royal Navy, he finally managed to join the RAF in 1950.
The book follows his career from flight training in Tiger Moths all the way through to the Buccaneer. Over his years in the RAF, he amassed a staggering 3,160 flight hours, in 42 different aircraft; certainly one of the most prolific pilots of his generation.
He was a photo reconnaissance pilot in the Cold War, flew a Meteor in the Queen’s Coronation Flypast, completed the Empire Test Pilots Course at Farnborough, gained A1 QFI category and Command Instrument Rating Examiners rating in all four categories of aircraft, and enjoyed every moment.
Brian loved to fly, and did anything to beg or borrow any serviceable aircraft whenever possible for a try out. However, his greatest love was the Meteor, in which he flew many displays. He always likened it to a lady; temperamental but well-behaved if handled correctly, deadly if not.
The two Hawks of the title are silver statuettes of the Staff College Hawk of Horus, one awarded from the Staff College at RAF Andover, and the other from the Staff College at RAF Brampton; these, together with the Pelican from the Central Flying School, make a unique collection, of which Brian was very proud.