Up in the Air

“When I was a lad growing up near Gatwick, I had this recurring dream that I would suddenly become airborne and go flying round the countryside,” says Martin Pettifer, a technician inthe Mechanical Instrumentation Workshop in the Department of Physics.

Martin Petifer

“My whole life I’ve been obsessed with the sky,” he admits. Martin qualified as a pilot by the age of 21 and has been doing aerobatics in vintage planes, and passing on his passion by working as a flying instructor, at the weekends ever since. He relishes a challenge; whether that be in his weekday role – making tiny prototypes from start to finish for academics to enable them to do their experiments with lasers or cryogenics – or looping the loop in a WWII Tiger Moth. “I prefer flying older planes, as their lack of technology makes them a real

"My whole life I’ve been obsessed with the sky,"

handful to fly,” he explains. Martin would love to use his expertise to build his own plane one day but dismisses making one from  a kit, in favour of doing it from scratch. “The problem is that would take up to 15 years and, for me, that’s valuable flying time I’m not prepared to sacrifice."