Special aeroplane flies into Shoreham

Bill Charney with his 1944 Beech Staggerwing biplane
Bill Charney with his 1944 Beech Staggerwing biplane

SHOREHAM Airport will be getting a visit from a special aeroplane on Sunday, as part of a family reunion.

The Beech Staggerwing biplane has been voted one of the most beautiful aeroplanes in the world and this particular one won the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation at last year’s Goodwood Revival.

Owner Bill Charney will be flying into Shoreham on his slow round-the-world flight as a special favour to John Townes for his family reunion.

Both Bill, known as Captain Biff Windsock, and John live in Reno, Nevada, where John runs a personal chauffeur service.

John said: “It is a 1944 Beech Staggerwing biplane, which was operated by the Royal Navy during World War Two. Normally based in Reno, Nevada, it is on a very slow round-the-world flight.

“The owner, Captain Bill Charney, an ex-Vietnam fighter pilot and retired United Airlines 747 captain, and I both live in Reno and I am holding a family reunion at Shoreham Airport.

“Bill has kindly agreed to fly in to make the occasion special.”

John, who will be arriving from America on Friday, has been in business in the northern Nevada and California area since 2005.

He ran a similar business in London for 12 years and prior to that, worked in the automotive industry for 25 years, both in the retail and wholesale side of the business.

In his younger days, John was in the Royal Air Force and worked in the airline industry for eight years.

Bill’s Staggerwing has been restored several times, most recently in New Zealand by the Croydon Aircraft Company.

She was shipped there from Reno and Bill is now making the long journey back home over a two to three-year period, planning to visit as many countries as possible on the way.

He said: “It is to be a flight of navigational challenge, cultural discovery, and environmental appreciation.”