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Gerry Breen


Gerry Breen started his long aviation career when only 13 years old at the Bristol & Gloucester Gliding Club.

He joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) at 16 years of age and, during his engineering apprenticeship at the No.1 School of Aircraft Technical Training Halton, he became a gliding instructor at the prestigious RAFGSA Centre, Bicester when only at 17 years of age. Whilst training he won the Whitbread Bursary Award & Sir Phillip Sassoon Flying Scholarship that started him on his professional aviation career at the Airline Service Training School in Perth, Scotland.

He passed out of Halton with honours in 1971 and started work as as a Junior Technician, servicing the Belfast heavylift aircraft at RAF Abingdon.


Gerry preparing for aerobatics in his Acrosport and Pitts Special 


Gerry & daughter Amy - who loves aerobatics!

 

1972 saw him become one of the first people in the UK to successfully fly a hang glider.

Gerry flying high on his first home made polythene & scaffold tube hang glider!

He was sponsored by the RAF to set many records including the first Royal Mail to be carried by a hang glider and the first dual flight from the summit of Snowdon.

First Hang Glider Mail

He along with Sqn Ldr Dave Willis were the first people to hang glide from the summit of Ben Nevis (4,406ft), Britain’s highest mountain, and he held the British and European duration record several times.

Gerry being hoisted by balloon for an attempt at the World altitude record in 1974

In 1974 he left the RAF and set up a hang glider manufacturing company.

He then started the Welsh Hang Gliding Centres at Crickhowell and Ruthin, which became Britain’s largest and most successful schools.

In 1975 he co-authored the first British book about hang gliding with the late President of the BMAA Ann Welch.

In 1976 he introduced powered hang glider flying to the UK and, by 1978, he had doubled the world non-stop distance record previously held by an American.

Gerry's World Distance Record flying the first UK microlight

He went on to become the first person to fly from London to Paris in the British Airways powered hang glider, which was the first Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) registered microlight in the UK (G-BGNL) and the first microlight flight to carry Royal Mail.

A young Gerry prepares to race Concorde to Paris!

He was undoubtedly the first person to coin the word ‘microlight'.

Not much traffic on the roads in 1980! - photo taken for Sunday Times Magazine

From 1978 to 1984 he popularised the sport in the media through Breen Aviation (then Britains largest centre) at Enstone Aerodrome so effectively that he became regarded by many as the ‘father’ of microlight aviation.

The Breen Aviation Headquarters at Enstone in 1980

 He was the first microlight pilot to land in the centre of Paris in the first London to Paris air race in 1982 and the first person to fly a microlight over London Tower Bridge in 1984.

Gerry makes the first ever microlight flight over London in 1984

Gerry wins the Lands End to John O’Groats race in 1980

Gerry & the famous fighter pilot the late Sir Douglas Bader in 1981

Gerry has taken part in many films and television documentaries. They range from flying as a stunt pilot to training pilots for a James Bond film.

Delivering kayaks through Dettifoss Canyon - Iceland

The most well known were: `Iceland Breakthrough’ featured in the National Geographic Magazine in which he flew a microlight across the Icelandic wasteland;

'Delivering' kayaks & supplies over Dettifoss Waterfall

and `On Angels Wings’ where he and his late great friend Kelvin Wilson were the first people to fly hang gliders from the summit of Angel Falls, the worlds highest waterfall (3000 ft), in Venezuela.

Angel Falls

Gerry photographs Kelvin next to the Falls

Taking off on the Ice-lake used in the James Bond film

In 1983 he was the personal instructor to His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah now King of Jordan

His Royal Highness King Abdullah of Jordan

and in 1984 he set up a microlight school in Germany where he met his late wife Manuela. In 1985 he and Manuela moved to the Algarve.

Gerry is the owner of the Algarve Airsports Centre at Lagos Aerdrome and teaches both weightshift and three axis microlights, and aerobatics in his Acrosport biplane. He also flies helicopters, seaplanes, autogyros, sailplanes, hang gliders, paramotors and paragliders.

British Cricketer, Ian Botham, takes his first flight with Gerry in 1982

He has now amassed over 20,000 hours flying experience on more than 200 aircraft types.

Ex-Formula One racing driver, Ricardo Patrese, takes his first flight with Gerry 1999

He is a CAA Panel Examiner, CAA Flying Instructor Examiner (FIE), Senior British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) and Light Aircraft Association (LAA) Inspector and Britain's only Microlight Seaplane Instructor and Examiner. He is undoubtedly one of the world’s most able and distinguished microlight pilots.

The immensly experienced - Brendan O'Brien - Television series 'FlightLine' presenter flies with Gerry

He and the family flew aboard the last Air France Concorde and they were also allowed into the cockpit during an attempt to break the altitude and speed record by climbing to over 60,000 feet and flying at Mach 2.05.


Gerry & Karen aboard Concorde's last flight with his son Philipp (the youngest on board) & daughter Amy were definitely the focus of media attention

60,000 feet over the Atlantic (photo taken by Philipp)

Gerry's quest for adventure continues on the sea and land also. Three years ago he chartered a Volvo 60 ocean racing yacht to attempt the Atlantic speed record.  Unfortunately he was caught out at the end of the hurricane season which destroyed three sails and only managed it in 12 days!  He is currently big into cycling recumbents in preparation for his round the world journey and also loves classic cars being the owner of his teenage dream car a Rolls Royce Mulsanne.

The Rolls

 

Gerry takes the family helicopter flying

Gerry loves to collect autographs of famous people that he has met in his travels and has signed photographs of Neil Armstrong (first man on the moon) and Chuck Yeager (first man to fly faster then the speed of sound) in pride of place amongst his collection.

The happy family backstage with their favourite stars David & Matt