Wally Epton began his career in aviation as a Royal Air Force aircraft apprentice at Halton and went on to complete flying training as an officer cadet at the RAF College Cranwell. He served in the RAF for 20 years before retiring in 1978 as a Squadron Leader.
Tours of duty with the Air Force included flying Strike/Ground Attack B-15 Canberras, C-130 transport aircraft and HS125 Dominie navigation trainers. Wally also flew as a display pilot with the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight for 3 years flying Spitfires and Hurricanes. When the HAA was founded in 1980 Wally was an early member with the founding fathers and proudly holds membership number 100.
Since gaining experience of historic warbird flying with BBMF, Wally continued as an active display pilot flying a variety of types that included the ME108 Taifun, Varsity and the Morane Saulnier MS733, as well as the Boeing Stearman. Moving to Australia in !981 to fly for Shell meant a break from historic aircraft flying, but he has never lost that keen interest and continues to fly vintage, historic and heritage aircraft today for fun. Although no longer an active display pilot he still enjoys turning upside down and getting formation practice as and when he can. As well as the Spitfire and Hurricane, Wally has 4 de Havilland design types – the Tiger Moth, Dragon Rapide, the Chipmunk and, of course the HS125 Dominie, on his licence. He is a Flight Instructor on light aircraft and enjoys teaching aerobatics on the Chippie and tail-wheel flying on the Tiger.
He currently holds UK, EASA and FAA ATP’s with over 16,400 flight hours. Wally spent nearly 10 years flying in Australia before transferring back to the UK and renewing his links with the HAA. For the past 33 years, he has flown as a business jet pilot concentrating on the Hawker 125, Hawker-4000 and Challenger CL-604 series worldwide. Of his historic aircraft flying his favourite type remains the Spitfire Mk Vb.
Wally currently serves the HAA as Chairman on Council and as a director of Historic Aircraft Industry Support Ltd. He is Leader of both the HAA Engineering Group and the HAA Self-Administration Project Working Group. Under Wally’s guidance the HAA SAM WG, in liaison with the CAA GA Unit, is aiming to gain delegated authority to provide oversight and administration to current operations and maintenance regulations. SAM will enhance safety and control costs, and Wally’s mantra is ‘Historic flying and safety at the right cost – not at any cost’.
He is a Liveryman Past Master in the Honourable Company of Air Pilots, formerly GAPAN, having served as Master in 2011. However he considers himself to be a Journeyman Pilot who has fulfilled the requirements of Apprentice, Liveryman and Master to hone his trade thus earning him the Freedom of The City of London. He also holds Master Air Pilot Certificate 892. Wally is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and sits on various committees serving General and Historic Aviation.
Married to Jan with 3 very grown children, and one grandson, he enjoys family life and when time permits he is a keen participant of motor sports, rowing, tennis, and golf.