John (Jock) Cameron
Born the son of a tailor in Glasgow on October 14, 1916, Captain Jock Cameron saw his first helicopter at the end of the First World War and was captivated. He was then a young, Royal Airforce flight lieutenant based at Thomey Island but it was the helicopter's potential for civil transport that fascinated him.
When in 1947 the new BEA helicopters experimental unit asked the RAF to recommend five pilots with more than 200 hours helicopter flying time, Cameron was one of the only three who stepped forward - resigning his commission to do so. It was the start of a new career which would see him become a visionary figure in the industry. He took part as a pilot in the first experimental mail services in the Somerset, Dorset and East Anglia, and then, in 1950, in the first trial passenger flights, from Cardiff to Liverpool. Within a short time he was ferrying an impressive collection of visiting VIPs including President Eisenhower, King Hussein of Jordan, the Shah of Iran, and Frank Sinatra. In 1953, he won the Queen's Commendation for his role in search and rescue missions during the flood disaster in The Netherlands.
Helicopters played an important role where he introduced new machines such as WG-30 and the Chinook. But the innovation that pleased him the most was the founding of the helicopter service linking Penzance to Scilly Isles in 1964. Operating from a new helicopter in Penzance, it is now the longest running and most successful scheduled helicopter service in the world, carrying more than 125,000 passengers in 2,000. A convivial figure with a wide circle of friends, he remained a dedicated "Highlander" throughout his life, wearing a kilt as often as practical. He regarded the addition of water to his single malt as a cardinal sin. Although he retired in 1981, he continued to swim in his outdoor pool at his Sussex home, where the water was said to be cold enough to perish the average penguin.
Jock was a member of AHS (since 1974), The Royal Aeronautical Society, and frequently attended HAI's Heli-Expo.
AHS Update: Vertiflite Spring 2001