Whether as test, display or aerobatic pilot, Neil Williams was revered. No wonder the aviation world mourned his loss 40 years ago, and remembers him to this day as one of the greats


Neil Williams in the cockpit of one of the Rothmans Aerobatic Team’s Stampes.
Exiting the rear cockpit of a Tiger Moth after an early aerobatic sortie from Pengam Moors near Cardiff.

On 11 December 1977, the unthinkable happened close to the summit of a canyon near Burgos in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains north of Madrid. Neil Williams died piloting a CASA 2.111 — Spanishbuilt Heinkel He 111 — destined for Blackbushe, and the then brightest star of British aerobatics was extinguished. The crew included his second wife, Lynn, and two engineers. Tributes flowed to the man who had become an international idol in competition aerobatics, and whom many believed should have been crowned world champion in Kiev the previous year.

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