Within the genus of “Flying Man” there are many species and sub-species, amongst which are pilots (who drive airframes) and instructors (who teach others to drive airframes)…. and then there are legends.
Ted Baines is a legend – but he will blush to hear himself described as one.
He’s not, thank goodness, a myth but a man who has created his legend by daily toil and flying the hard yards. Farmer, mine surveyor, racing driver, salesman (Area manager for the Castrol Oil Company – with a specialism in motorsport sponsorship!),charter pilot, business man, a Major in the Air Force Commando (108 Squadron), flying instructor, devoted family man, weather guru, dog lover, golfer – what a priceless breadth of experience!
Ted was born in King William’s Town and grew up on a farm on the Gonubie River between Kei Road and Komga. Educated at Queen’s College in Queenstown and at Rondebosch Boys’ High, Ted’s first passion was fast cars which he raced nationally for 3 years. Bitten by the flying bug after a back-seat flip in a Cessna 182 at East London in the early ‘60’s, Ted decided aeroplanes had more potential than racing cars! By 1966 he had his first licence and in 1975 he took the plunge and started Albany Air Services, a charter and training company in Grahamstown. He ran his company until he sold it in 1999, when he and his wife Lyn “retired” to Port Alfred (a house near the golf course, naturally!).
Ted had always had an association with 43 but agreed to work full-time at the School when he moved to Port Alfred - provided that he could have Mondays off for a round of golf!
Since then he must have played over 800 Monday rounds, whatever the weather!
Reports vary, but we believe Ted’s logbook shows more than 15,000 hours of flight instruction time (and then there’s all the rest of his flying on top – which must make the total close to 20,000 hours and in 45 different types of aircraft!). That’s truly hard yards – because by and large they will have been flown one at a time with each one making a contribution to somebody’s journey to becoming a pilot. Today he specializes in mentoring flying instructors and helping the hard-luck cases amongst the elementary students that no-one else can lead to understanding. He always succeeds.
If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives. And Ted has truly given – his inspiration, mentorship and wisdom to thousands (yes, it will be in the thousands) of young men and women in aviation over more than 40 years.
No-one who has flown with Ted – regardless of their background or experience - has returned from the trip without learning something–which is surely the hallmark of a great instructor.
In an age where it is increasingly rare, Ted is also unfailingly a gentleman. He wears his wisdom lightly and treats everyone, all the time, with perfect old-fashioned good manners.
Ted’s ability to inspire is eloquently described by one of his former pupils, Captain Kostas Monogioudis:
“Is Ted Baines still with you?
I did a quick internet search and was thrilled to see him in a photo on your site. I don't know if he still remembers me…. I was a student at Rhodes University back in 1975-1978. In 1977 I started my flying lessons with him with -EGU and -DTN at Grahamstown. He was my instructor till 1978. After I graduated at Rhodes with a B.Sc in Mathematics and Statistics and with my PPL I went to Pretoria where I worked for a year and also got my multi and night rating at Wonderboom airport. [In] 1980 I went to Canada and [the] USA where I obtained my Canadian and US CPL, instrument and instructors rating. I went back to Greece from where I write now. (I have never been back to RSA except as a crew to Joburg in the B747 many years ago).Then I worked as a flying instructor for some years, then as a weather modification pilot till I eventually joined the national airline OLYMPIC AIRWAYS as a first officer [in] 1988. I retired some time ago… since my airline went out of business and closed down, as captain of the Boeing 737. I flew the B737, Airbus, B747 and then as a captain in the B737. I hope he still remembers me. He used to tell me to concentrate on my studies and not in flying. I very well remember his kind wife and daughters. My very warm regards to him. I sent an old photo from the airbus as a first officer some years ago.”
Guess what? Of course Ted remembers him. That’s the kind of man he is.
We are very proud and privileged to count Ted as member of the 43 Air School team; rain or shine, fair weather or foul, Ted’s here doing what he’s always done – making his uniquely valuable contribution to the lives of his students and colleagues. Not least by showing us all by example what the qualities of a truly great instructor really are.
We salute you, Ted and wish you “tailwinds”!
(Article written by Robin Gout.)