Well known aviator Fred Bebington, passed away

Fred with Brian Emmenis
Fred with Brian Emmenis

Fred will be remembered by the aviation community as someone with a huge passion for aviation and he passionately served this country on committees of the Soaring Society of SA and others. He was also involved with Mayday SA. Fred was very much a family man and very proud of his son Stuart who followed in his father’s aviation footsteps, and is now an Air Traffic Controller at ATNS, O.R Tambo Airport Johannesburg. His daughter, Beverley Anne is living in Southend

He was born in Port Elizabeth , went to Grey’s Junior and High School where he played prop forward, going on to play for Crusaders Rugby Club in P.E. He then joined the South African Defence Force, rose to Captain and later becoming a Tank Commander.

An old friend, Alan Lentle, says they were looking forward to meeting this year to visit Duxford and other museums and of course flying together.

“Fred worked for Ford Motor company in P E before moving to Kloof displaying new imported mustangs, galaxies and other luxury vehicles to branches throughout South Africa, He could keep you awake all night with his stories.

“He started gliding in Uitenhage 1966, and become an instructor a few years later. I met Fred in 1980 when he belonged to Howick Gliding Club while on a fly away. I was asked to check him out, only to discover he had a lot more experience than I, the flight was full of laughs, he later joined us at Estcourt Gliding Club, He was mad and loved teaching spinning while I taught cross country,

During this time we became friends and shared an interest in safety, he becoming club safety officer later representing the clubs in KZN, only to be catapulted onto Soaring Society as Safety Officer for whole country, His Moto was If you are going to DO IT, DO IT RIGHT AFTER taking variuos safety courses, he joined the Air Show Cercuit,

The airline industry started to expand and he as involved with several new airlines

I would try and join him at the air shows, one day flying into Welkome in a 90 deg gusting crosswind, I touched down only to see another aircraft on its back. Fred said the pilot is ok, he had landed just before me. I refused to fly in the show until Scully requested I open it as his team was not ready,

I moved to UK in 2017, we would contact each other daily on Whatsapp and talk once a week, As I still fly in UK, safety issues were often discussed, His safety bulletins would go out to various clubs and to my daughter Julie in Australia,” says Allan.

Fred was an ASSA Safety Officer and as such responsible for the safe conduct of many airshows in South Africa. Being a Safety Officer at an airshow is certainly no easy task and he did a great job in particular with regard to interfacing between the other officials involved and the participating pilots. In the words of Mazda Extra 300 pilot and Lift A320 Captain Bradley Bennets: “a real gentleman was Fred”. As a member of the media at airshows he officiated at,”

Our sincere condolences to his wife Anne, children and other family.