By Andy Vevers 27 Jul 2023 6 min read

International Day of Friendship: Ex-Pilot shares their story on working in aviation with their best friend!

As July takes flight, we eagerly anticipate the arrival of a day that exemplifies the very essence of harmony and collaboration - the International Day of Friendship on July 30th. Within the aviation industry, this date holds particular significance as we come together to celebrate the unbreakable bonds that transcend borders and cultures.

Just as aircraft traverse the skies, connecting distant lands, this special day serves as a reminder of the interconnectedness that defines our global aviation community. So, as the aviation job seekers of today embark on their journey to find new horizons in this dynamic field, let us seize this opportunity to reflect on the power of friendship and how it propels us towards achieving unparalleled heights of success and fulfilment.

Recently, we spoke to Nick Eades, a former 747 Captain for British Airways for 34 years. He has discussed his and his best friend, Pete's story on how they both got into aviation, the different pilot jobs they both had and where they are currently in their careers. Nick also discusses how fortunate he was to share the cockpit and helping learn how to fly.



When did you first meet your best friend?

The year was 1959. In a small back garden of a council house in south London a young boy found a hole in the garden fence. His mother watched as her son disappeared into the gap. Two minutes later he returned dragging another little boy behind him. “Look mummy I’ve found a friend” were the words that started a lifelong friendship. 

Sixty-four years later we are still best friends. This is despite the fact that I moved away from south London two years later. Most friendships would have withered and died as we were now separated by what seemed an insurmountable distance. My family had moved down to the south coast of England, very close to one of the oldest grass airfields in the world, Shoreham Airport.


How did both of your aviation journeys go?

As the years past my friend, Peter Brown, would come and stay each school holiday. We had a shared interest in flying but ended up with very different pilot jobs, I came from an aviation family and Pete’s father had served with distinction in the Royal Air Force. Pete went on to join the RAF and I sought out a career in civil aviation. Neither of us were particularly successful. We were not as successful parted as we were together. Pete left the Air Force and I gave up the idea of flying for one of the major airlines, nobody wanted two slightly eccentric teenagers. 

By this time I had managed to save enough money by washing and cleaning aircraft to pay for some flying lessons. Eventually I became a flying instructor. At the same time Pete finally left the military to pursue a career in civilian aviation. Of course the most obvious solution was for me to teach Pete to fly, he had been a navigator in the RAF. One of the most memorable moments from that time was sending Pete on his first solo. 

As I stood on the side of the runway watching this little aircraft wobble it’s way into the sky I clearly remember thinking, “If this goes wrong where the hell am I going to find another best friend?” Ten minutes and a few bounces later we were reunited and a new chapter opened up for both of us. Two years later Pete and I were running our own executive jet company out of London Gatwick. We stood together on the tarmac to welcome aboard a new pop group. We went on to fly them on the Joshua Tree Tour. I think U2 managed a reasonably successful career as well. 

Towards the end of the 1980’s the chance to fly the Boeing 747 presented itself, an opportunity that I could not refuse. Pete decided that management was more attractive than flying. He went on to operate the incredible Antonov freight aircraft, a job that took him all over the world. We continued to be best friends and our paths would often cross in some of the most interesting corners of the world. 


Where are you both currently in your careers?

I finally retired from flying last year after nearly fifty years of safely flying passengers all over the world. This included a world record-breaking 34 years on the Queen of the Skies, the incredible Boeing 747. Pete still moves record-breaking cargo around the world as well as being incredibly successful in the aviation story of the future, Drones. We still talk almost every day, much to the annoyance of our partners. We still regularly go for a beer or a game of tennis or golf. Nothing has ever come between us in the past 64 years and nothing ever will. We are more than brothers, we are lifelong best friends.

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