Coming to global bookstores - available on the world wide web and audiobooks in 2023. A 46-year memoir in the making.
What you'll find inside:
The story of how the son of a tailor in England took his passion for aviation and developed that love of flying to become a founding partner in one of the world’s premier private airline charter companies.
Follow these steps along his fascinating journey:
Son of a Tailor
"Would you like a job?"
Explosive device on board?
A gorilla, flying an airplane!
Locked in cockpit, spotted immigration officer guard and gun.
Flying with Rock and Roll.
Putting Safety first.
9/11 - Just a single blip on the radar.
The tsunami Christmas.
Katrina and Rita - Largest airlift since World War II.
Rockets and the Monster.
Setting 732 oil wells on fire - global environmental disaster.
Personality happy drugs - firearms and a baseball bat.
The Light that Shines.
People in the aviation business, perhaps like no other, are filled with passion and enthusiasm for what they do, and Tracey Deakin is one of those individuals. Since encountering Tracey's remarkable 'can-do' attitude for the first time more than 30 years ago, I have witnessed him use these innate qualities to help pilot a fledgling aviation charter company from the ground up into a leading global organization.
Telling the story of his aviation roots and the growth of Le Bas International in his own inimitable style, Tracey gives us not only a blueprint for how to build and manage a successful aviation business but also a glimpse into the vanished golden era of early large jet and turboprop air cargo operations in Europe and Africa.
Ranging from adventures carrying cargoes of calves over the Alps in temperamental Bristol Britannia freighters during his early days at Invicta International Airlines – a long vanished British charter carrier – to dangerous flights to Africa in elderly Douglas DC-8s, Tracey’s tales recall an almost totally forgotten 'tramp steamer' age of the aviation business.
Following a roundabout course through flying stints in the British Channel Islands and Datapost in the UK, Tracey then tells us about his unplanned entre to executive aviation and the start of his journey into managing corporate and private charters. After formative experiences with operators ranging from El Al to Zambia Airways, Tracey's big break comes in the late 1980s with a typically Deakin ‘he who dares wins' move to the U.S.A. and the start of a love affair with America which lasts to this day.
Working his way into operations in California with the start-up Le Bas company, Tracey's story recounts exhausting round-the-clock days to establish credibility and carve out a niche in a highly competitive landscape. Soaring to new heights, he recounts the company’s early major charter achievements like organizing the world tour for British band Pink Floyd, Hollywood 'A-listers' and other celebrities.
But while passion and enthusiasm can carry you through a lot, the real test if often how you react when things go wrong. In December 1993 Tracey faced just such a test when a Le Bas chartered aircraft carrying Rich Snyder and other executives of the In-N-Out burger chain company crashed on approach to John Wayne-Orange County Airport in California.
The IAI Westwind was returning Snyder and his group from opening the 93rd In-N-Out restaurant in Fresno but was tragically caught in the wake of a United Airlines Boeing 757 on the approach to the airport. Although tracking the instrument landing system on a normal glideslope and following standard separation procedures, the Westwind suddenly flew into the ground around four miles from the runway, killing all aboard.
Investigations soon showed that the aircraft hit the wake of the 757 when it was 2 miles in trail and 400 ft. below the United airliner. Shocked to the core by the event, Tracey led efforts to change standards under which some aircraft are separated from each other on final approach. At the time I witnessed first-hand Tracey’s determination to get at the wake turbulence problem as I helped with his research into the existing standards and with writing letters to the FAA.
As a result of this accident, as well as several similar events between 1983 and 1993, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), conducted a special investigation that resulted in wake turbulence being added to what the NTSB called its 'Most Wanted' list of safety concerns in 1995. Tracey's actions, amongst others, helped prompt the FAA into a series of improvements – critically including more spacing behind 757s - and wake turbulence was removed from the Most Wanted list in 1998.
The "In-N-Out" accident began an industry changing phase of research and additional safety procedures to prevent similar incidents from occurring again, and it also put renewed energy into Tracey's passion for improved operational safety. Le Bas developed the Air Carrier's Commercial Operating Manual to help maintain higher standards and promoted safety rules and requirements that are now codified into U.S. Department of Transport regulations for air charter companies.
Beyond the critical aspect of safety, Tracey's inspirational charter story also embraces a vast range of experiences from organizing humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions to helping with movie shoots and flying large groups to remote islands to witness rocket launches. Whether he's dispensing lessons on how to treat customers, improving safety or simply amusing us with anecdotes, the bottom line is Tracey's aviation life has – and continues to be – fueled by passion and an infectious enthusiasm that leaps out at you from these pages.
Tracey is also irrepressibly positive and through his story reminds us that both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. In particular - to use the well-known quote, as applied to aviation the optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.
Guy Norris, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
Click here to learn more about the author, Tracey Deakin.