Always an eye up to the skies

Barry Besold

BARRY Besold was born in Brooklyn, New York to Henry and Francis Besold.

His love for aircraft and flying began when he was about 10. His uncle Frank had a Cessna tail dragger that they flew and this experience hooked him on aviation.

When he graduated from university the Vietnam War was in full swing and he visited the Air Force recruiter where he applied and tested to become a pilot.

In December 1967 his first son, Barry Dwayne, was born while he was training in Texas.

Graduation was followed by survival training basis in Seattle, Washington, jungle training in Philippines and water training in Okinawa, Japan. Then he was assigned to an US Air Base in Taiwan where he rotated in and out of Vietnam and Thailand.

He only served one year in Vietnam and was next assigned to Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina. This was where his second son, Brian, was born.

During his 21 years in the US Air Force he was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters and several other ribbons and citations.

He took his first commercial pilot position as a Cessna 402 captain flying tourists to the Grand Canyon then was hired by Southern Air Transport.

There were freight flights to South America and humanitarian aid to Angola, Somalia, The Sudan and Ethiopia.

Then it was on to Papua New Guinea on a contract between Chevron Oil and Lake Kutabu.

Shortly after his arrival in Lae he met Pamela Price who was involved with the local artefact store and doing voluntary work with children at the school. He found her to not only be beautiful but adventurous too.

They had many great experiences together in Papua New Guinea and found the local people warm and friendly. Pamela was part of his flying team for three years.

After PNG Pamela moved to Las Vegas to live as Barry was sent to the Persian Gulf flying into Kuwait to provide supplies and equipment for the fire fighters.

During Barry’s flying in Africa Pamela again became a regular member of the team. They had some very memorable times in Mombassa and Nairobi, Kenya. 

He was upgraded to captain on the L-382 in June 1994 and in December was asked to go to the Boeing 747. This was quite a jump from the right seat of a ‘Herc' to the left seat of the 747 in just six months. 

In January 1999 Barry signed on as a contract captain with China Airlines based in Taiwan. Shortly after this, they relocated to Australia and found a lovely house in Port Lincoln.

He flew both passenger and freight for CAL where all the other crew members were Taiwanese. Some of the crew had very limited English which proved to be a constant challenge.

In June 2003 CAL retired Barry due a mandatory retirement age of 60.

He then returned home to Australia and Pamela encouraged him to get his Aussie pilot’s licence. He also obtained his commercial licence.

During his third ‘retirement’, Pamela noticed something was wrong and encouraged him to find another flying job.

In May 2004 he was hired by Air Atlanta Icelandic and once again he was in the 747 as captain flying cargo for Malaysian Airlines, Lufthansa, Cargolux and Cathay Pacific on wet lease contracts.

His 747 flying came to an end in January 2006 with contract cut backs and lay offs.

However, sometime after that he was told by friend Kiwi White that Stehr Group was looking for a pilot to fly their Cessna-337. He was hired to fly staff and business associates between Port Lincoln and Whyalla.

After a few trips he was asked to fly tuna spotting with Kiwi White as the spotter. He flew the ‘push-pull’ airframe for two seasons for both Tony’s Tuna and the Stehr Group.

Flying was his life and his life was flying. When he ended his flying career he still had the same enthusiasm as when he started. It was always his wish to fly and train others for as long as he was able.

Over their years together Pamela always encouraged and supported his flying career, which rarely allowed the luxury of being together.

He was often home only about four weeks a year and spent more than five years of his life in air above 35,000 feet.

he had a rare lung disease and had been sick for many years.

He was not a complainer and did not let it get in the way of enjoying life, their grandchildren and flying.

A memorial service was held at Skypark on Saturday with local pilots flying the ‘missing man’ formation in his honour before a flyover across the city.