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From the Archives — Fifty Years Ago: Canadian in Unlimited Class at Reno

Ian Brown, EAA 657159, Editor, Bits and Pieces

See the full Reno article in Sport Aviation here.

November, 2022 – This gentleman, Ormond Hayden-Baillie, seems to have been quite the competitive pilot. He emigrated from England to Canada where he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. He flew more than 30 different aircraft types and owned several T-33s. Sport Aviation, for this month fifty years ago, carried a reference to his placement in the unlimited class at the Reno Air Races.

I found this reference to him which gives a really fascinating slant to his character.

“Well, it’s a little over 30 years ago now that Ormond flew his last flight back on 3 July 1977. I remember it well - a bit like the ‘What were you doing when Kennedy was shot’ memories, but I’m not that old. For those of you that knew or met the gentleman, as I did, I think you’ll agree that he was truly one of a kind. For those that never had the privilege, well you’ll never know quite what you missed.

“I recall sitting with him at Duxford whilst he was filling in his Duxford Aviation Society membership renewal. Dithering quite what he should put in the line marked ‘occupation,’ I recall him turning to me and saying, ‘I think I’ll put Gentleman of Leisure.’ Now there’s something I wish I could say now! I remember my parents worried about me, their 8-9 year old son, spending time with a ‘middle aged’ gentleman so, one day, they popped up to Duxford to meet the man. Ormond, as was his way, charmed them both. My father owned a Vanden Plas Princess 1300 and Ormond was drawing parallels between the walnut dash and seat-back tables in the 1300 to those in his [Rolls Royce] Phantom Six! Ormond then took my mother, father and I into the little white caravan Ormond kept at the end of one of the hangars and made us all a nice cup of tea. Needless to say, my folks left understanding just what a bloody nice bloke Ormond was.

Ormond, wherever you are, rest in peace... The same sentiments of course apply to the young lad that died in the same P-51 accident.”

5 Gunther Balz, Kalamazoo, Michigan 11:18.2 416.160
77 Lyle Shelton, Cypress, California 11:37.4 404.703
11 Howie Keefe, Los Angeles, California 11:48.2 398.531
64 Clay Lacy, Van Nuys, California 12:21.0 341.891
94 Robert Mitchem, Broomfield, Colorado 13:45.3 341.985
0 Ormond Hayden-Baillie, Canada 13:48.1 340.828
1 Richard Laidley, Houston, Texas — disqualified for flying too low.

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