IFALPA's Hall of Fame

"ALPHA" - Captain Lawrence (Lawrie) Arthur DFC. 

Lawrie was born of Irish parents in County Durham, England, on 15th October 1919, and his first flights were with an "Aerial Circus" when he was seven and 13 years old. At the age of 14 he started work with a manufacturer of turbine engines and later took the entrance examination to join the Royal Air Force at Halton School of Technical Training as a "boy entrant" aged 151/2.

On completion of a three year technical course he was a fully qualified fitter, an air-gunner on the last biplane bomber of the RAF and gaining pilot experience under supervision at the flight controls of Whitley bombers. This varied experience continued on later aircraft and Lawrie was in charge of the wartime servicing of 12 aircraft at the age of 22 years.

He married Jane in 1941 and lived "off base" in a civilian house, but after only 24 hours of honeymoon leave received a War Office order to share his home with Polish, French and Czech-Slovakian airmen who were awaiting transfer to other units. In 1942 Lawrie started pilot training, flying Gypsy Moth trainer aircraft in Scotland brfore gaining his wings at Miami, Oklahoma, USA where he was commissioned as Pilot Officer and returned to England for advanced training. He flew 30 combat missions, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and designed the crest of his squadron – No. 576.

In 1945 Lawrie gained civil licenses and while still serving in the RAF was seconded to BOAC to fly "airliner" conversions of the Lancaster bomber on the England to Australian route thus gaining his first direct interest in international civil aviation. He attended the first post-war Anglo American Aeronautical Conference, where he met Juan Trippe of Pan American Airways and Edward Warner first President of ICAO. In 1947 Lawrie resigned from the RAF, took civil employment with BOAC, joined BALPA and became involved in the technical work of the newly-formed IFALPA.

As an airline pilot instructor Lawrie trained pilots of many countries and was responsible for airline preparations to use pilot operated HFRT in place of radio telegraphy. Active in both BALPA and IFALPA he was chief IFALPA delegate at more then ten major ICAO meetings over a period of 15 years. He held responsible positions in BALPA, was a Principal Officer of IFALPA, represented pilots at judicial and disciplinary hearings in several countries and when he retired from British Airways in 1973 joined ICAO as field expert in the Asia Region.

Lawrie was later prominent in Technical Assistance programmes in the MID and AFI Regions and was well known in civil aviation circles in more than forty countries. One of his last assignment in ICAO was to represent it at the 1984 IFALPA conference in Israel, thereby neatly completing a circular career in civil aviation during which he accumulated 21,910 hours and made many friends. Lawrie received awards from BALPA, IFALPA, ICAO and the Royal Meteorological Society and a warm tribute from ICAO on his retirement from that organization. A letter from the Chief of Personnel used the expression "outstanding" and comments on his twice extended service as "splendid pioneer work".

Lawrie's unusually full life reached its end in August 1992.

by Laurie Taylor

User login