To the literally thousands of people whose lives he's touched - - Tubby Singleton was loved, respected and admired. He was a Korean War hero at the age of 20, the youngest ever recipient of the DFC from the USA, an aviator with over 22000 hours under his belt, instructor, accident investigator, friend, mentor and leader.
Brian William Singleton was born in 1932. He matriculated from Marist Brothers College followed by two years at Wits studying Mechanical Engineering. He joined the SAAF in 1950 and went solo in a Tiger Moth in May of that year under the instruction of Messrs Gray and O'Reilly.
He then graduated to Harvards and soloed on July 6 1950 with a total of 57 hours. On August 25 1951, Brian received his wings at Dunnottar Central Flying School. He was then posted to Langerbaanweg for a Spitfire conversion and on December 5, 1951 he went solo in a Spitfire MK 5531. A few months later, in February 1952, the young prodigy qualified as a fighter/bomber pilot. As part of the No 2 Cheetah Squadron, Tubby went solo in a Mustang 308, with 262 flying hours under his belt.
During a close support interdiction on 28 June 1952, he achieved 100% bombing coverage and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross at the ripe old age of 20!
After 60 sorties he returned to Dunnottar to become a flying instructor and on July 26 1953 he took his future wife -- Shirley Boyd -- for a flip in a Tiger Moth. He moved to the Rand Flying Club as Chief Flight Instructor on Piper Cubs, Tripacers, Aeroncas and Hornet Moths, while still continuing as a SAAF instructor. By the end of 1953, he'd achieved the first 1000 of the 22 000 hours he would eventually fly in his career. By the middle of 1955, aerobatics had caught on in a big way and Tubby was instrumental in training many of the best known pilots in this extremely demanding discipline.
By September 1956, Tubby had passed 3 000 hours and enjoyed the right hand seat of a Viking alongside Captain Sneglar, flying to Ndola, Entebbe, Khartoum, Wadi Haifa, Juba, Athens, Malta, Luxemburg and Lagos to name a few. By 1959, Tubby had 5000 hours and joined SAA as Senior 1st Officer on Dakotas with captains Britton, Boyd and Godfrey. In early 1961 the DC 4 was introduced and naturally, Tubby was one of the first pilots to fly it. By the end of 1964, Tubby had clocked up 8 500 hours, mostly on Viscounts, flying alongside such well known aviators as Beamish, Trotter, Tindall, Pienaar, Rademan, Smith, Wood, Bird and Young. On November 2 1965, Tubby qualified on the Boeing 707, which he flew until 1967. During this period, Tubby achieved the SA Gliding altitude record of 33000 feet and also helped found The SA Pilot, which became the official mouthpiece of the SAA Pilots association. In 1970, he joined Trek Airways on 707's, flying to Lisbon, Madrid, Rome, Luxemburg, Bangkok and Smuts. At the end of 1973, Tubby, with14 000 on the clock, joined Rossair where he flew DC-4's, DC-3's and C421's with pilots such as Hopkins, Meredith, Clegg, Maritz and Atherstone. He also spent time flying to Botswana, where he developed a deep love of the bush which led him to become involved in charter flights to the Okavango. During this time, Tubby was afflicted with a life-threatening disease, resulting in the loss of his ALTP and flying medical, rendering him out of work. But in his inimitable way, not only did he beat the disease, but after two years, he regained all his licenses and was declared medically fit to fly! He moved on to do aircraft accident investigation for the next 5 years. In the early nineties, Tubby became a Designated Examiner and in 1993, he passed the 22000 hour mark, with no less than 94 PI type ratings. In 2010, after 60 eventful years of living life to the full and serving all those around him for 60 years in the South African Aviation Industry, he finally called it a day.