The Team

For this complex project, Mark has the assistance of Light Aircraft Association build inspector Will Butler.  It is Will's job to carefully inspect each of the 20 build phases to ensure compliance with the plans and quality of construction – anything that fails to meet the exacting standards will be consigned to the scrapheap!  Overseeing preparations for the 2019 event is Steve Noujaim. A former RAF Phantom pilot, Steve and Mark flew the ‘Mighty Phantom’ together on 74 (Fighter) Squadron from RAF Wattisham in the late 1980s.  Now a Virgin Airbus pilot, Steve brings the recent experience of building his own RV-7 and record-breaking ‘Cape Challenge’ in 2010, and will be key to the project.


The Navigator

Group Captain Mark Manwaring was born and educated in East London. Fascinated by aircraft and the concept of flight, it was membership of 338 (West Ham) Squadron, Air Training Corps, that gave him his first flying experience when aged 14. His dream of joining the Royal Air Force became a reality at 18 when he commenced officer training at RAF Cranwell and upon the completion of navigator training was posted to the Phantom at the age of 21. He has completed operational and instructional tours on both the Phantom and Tornado F-3 aircraft as well as 2 seasons on the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. He commanded 55(R) Squadron, RAF Cranwell, where he was responsible for the flying training of Weapon Systems Officers (Navigators) and Weapon System Operators (Loadmaster and Air Electronics Operators).

His operational tours include Operation Deny Flight (Bosnia), Operation Adana (post-911 UK Quick Reaction Alert) and Operation Herrick (Afghanistan). He has an MA in Defence Studies (King’s College London), is a Central Flying School A2 Qualified Tactics Instructor, and has been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air and NATO Meritorious Service Medal.

In his spare time, Mark is the Officer in Charge of the the RAF Halton Aero Club (the largest Military flying club); the Military Commentator at the Royal International Air Tattoo; Chairman of the RAF Cosford Airshow Flying Control Committee (responsible for supervision of all display flying); and President of 338 (West Ham) Squadron Air Training Corps.


The IT Guy

Paul Brissenden Hemstock (Paul BH) is a pilot and friend of The Navigator.

As a professional in the electronics and software engineering industry, Paul has been involved in projects from the manufacturing industry, to embedded microprocessors, to industrial control systems. Starting as an Electronic Engineering apprentice in 1987, moving into software development was a natural progression over the years. Paul and a colleague now have a systems engineering business. Emaris Limited are supporting the RAF Centenary Flight of the Navigator project through sponsorship and assistance on the technical stuff.

Paul joined the RAF Halton Aeroplane Club in 2005 as a student having always wanted to learn to fly. Soon after gaining his Private Pilots License, Paul started getting involved with club expeditions and had the opportunity to fly with The Navigator on a number of occasions. These were great learning opportunities for a relatively inexperienced pilot to fly with a professional navigator, where much experience was gained. Paul progressed with developing his skills by gaining an IMC rating in 2009, and is always looking for opportunities to learn something new.

During the club expedition in 2013 while enjoying a few post flight drinks, Mark and Paul were chatting and the basis of this website was born. The development of the website is continuing as the project evolves.


The Experience

Steve Noujaim was born in the wilds of Oxfordshire. From the start aviation was his passion, starting with toys, then Airfix aircraft, radio control models and then finally full size when he built a Vans RV7 with his wife Anna and the help of friends. The journey from the past to today has required an average ability and oceans of determination and motivation. Never give up - never surrender is his mantra.

Steve was posted to RAF Leuchars on the F4 Operational Conversion Unit. He found his natural place on the F4, revelled in its performance and capability. Steve was posted to the F4J on 74 Squadron at RAF Wattisham. After a tour on 74 Steve became a Tucano Qualified Flying Instructor at RAF Church Fenton and RAF Cranwell, before moving to the Hawk at RAF Chivenor for a Qualified Weapons Instructor tour and on its closure RAF Valley, with a final tour at RAF Leeming on 100 Squadron where he completed 16 years RAF and joined Virgin Atlantic on 747s.

In 2001 Steve and Anna bought the kit that would eventually turn in to a Vans RV7. There were many pitfalls along the way such as requiring a complete rewire a new fuel system and a myriad of adjustments, modifications and additions and testing before the RV7 G-IIXF was ready to embark on a 3 and a half day trip from London to the Cape and back. Steve completed the terrifying trip alone in 2010 setting a new World record for the return trip that had stood for 71 years. Like his hero Alex Henshaw Steve was awarded the Britannia Trophy by the Royal Aero Club. He was also awarded the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators Masters Medal, and an Illuminated Scroll from the Air League, which was presented by HRH Prince Philip.

Steve is a Captain with Virgin Atlantic and is now living in the Cotswolds. He still flys the RV 7 for fun and also has a sailplane that he is refurbishing. He will now help Mark with the worthy 'RAF Centenary Flight of the Navigator' adventure in 2019.


The Engineer & LAA Inspector

From a young age Will Butler was fascinated by aircraft, but at school found that his main talents were music and engineering. The broader interest in engineering started off on a small scale with him building Airfix kits and then moved on to radio controlled aircraft. But soon this wasn't enough and Will started his career in aircraft engineering in 1997 - working on light aircraft.

Not long after starting work on aircraft, Will became involved with the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) and soon began looking after aircraft builders and owners and their varied types of Experimental and Permit-to-Fly aircraft. As an LAA Inspector, he acts as the ‘engineering mentor’ of anyone attempting to build their own aircraft. Each Inspector has a specific list of construction materials (composite, alluminium, wood, etc) and inspection stages (from basic construction to first flight approvals) they are qualified in. This area of work has continued to build and has included working with Steve and Anna Noujaim in overseeing all engineering aspects of the Cape Challenge.

Will now works for one of the largest light aircraft maintenance facilities in the UK as a Certificate of Airworthiness aircraft inspector/engineer - working mainly on the advanced Cirrus aircraft. In his spare time he likes to be involved with as many aspects of aviation as possible, has built a Van’s RV-8 (the tandem-seat version of the RV-7) and is looking forward working with Mark on this record breaking flight.