a personal memoir

Lord Caryll Waterpark, a great name in English private and business aviation

By Alex Kvassay
Former salesman for Beech and Learjet

Lord Waterpark flew a broad variety of aircraft, from Pipers to Learjets, over his 60-year flying career.

Lord Caryll Waterpark, full name Frederick Caryll Philip Cavendish, 7th Baron of Waterpark, was a noted British aviator. During WW2 he was an officer of the Grenadier Guards. On one of his assignments he guarded the captured Chief of the German Navy, Admiral Doenitz.

A lifetime pilot for 60 years, Waterpark accumulated 11,500 hours as a pilot in command flying various airplanes from Pipers to Learjets. He joined Oxford-based CSE Aviation as sales director in 1959, and was a founding member of The Air Squadron, a private flying organization initiated in 1966 for which he led air tours all over the world.

I first met Waterpark because Learjet President Harry Combs insisted in having a dealer in the United Kingdom. I didn't think we had much of a market there as the Learjet was not yet certified in England. But orders are orders, so I asked my old friend, British aviation expert Rod Simpson, to survey the existing aircraft sales operations.

Prior to departure from Los Angeles in a Learjet 36 bound for Honolulu are (L–R) Garrett AiResearch Pres Harry Wetzel (maker of the Lear 36 engines), Alex Kvassay, Lord Waterpark, Learjet Pres Harry Combs, Learjet PIC Jim Bir and Learjet Flight Engineer Wes Lumry.

Rod recommended CSE, a large aircraft sales and training operation that was representing and selling Piper airplanes in Oxford. So I traveled to Oxford and met Lord Kildare, later Duke of Leinster, who was CSE's chairman, and Rex Smith, OBE, the president.

Selling Learjets interested them, but they were concerned as to whether or not the Oxford airport could handle jet operations. Jim Bir and I flew to Oxford in a borrowed Belgian Learjet, and the demonstration was a complete success. Our flight impressed and so did the aircraft, so they signed up.

Learjet was awarded British certification in 1973. At the presentation ceremony were (L–R) Lord Caryll Waterpark, sales director of CSE Aviation; Harry Combs, president of Gates Learjet; and Walter Tye, director of safety of the British Department of Transport.

Later, I invited Lord Waterpark to come along on a demonstration tour and fly aboard our Learjet 25 demonstrator. He came as a guest and unpaid occasional crew member. It was a great trip. We circled all of South America and also did some sightseeing by detouring to see the famed Iguazu Falls. However, it was not all a pleasure cruise for Caryll. While visiting the Embraer factory at São José dos Campos, he signed up his own company as a distributor in Britain for their airplanes.

On a similar trip to the Middle East and Africa, we stopped in Oman, where Caryll managed to sell a Learjet 35 to the local police chief, an immigrant from Ceylon. Even after claiming independence, much of the country's military and police forces were still staffed by British officers. Obtaining a visa to Oman was difficult as they had few embassies or consulates abroad at that time, but we managed to do so well that we never saw an immigration or customs officer when taxiing directly to and from the police department's hangar. They even escorted us safely to our hotel as special guests in police cars.

After overnighting in Honolulu, the crew of PIC Jim Bir, Alex Kvassay, Flight Engineer Wes Lumry, and Lord Caryll Waterpark flew the Learjet 36 non-stop to Wichita, which, had time permitted completion of proper paperwork, would have constituted another record flight for the Learjet.

On a side trip from Nairobi to the Seychelles Islands, where Lord Waterpark had lived many years earlier, we were faced with a small problem: We forgot to close the Learjet crossflow fuel valve with the obvious consequences that the airplane was leaning to one side. But having all our passengers sit on the right wing side eventually balanced out the problem.

Our last trip together, before I left Learjet in 1976, was the most notable. Caryll came along as the 4th crew member on our flight from Paris to Los Angeles, via Frobisher Bay in Canada, and then on to Honolulu in our long-range Lear 36. Jim Bir, Wes Lumry, Lord Waterpark, and myself constituted that crew. Because this was decided on the spur of the moment, we were unable to organize an officially recognized record flight, but we went anyway for the sales publicity value of it.

On a trip from Nairobi to the Seychelles Islands, the crew inadvertently forgot to close the crossflow valve, causing a temporary listing of the airplane, shown here behind Learjet Demonstration Pilot Jim Bir.

On our arrival in Honolulu in the afternoon, we suggested to Caryll that he go ahead to our hotel, the Royal Hawaiian, and look around in town as he had never visited there before. In the meantime, we remained at the airport to prepare the aircraft for the long flight the next morning.

When we made it to the hotel, we were greeted by an anxious Hawaiian lady receptionist. She was concerned because I made the reservations for the rooms, but Caryll didn't like his and moved into a suite. The worried receptionist asked if that was alright. I reassured her, "It is certainly okay since we take good care of our copilots." She was somewhat puzzled by that remark.

After joining with the Duncans of Duncan Aviation in Lincoln NE, we manged to purchase CSE's Learjet 35 because it was no longer possible to operate the aircraft with US registration in the UK. I lost contact with Caryll after he moved to France with his French wife Danielle. I heard that after retirement, he operated a Cessna Citation for exclusive hunting trips to Africa. Lord Waterpark passed away in 2013 at the age of 87.

Alex Kvassay spent 30 years in international business aviation sales, working for both Beech and Learjet, concluding with Management Jets Worldwide, of which he was CEO, based in Paris. His book, "Alex in Wonderland", outlines his life and career. Now 90, his 300 scrapbooks assembled after each of his milestone trips abroad, serve as basis for this series.