Jack Sydney Sheppard

 imperial airways jack sheppard 1938 c. 1938



b. Ballybrophy, Ireland 4 Dec 1900

Recruited by Charles Kingsford Smith as a pilot for Australian National Airways 1929-30, then joined Imperial Airways

November 1935: "'PLANE OVERSHOOTS AERODROME Imperial Airways Pilot Injured. Rangoon, Saturday.

The right wing of an Imperial Airways 'plane was damaged at Rangoon to-day when the machine overshot the aerodrome when landing.

The pilot, Chief Pilot Mr J. S. Sheppard, was slightly injured, but the two passengers are said to be uninjured. The machine was an eastbound one.

It is understood that Captain Sheppard is one of the company's best-known pilots. A native of Ballybrophy, Ireland, he is 35 years of age and served in the R.A.F. from 1918-29. He was a member of the North Russian Relief Expedition in 1919. For a year he was a pilot with Australian National Airways. He is now pilot to the Imperial Airways on their Cairo-Khartoum service and stationed at Heliopolis, Egypt. In October, Captain Sheppard piloted the Imperial Airways liner 'Atlanta' when making a record day's flight of 1777 miles from Dodoma, Tanganyika, to Johannesburg."

Promoted to Senior Master in October 1938

Jack flew the last civilian flight out of Singapore in 1942, piloting an Imperial Airways Short Empire Flying Boat.

based Heliopolis

His son-in-law tells me that "Born in Kildare in 1900, Jack was a real 'rags to riches' story. From a poor Irish farm, he left school at 14 to become an engine mechanic. He joined the RFC as a mechanic and transferred to the RAF in 1918, qualifying as a PFO in time to just miss the end of WW1.

He flew as a Captain with the Expeditionary Force in Russia, rejoined the RAF having gone down a rank to retain a position. He regained his Captain / PFO position and was a pilot of DH3 biplanes out of Netheravon in 1923. He decided to move to civil aviation in 1929 and moved to Australia for 12 months (where he met Kingsford-Smith and others).

He became a Captain in Imperial Airways in 1930. Starting in Croydon, he moved to lead a 'silver age' lifestyle in Egypt in the 1930's, lived at Heliopolis, drove an open MG sports car, and became good friends with other pilots (including Rhinie Caspareuthus). 
He became Senior Captain within 2 - 3 years, and became well known for airmail (London to Durban) records. He soon had 4 or 5 regular runs.
He married a South African lady in 1941 in Durban and planned to leave Imperial Airways in 1945. Jack retired to Ireland in 1945 where he became a farmer and horse owner / trainer. He finally retired to Durban in 1969 and died there in 1982."


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