The opening paragraph of Geoff Beckett's book, ‘Brushes with Aviation’, reads, “The first of my brushes with aviation, so I have been told, was in July 1930, when I pursued the airship R100, as it flew over my home town of Reading. I was in my pram, just a few weeks old ... "
From this, it doesn’t take long to work out that Geoff is now in his early 80s but, remarkably, even though he has more than one hundred carefully researched and intricately worked aviation paintings to his credit, he has only been painting for some fifteen years.
In ‘Brushes with Aviation’ he recounts how he began painting after he had retired from business in 1996, concentrating on the local aviation history which he already knew so well, having led the efforts to create a local museum. Despite his late start, in 1998, and again the following year, he had three paintings selected for the prestigious ‘Aviation Paintings of the Year’ exhibition.
However, he never did get to see his paintings in the 1999 exhibition, because he suffered a stroke and spent nearly three months in hospital, learning to walk and use his left arm again. Even that setback was put to good use because, in hospital, he began to write the story you can read in ‘Brushes with Aviation’.
For the next ten years Geoff continued to paint and write, concentrating almost exclusively on recording the aviation history of the historic Royal County of Berkshire. It was a single-minded dedication and, indeed, a labour of love that is probably unique in the recording of aviation history.
In this website you have the opportunity to review Geoff’s remarkable output as both an artist and an author. You will see the many paintings he has donated to Museums in Berkshire. However, there are still paintings left that he created specially to tell one of the stories about Berkshire’s outstanding aviation history and these are available for sale as you will see on the Paintings page. You could also purchase a signed copy of ‘Brushes with Aviation’, Geoff’s informative and entertaining book that is so unlike the majority of (slightly boring?) aviation books you will usually find. Perhaps you would like a First Edition Collector’s copy that includes a unique ‘remarque ’of an aircraft featured in the book, drawn in pencil by Geoff on the inside front cover. If you have a favourite type of aircraft that flew in the Berkshire story, this unique copy of the book might still be available, waiting for you.
We hope you will enjoy your trip through aviation’s memory lane with someone who, in his own small way, helped to shape it.
The website covers Geoff Beckett and his story of aviation in the Royal County of Berkshire through oil and watercolour paintings
and in his art and photographic book "Brushes with Aviation" which together cover the history of Miles Aircraft and Fairey Aviation
as well as many aspects of the RAF, the USAF, D-Day
The story is of particular relevance in Reading, Woodley, Aldermaston, Abingdon, Harwell, Maidenhead, Newbury
and the counties of Berkshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire