Hamish Harding 1964-2023
With the death of Hamish Harding, the business aviation market this week sadly lost one of its biggest characters.
It was always fun watching Hamish light up with excitement. The subject did not have to be one of his adventures: going to space, flying cheetahs to India, traversing the Challenger Deep or climbing Kilimanjaro (although it often was). It could also be a deal he was working on or his view on a certain aircraft type.
Hamish was obsessed with aviation from an early age and learnt to fly at Cambridge University. He moved into business aviation after a successful career in IT. He launched Action Aviation in 2004 to distribute Sino Swearingen SyberJet SJ30 aircraft. The company name fitted his life perfectly.
Hamish loved the SJ30 but the programme failed. Both he and Mark Butler, Action’s MD, vowed to never distribute aircraft again. Instead, Action Aviation became a dealer-broker. Happy to put its own cash on the line, the company specialised in buying aircraft around the world.
A brave buyer, Action often has several aircraft in inventory at a time. Hamish said that he tried to learn from every deal he closed.
The Action Aviation office in Hamish’s villa on Dubai’s The Palm is unique. On the wall there is every credit card that Hamish had owned and a tree holding more than 30 years’ of mobile phones. There is a giant Emirates A380 and a bathtub that Action Aviation was given by the Dubai government. Outside on the beach, there is a replica of the sign at the top of Kilimanjaro. Hamish had this made just in case he did not make it to the top. He signed a LOI with several broker friends while on the summit.
Although he spent some of his childhood in Hong Kong and much of his life in the Middle East and India (a country he loved), Hamish was very English. He came across as a Gentleman-Amateur, like the Victorian explorers he admired.
Hamish rarely looked like he was working hard. But he did. The Action Aviation team would often spend all night closing deals involving Asian sellers and US buyers.
He loved doing deals almost as much as he loved exploring. When he was flying around the world on a Gulfstream G650, to win the world record for the fastest pole-to-pole circumnavigation, he was still sending messages relating to an aircraft deal as he passed over the Antarctic.
His Gentleman-Amateur style hid a dedicated profit hunter, as many who acted on the other side of a deal discovered.
Our thoughts are with his family and the close-knit team at Action Aviation.
The statement they issued yesterday said: “He was one of a kind and we adored him. He was a passionate explorer – whatever the terrain –- who lived his life for his family, his business and for the next adventure. What he achieved in his lifetime was truly remarkable and if we can take any small consolation from this tragedy, it’s that we lost him doing what he loved. He will leave a gap in our lives that can never be filled.”
He will be missed.
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