A man who helped to build both SRN4 Princess Hovercrafts has added his signature to the petition to save the Princess Anne and Princess Margaret. Phil Phillips, now in his 70s and in New Zealand, built the entire port side front lounge or cabin with the help of one apprentice. Yes, just two men! On top of these structures later, is where the pilot’s small cockpit eventually sat. Phil says, “It was the biggest structure I have ever built and I can only compare it to building a house. It was that big! This forward cabin could seat 50 people.”
Saddened by the news that the SRN4 museum pieces are under threat of being scrapped, Phil has started to record his memories of working on these giant hovers. This follows the suggestion by Solent Aviatrix. It is hoped his record of his working days will eventually become part of a future Isle of Wight Aviation Heritage Centre.
He told Solent Aviatrix, “I have to be grateful to Saunders-Roe for giving me the best apprenticeship you could get anywhere and your skills never leave you. I remember the maintenance staff having to remove part of the front of the SARO hanger to be able to get the hovercraft out onto the concrete pan. Once outside we were still finishing things as they were doing hover tests. Very exciting stuff.”
After leaving SARO, Phil worked for 9 months with Britten-Norman. He says, “I did a few small modifications on the Cushion Craft in that photo on your website.”