Obituary: Maxwell Fendt


Richmond Sean MAXWELL Fendt
OC 1949-1956, Legator 

Born 28 July 1938, died 14 November 2020 

Maxwell learnt to fly with the Air Training Corps whilst at Caterham and was offered a Flying Scholarship but, to his disappointment, his Headmaster considered that it would detract too much from his school studies.  

Maxwell was a boarder at Caterham from the age of 11 to 18 and remained proud of the school and its achievements. He went on to London University to study Aeronautical Engineering but he tended more towards the Arts and moved into other fields. It was at this time that Richmond decided to adopt the name Maxwell and was known as Maxwell from then on. 

Maxwell spent his career Editing, Publishing and Promoting the Paper Industry. He visited most of the Paper Mills in the world and also the great Paper-making Machine Producers. One trip to Sweden many years ago was to producers introducing their newly invented revolutionary product ‘Tetra Pack’. Gliding crept into some of these visits of course, especially when visiting the United States of America where a few extra days would be added at the end to visit gliding sites to hire a glider. 

Another involvement with a new product at an early stage was when Fax Machines were being introduced. The World Gliding Championships were taking place in Australia that year and Maxwell contacted the manufacturers and arranged to have three machines ‘On Loan’ for the purpose of reporting the happenings and results from Australia. He then arranged to supply a report and results to The Times and The Telegraph each day. Ben Watson was managing the British Team and would be in Australia with them. He was able to fax inside knowledge and results to Maxwell who would then fax reports to the newspapers for inclusion in overnight printing for the next day’s publications. Evidently official results in Australia were very slow to appear and one day at Lasham Airfield a father of one of the pilots in Australia announced that he was telephoning his son in Australia to relay results in the Times as that was earlier than their being available in Australia. Maxwell would have been less than human if he had not smiled to himself knowing that he had brought about publication. Maxwell owned his own glider. Eventually moving up the scale to own a Ventus. He liked everything in place and his own things so although he tried partnership originally this was abandoned as soon as finance allowed. He liked to visit other gliding sites in the UK and then of course there were always those winter trips to Aboyne Airfield in Scotland to gain those necessary height achievements. He subsequently added power flying and first purchased an Auster, then a Robin and then finally to his beloved GAXOS. When GAXOS had to pass to another pilot in 2018 a fellow pilot found the perfect match – Aivis – from Latvia, someone of like mind who was going to care for GAXOS just a much. 

GAXOS left Oaksey Airfield on a December day and many watched the three-day flight of GAXOS to Latvia. A fellow pilot, Michael Nash-Wortham, flew the first leg with Aivis to familiarise him with GAXOS. Every minute of daylight and every drop of fuel was used to complete this journey and there is no doubt that however many flights Aivis may make in the future that three-day flight back to Latvia in December will be the one he never forgets. Aivis kept in touch sending videos of flights and emails and they gave so much immeasurable pleasure. Maxwell expressed a wish to stay at home and this wish was honoured. Always able to look out at a beautiful Cotswold garden and across the valley to the sky beyond.