Meet our Instructors 


Andrew Hopper 


Andrew completed his PPL with TG Aviation when he was 19, whilst at University studying Aeronautical Engineering. 

After this he moved to NZ for a year and flew from the North Shore Aero Club near Auckland building hours for his commercial. 

Once he returned he was accepted by Oxford Aviation for the ATPL/IR course.

Soon after completing his commercial training he came back to us at TG and completed his instructor rating with Ted, then went on to instruct for TG full time. 

In 2008 Andrew completed his A320 rating and was offered a job at Tiger Airways Singapore and became Captain in 2011. Eventually Tiger Airways became part of Singapore Airlines. Andrew continued to fly with them whilst instructing in his spare time when in the UK. He has flown all over Asia, China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and flown microlights in the Philippines.

In 2019 he returned to the UK and started instructing full time. He has around about 11,500 flying hours and 3,500 hours instructing. 


Andrew also has his own Robin 2112 Aerobatic aircraft for fun at the weekends.


Craig Brierley


Craig learnt to fly at Manston with SECOAT in the early 90’s qualifying with a CPL/IR (frozen ATPL) in 1995 and got his instructor rating a year later.

He flew with Ted Girdler (Late founder of TG) a couple of times in the early days so TG has been in his aviation life since the beginning. He started instructing for us in 2002.

Craig's aviation experience is spread across roughly 30 aircraft types. He flew from White Waltham, Redhill and Stapleford with Avia special, flying Tiger Moths.


In 2005 he joined Air Atlantique and then RVL, piloting the Coastguard Islander.


In 2008 he started to fly Learjets out of Biggin Hill, for a private charter company. 

Since 2014 he has flown for Classic wings, flying Tiger moths, Rapides and a Harvard . As well as coming back to TG at Lydd to instruct.


Craig also flies our Boeing Stearman out of Pent Farm. 

He holds a aerobatic instructor rating with around 3000 hours of instructing and a total of 5500 hours flying. 



Gary Merchant 

Flying has been in Gary’s blood since birth, both his parents were private pilots. He learnt to fly at Biggin Hill in the early 90s becoming an instructor. He spent 3 years in the corporate charter world flying the Dornier 228, Beech Kingair and the Citation Jet.

In 2001 he started flying from London City Airport on the Dornier 328 operating the schedules to and from Scotland and by 2003 he was flying the Boeing 737 from Edinburgh and London Stansted for a growing low cost airline.

Since 2004 he has been flying the Airbus A319/A320 based at London Gatwick operating all over Europe, he has been a Captain since 2006.

Always having had a keen interest in GA he continues instructing and examining. As well as working for TG he also instructs on the vintage fleet for Shipping and Airlines at Biggin Hill. His other non flying roles include being the Chairman of The Nick Davidson Memorial Flying Scholarship and a member of the Commercial Air Transport safety group for the Honourable Company of Air Pilots. He has logged just over 17,000 hours.

Sam Whatmough.jpg


Sam Whatmough

Sam started flying aged 15 at Biggin Hill and funded his PPL through a very generous mum and numerous jobs at the airport - everything from washing the airplanes through to a Air Traffic Control Assistant.


He was lucky enough to be selected for the British Airways sponsored cadet scheme and trained at Oxford Air Training School getting his frozen ATPL.   


Sam started flying for British Airways in 2000 aged 22. He has now flown the 737,777,787,A319/320/321, A380 and held instructor and examiner positions on all but the 737. He is still with BA and is currently a Captain, Instructor and Examiner on the A380. 


In 2003 Sam got his Display Authorisation. 3 years later he was selected to represent GB in the Yak Aircraft World Aerobatic Championships.

In 2013 he Raced "Miss USA", a Formula One aircraft at the National Air Race Championships at Reno.

Sam gained his instructor rating in 2009 and instructs on our Boeing Stearman. He has flown over 50 different types of aircraft and has over 16,000 hours. The aircraft he has flown have ranged from ones on wheels, skis and floats! 




Sean is a former Special Forces RAF Chinook pilot, he first flew with TG over 10 years ago, who has over 7000 hours of which 5000 is rotary and have been instructing with us since 2017.

A RAF helicopter pilot by training, Sean retired from regular RAF service in the rank of Air Marshal. On leaving the RAF he decided to pursue a portfolio career and was appointed to the Chair of the Board of Spencer Private Hospitals and the Board of the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust as a NED. He has also taken up the post, as a RAF reservist, of the Air Officer for Northern Ireland responsible to the head of the RAF for engagement in Northern Ireland.


Before leaving the RAF, Sean was the RAF's Deputy Commander for Capability & the Air Force Board Member responsible for People, Training, Infrastructure & Equipment Capability.  Prior to this he completed a year’s secondment to Marshall ADG leading its business aviation services operation at Birmingham Airport from a loss making to a profitable business unit.


He is particularly interested in the challenges of leading transformational and organisational change in large, diverse organisations that operate at high tempo. He had first-hand exposure to this during his tenure as the Air Officer Commanding No 2 Group when the RAF's air transport force completely modernized its fleet while delivering globally on operations and redeploying the UK’s Armed Forces from Afghanistan.  Concurrently, he oversaw the transfer of the RAF’s Search and Rescue responsibility to Bristows and the Maritime and Coastguard agency and developed a new operating model for RAF Brize Norton. Before that, while working in Whitehall, he was heavily involved in the Strategic Defence and Security Review and a number of Spending Reviews as the MoD’s Director of Strategy Management.