Flight Lieutenant Esmond Farfan, Lancaster bomber pilot who survived a disastrous raid on Nuremberg and provided vital D-Day support – obituary
Too young to follow his brother into the RAF, he spent two years at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad before enrolling as a student pilot in June 1941. He joined the sixth and penultimate course of Trinidad Air Training Scheme run by the Trinidad and Tobago Flying Club, where he completed 50 hours of basic pilot training.
After completing the course, he sailed for England and joined the RAF in September 1941. He continued his training before heading to Canada, where he graduated as a pilot sergeant on December 4, 1942.
Back in England, he trained as a bomber pilot and joined 12 Squadron in March 1944. Before the fateful operation in Nuremberg, he bombed Stuttgart, Frankfurt and the Krupps factory in Essen.
After completing his tour with No. 12 Squadron, he became a Lancaster instructor pilot. After six months he was transferred to Mosquito, before joining 627 Squadron at Woodhall Spa near Lincoln. When discharged from the RAF in September 1946, he returned to Trinidad, where he immediately joined British West Indian Airways (BWIA), the third Trinidadian to do so, his older brother being the first.
Initially flying converted bombers, the airline acquired the Vickers Viking in 1948. During a passenger flight from Jamaica to Miami, one of Dunne’s jetliner’s two engines fell off the wing. He managed to make an emergency landing at a small airfield in Florida.
The Farfan brothers made history in 1955 when they piloted the airline’s first Vickers Viscount on a flight to London. ‘Captain EK’, as he was known, was the first to fly Boeing 707s with BWIA in 1963 and later became one of the company’s top training captains. He was appointed Boeing 707 Fleet Manager in 1968 and retired in 1978 after 33 years of service.
In addition to his work as a pilot, Farfan was one of Trinidad’s business leaders. He became the managing director of the family business FT Farfan and Sons, a wholesaler of machinery and equipment. He helped his brother, who had founded Sun Island Aviation in Port of Spain, and provided aviation advice to foreign embassies and companies. For his services to business, the Trinidadian government awarded him the Gold Medal of Merit in Public Service in 2010.
In 2005, he made an emotional visit to France to stand by the graves of his three West Indian colleagues who died while serving with him in 12 Squadron. A man of compassion, he also visited the small French towns targeted and was deeply moved to learn of the extent of the losses among the civilian population.
Esmond Farfan married his French wife Hélène in 1949 and they were married for 53 years. They had a son.
Esmond Farfan, born October 11, 1922, died March 10, 2022