Born in 1957, Melvyn Hiscock lived in the UK but provided commentary for the display for almost 20 years. In addition to being a well-versed aviation enthusiast and pilot, he was also a best-selling author and skilled guitarist. The foreword to his book, Make Your Own Electric Guitar, was written by Brian May – guitarist for the British rock band Queen – and sold thousands of copies around the world.
Air Display organiser Deputy Mike Higgins said Mr Hiscock was among the UK volunteers who came over to help with the show each year, and that his passing was like ‘losing a family member’.
‘Melvyn was a member of the Air Display family,’ he said. ‘He was a larger-than-life individual who was friends with us all. As a commentator, you could not find a funnier and more knowledgeable person. He just gelled in with everybody. We all admired his capabilities in terms of being a commentator but we all enjoyed him for the person that he was.
‘I honestly cannot think of anybody who could fill his shoes in the same way. That’s how good he was.’
His friend and fellow commentator, BBC Radio Jersey presenter Chris Stone, said Mr Hiscock had ‘lots of friends’ in Jersey and chose to get married in the Island in 2017.
‘We immediately hit it off because we both have a mischievous sense of humour and, although he took his job very seriously, he brought to it an immense sense of humour and a real accessibility.’
Mr Stone added that Mr Hiscock’s knowledge and ability to improvise made life as a co-commentator ‘very easy’, and that he never failed to keep everyone entertained.
‘Ever since he started, I would buy everybody on the commentary platform a bag of jelly babies and someone would turn up with an ice cream every now and then,’ he said. ‘Sometimes – and we would do this to each other – I would say “over to you Melvyn”, and he would start talking while I stuffed my face with jelly babies and had a big slurp of ice cream. He would be aware that my mouth was completely full, look at me with a mischievous look in his eye and say: “What do you think about that then, Chris?”’
Mr Stone also said that Mr Hiscock was viewed with ‘a lot of respect’ by the aviation industry – not just by those on the ground but also by many of the pilots who flew in the displays.
‘He knew a lot of the display pilots by first name and, whenever they turned up to the Aero Club, they would always say “Where’s Melvyn?” He was well-known and respected for what he did. If you were at a display commentated by Melvyn then you were in safe hands and you would be entertained.
‘He could talk about what the pilots had told him about the aircraft, what it was like to sit in and to fly and he was full of anecdotes and quips to make things interesting. He always held people’s interest in that regard.’
With last year’s show cancelled due to the pandemic, 2019 was the last time Mr Hiscock commentated for the Island’s display – despite being badly ill at the time.
‘As soon as the microphone was switched on he was in character straight away,’ said Mr Stone. ‘He always described himself as a gob on a stick, and my thought on that was that he had some gob and that he gave it some stick.’