My father Michael John Baker passed away on the 13th of March 2017 very suddenly and out of the blue aged just 67. He fell ill on the Sunday morning of the 12th and was rushed to hospital. He was transferred to the John Radcliffe Hospital, and in their specialist heart clinic he underwent 12 hours of overnight emergency surgery carried out by an incredible surgeon and their team.
He made it through the night but sadly never recovered from the traumatic surgery and he passed away surrounded by his family and loved ones just two hours after surgery finished.
The condition was the most serious the doctors had seen in many years and the chances of even arriving at hospital alive or not suffering from a stroke were slim. He made it to hospital and was able to speak to us before going in. I managed to get to the hospital just before the ambulance arrived and helped to push his stretcher. He was still Dad and able to tell everyone he loved them, and we loved, supported and reassured him as best we could. We all walked with him to the operating theatre to support him every step we could, reinforcing the will to live for him to focus on through the surgery.
The Friday before he fell ill, he was returning from a holiday to Gibraltar. He didn't like flying (even though he loved aeroplanes), and when he booked the holiday with his partner Heidi we were all surprised. I managed to swap onto his flight and kept it a secret. When I arrived at Gibraltar, he was on the balcony of the airport with his binoculars looking into the cockpit of our aircraft. He recognised me and ran inside to tell Heidi, "guess who is flying the plane" tearful with pride. I opened the window and waved as we took photos of each other. On the flight back which I had the privilege of flying, he was choked up with pride and he was so happy.
On the ground back at Luton he came into the cockpit to see my office and we took photos as he was brimming with happiness. Above is that photo which will remain one of the most precious photos I will ever possess.
We never knew he was ill, and I only had the pleasure of flying him once. To see him so happy just hours before he passed makes it so hard to digest the fact that he has gone. I can however say I had the honour of bringing him home.
Dad was such an intelligent guy, he had such wide ranging interested such as, cabinet making, instrument making, nature, art, gardening, calligraphy, astronomy and engineering to name just a few. He taught me so much and fuelled my interest in so many subjects. He gave his time and effort to so many and wanted nothing in return. Always the first to volunteer and never needed to be asked twice. He made me the person I am today and helped me with every goal I dreamed of and was always there to help me.
We were not simply father and son, we were also best of friends and loved each other's company. People referred to is as inseparable. I was very lucky to spend a large part of our lives working together before I became a pilot.
The last few years when Dad met his partner Heidi I saw such soppy and romantic side to Dad. He found true happiness. We can at least be thankful that he enjoyed life right to the end and didn't suffer for long.
The charity we are supporting is called Aerobility. They bring the dream of flight to disabled people that could otherwise only dream of flying. To me flying is the most incredible thing on earth and being able to bring that dream and pleasure to so many who thought they may never be able to, is rather a special thing. Do read about them on their website as they are an amazing charity, inspiring energy and independence in differently abled people. Dad loved aeroplanes, and I know he would love to share the dream of flight with so many worthy people.