Norman Conquest, One Man’s Tale of High-Flying Adventures and a Life in the Fast Lane

by Vic Norman


How many can truly, and truthfully, assert that they’ve never had a job nor ever had anyone telling them what to do?

On the pages of this book you’ll meet a man who claims just that and to which he, Victor Samuel Eric Norman by name, could have added that he’s never been idle or bored even as he’s led a most interesting life by simply following his fascination with “most anything with a motor.” 

Prescient, that his self-made dad owned an interesting mix of motorized conveyances exposing Vic from the get-go to any number of fine motorcars, airplanes, speedboats. and motorbikes. At age nine, Vic was permitted to start and warm-up a cantankerous Ferrari as well as take the controls of various airplanes when flying somewhere with his dad. The family, including Vic’s nanny, holidayed each summer in the south of France. Indulged, but not spoiled, by the time he turned teen, Vic was racing his Siata-engined Starfire go-kart. At sixteen his racing successes landed him on the cover of the November 1962 issue of Karting magazine. Turning 17, he earned both his flying and driver’s licenses and the gift of “a brand-new, bright-red Triumph TR4.” That was also the year he met a young model named Anne with whom he was “totally besotted. She was beautiful, amazingly kind, and very well-mannered.” Today Vic and Anne have been together for approaching 60 years with the family now including Vic and Anne’s three plus their respective spouses, and eight grandchildren. Best, as Vic writes, “we all enjoy each other’s company and spend most of our family holidays together as a large group of around sixteen.”

So, if he’s never worked at a job, how did Vic support and raise that family? Answer: by his wits and following his passion, that fascination with “anything with a motor.” Motor racing came first, crewing for the likes of now-life-long friend, the late Alain de Cadenet, then running his own succession of cars in all types of competitions. At one point he even became a Ferrari dealer and distributor, not just selling cars but race-prepping a number of them for Le Mans. Vic named his Gloucestershire, UK-located business Rosso Ferrari Ltd.

Fire suits can be deucedly hot. Vic Norman is on left page trying to keep cool while his D-Type is being worked on in the pits at the 1978 Le Mans. Top right you can spot the D-Type behind Vic’s Maserati 300S which was being run for him by his friend Clive Richardson who drove it to a class win. Lower right is the XK 120 Vic purchased from Stirling Moss as attested to in the vintage newspaper clip.

Vic Norman’s successes really soar starting not quite at the book’s halfway point with the chapter “Taking to the Air” when now 31-year-old pilot-since-17 had his first ride in an open-cockpit biplane. It was revelatory. Flying had never been so much fun. Next, an experience riding with an aerobatic pro set Vic Norman off not just to learn but purchase his own aero-proficient Zlin from the factory in West Czechoslovakia in which to hone his own skills sufficiently as he had a goal in mind; he wanted to become an airshow performer. 

Adding wing walkers to the aerobatics wasn’t far in the future. Left page shows stills of an act in which the pilot flew past, snagging the skirts off the gals. Facing page, Crunchies, a Cadbury candy bar, sponsored for most of the 90s decade the company that Vic had formed. As you can see the sponsor’s name boldly shows on the airplanes’ flanks and wings.

It didn’t happen overnight as Vic entertainingly relates on his book’s pages with words well-illustrated. The aero-team business Vic established he called AeroSuperBatics, Ltd. Additional pilots were added to the staff as more aircraft were acquired. Then, in 1987, wing walkers were added as the page pair immediately below shows for AeroSuperBatics was destined to become, not merely the UK’s—but the only anywhere—precision formation flying wing walking act. That evolution and growth is told—and shown—including the experiences following invitations to perform in China, the United Arab Emirates, far away Australia and other places.

During the 2010s Breitling came on board as sponsor for the team now flying Pitts Specials as seen in the above photo purposely set up and shot for use in promotional materials using AeroSuperBatics’ Short Skyvan as the “camera-car.”

The thirteenth chapter tells of the various airfields AeroSuperBatics, Ltd operated from. One, named Rendcomb Aerodrome with its historic buildings and all, had originally been a World War II RAF base. As Vic Norman developed it, he included an area where events could be hosted he named the Pancho Barn, a name appreciated by the aviation-history knowledgeable. The fourteenth is all about motorcycles and the adventures they afforded with the book’s concluding chapter titled “Into the Future” containing this next page pair showing, on left, Vic and Anne. The facing page reproduces the invitation from newly-designated Honorary Air Commodore (akin to being knighted as the honor was bestowed by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II) to the 614 Squadron of the RAF Vic Norman and Anne to a special Aerial Pageant and Luncheon.  

Well before the pandemic manifested, Vic had thought of putting down details of his incredible life for his family and heirs so had commenced writing—but only sporadically. With personal isolation putting pause to air shows, gatherings and the like, Vic utilized the time turning his full attention to writing. The words, he says, “just started to flow.” With an abundance of fine images from all phases of his life available it soon became a well-illustrated manuscript of 80,000+ words with the UK’s Porter Press expressing interest in publishing. The result is this handsome book and though it is not indexed, Vic did organize several Appendices enumerating various AeroSuperBatics achievements such as world records, recognition of each and every staff member over the decades by name and in chronological order, plus a comprehensive list of its various aircraft. All in all, the book is a quick moving read to be enjoyed just as Vic has, and continues to, enjoy his life.

Norman Conquest, One Man’s Tale of High-Flying Adventures and a Life in the Fast Lane
by Vic Norman
Porter Press, 2021    [In US: SCB Distributors]
72 pages, 95 b/w & 312 color images, hardcover
List Price: $56 / £45
ISBN 13: 978 1 913089 24 5

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