Brain cancer takes life of admirable Cathay captain Martin Chipp

Martin after his last flight for Cathay at age 65.

Captain Martin Chipp has died of brain cancer, his son Nick said. An admirable, likeable, good-looking, wealthy man, Martin had everything until struck down by the disease. One day last year at Jade Villas Martin fell in the shower and could not get up.  It took ambulancemen to lift him out of the shower. Nobody realised at the time it was the first sign of the brain tumour.

Nick said Martin passed away last week in Singapore. His wife Chelvi said by email that “he died in my arms at home”.
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Martin with his grandson.

Last year Martin was diagnosed by Penang doctors as suffering from the disease as horrible as its name, glioblastoma multiforme grade 4. He was operated on in Penang. Chelvi said they went to the UK for cannabis treatment and for radio and chemotherapy. Recently they returned to their house in Singapore, because Martin wished to do so “for palliative care and to pass away at home”.

Martin flew cargo planes for Cathay Pacific until retirement age. A high earner, he squirreled his money away in property, accumulating about 20, he told friends.  He was devoted to Chelvi, keeping himself fit to please her by hiking over the ridges of Ma On Shan almost every day when in Sai Kung. He had two sons from a previous relationship. One carries on in Dad’s shadow flying for CX.

Martin died at 69, we believe. Even in his late sixties he was a good-looking man, 6ft tall, dark hair and moustache, grey grizzled beard. He looked like an airline captain. He would sit in Poets with an I-pad reading, until you walked in. Then he turned it off and switched on the charm, chatting amiably. Martin did not drink much because Chelvi didn’t like it.
The last time we saw him was in Poets early this year. He sat at the bar with Chelvi, occasionally he couldn’t stop the tears. By then he knew the seriousness of glioblastoma. Friends tried to comfort him.
RIP, Martin. It was an honour and pleasure to be your friend.

— Roger Medcalf

In the RAF he flew many types of aircraft. Jet provost, Strikemaster, which he flew in Oman during the war there in the 70s. Lightnings, Jaguars and finally the Tornado. He was an instructor pilot on the Tornado and at the end of his RAF career was seconded to British Aerospace and went to Saudi Arabia to teach the Royal Saudi Air Force to fly them.
In 1987 he joined Gulf Air. His dream had always been to work for Cathay but he was too old when retired from the RAF. Martin spent two years flying the L1011 with Gulf Air living in Bahrain. When Cathay increased their joining age, dad applied and got in. He moved to Hong Kong in 1989 and started flying the 747-200 and 300. He became a Captain after about 6 years and did a short stint flying the 777 before moving to the 747-400 for the remainder of his career.
Unfortunately SARS hit at the same time dad turned 55 so was forced to retire from the airline he loved. He went to fly out of Stanstead for GSS for six months before moving to Singapore Airlines so he could return to south east Asia. He joined Oasis in about 2006 and became a senior training captain with them. Dad loved this job but it was unfortunately not to be and Oasis went under. He rejoined CX on the 747 in 2008.
He has two sons, me, Nicholas Chipp and my older brother Simon Chipp, one grandson Alexander Martin Chipp.

Martin John Chipp  born 28th June 1948 Mexborough South Yorkshire
Parents: Jack (John) and Dorothy Chipp
Father : train driver
Mother : owned a grocery shop
Sister : Pam, three years younger
Aged 11 years old, Martin passed the 11+ exam and attended Mexborough Grammar School. It wasn’t an enjoyable part of his life and he often rebelled against the system, although he had many friends and enjoyed the social side of school. In the 6th Form he and a friend were discovered drinking in a pub at lunch-time. Unfortunately it was a school day. They were suspended for a short time. On his return to school, as part of the ‘punishment’ Martin and friend had to eat lunch with the Junior children, in fact he was quite happy with this arrangement (which backfired on the Headteacher) as Martin was very popular with the girls and the boys in fact looked up to this rebel. I know this because I was one of those Juniors.
Martin loved driving. He passed his driving test on his 17th birthday (his parents had taught him to drive on old airfields and disused roads.) A year later he passed his Advanced Driving Test. Martin took flying lessons and obtained his PPL at the age of 17.
After A levels, Martin briefly went to Teacher Training College, but decided it wasn’t for him and joined the RAF, rising to become Squadron Leader.
That’s about it, but I do have one memory which I think would be very appropriate for Martin’s obituary.
After our Dad died, in 1983 and following on from the funeral, Martin returned to work (he flew Tornado jets in those days.) I was still in Mexborough with Mum and we had a call to ask us to go outside, which we did. It was unbelievable. To honour our Dad, Martin actually performed a fly-past. I have no idea whether he had permission or not, but what an amazing gesture that was. My parents were so, so proud of him as of course I am. He wasn’t handed anything on a plate, he attended state schools and yet he achieved so much. An amazing man.


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  1. I remember the family very well, I remember you Pamela, pretty girl, and of course Martin, who as you have said, was very handsome young man and always going ‘places’ as a young man. I remember your Mum and your Dad, he used to serve in the shop and was nice guy, Mum was very affable. So sorry to hear he bad news he seems to have given a lot and not been given enough time to retire with his family. RIP Martin Chip. Much love Pamela x