I am Simon Murphy, the namesake and proprietor of the Flying Circus. You are probably wondering how such a good-looking lad finds himself in this predicament - the resident clown in what can only be described as a Circus. It's a long, long story!
After school I went to work in the City of London, whilst trying to make the grade as a racing driver. It didn't take long to decide to devote my life to trying to enjoy myself whilst somehow scraping a living together.
In Karting I won enough races and championships to be offered a drive in a team racing single seater cars, but there was never a good enough budget to bring success, and I lacked the exceptional ability required to make up for shortcomings in the equipment. I was subsequently offered a dream drive in one of the UK's best karting teams for 1976, it was too late - other things had attracted my attention.....
Totally engrossed in the exciting new sport of hang gliding (well, who wouldn't want to be drifting around above the clouds?) I was selling flying kit within months of getting involved.
Everything else went out of the window as sales blossomed, and eventually my various other business interests were dropped in favour of trying to earn a meagre income from Free Flight. Financially this was a very foolish move, but it is one I don't regret - particularly now that the mortgage is paid off!
Nowadays I fly both hang gliders and paragliders, and do so purely for enjoyment. I'm probably more at home with some rigid tubes inside my sails. I actually flew for Great Britain on a couple of occasions, but more as a result of being in the right places at the right times than as a result of having any special skills. However, since I have held the local XC record continuously for almost 26 years, I guess I can still hold my head high! My ideal is to be drifting off XC, but the reality is that I just love to have a pleasant flight, whatever the glider may be.
The fact that I just happen to make my living at the same time is a bonus, and ties in with my philosophy that life is for living, and we need to do it NOW!
One reason I wanted to concentrate on the flying business was so that I could work entirely from home. Turfhouse nestles in the remote valley of the River Love in East Devon. It promotes a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere that has become ingrained in my business attitudes.
There is far more to life than trying to take all your money in exchange for my goods and services, so my sales methods are laid-back. Having striven for growth and expansion in the past, that all changed a few years ago. Growth is not sustainable, so the Flying Circus is all about customer service, and excellence. Ignore turnover, and concentrate on enjoying life, and everything becomes better, and less stressful, for all involved.
I'm so old-fashioned that my relationship with my customers is paramount - I don't have shareholders or bankers to pander to and, even if I did, they would always be a secondary consideration.
The Flying Circus is, literally, a cottage industry.
Here are a few flattering comments that have been made by some of our customers over the years. Is this proof that you can fool some of the people, some of the time?!
Peter Holdy: "Love your positive attitude, if everyone will be like you flying will be like a dream ;-) "
Niall MacCarthy: "Thank you very much. You have to be one of the most honest and helpful people I have ever dealt with."
Wing Cdr. Matt Tandy (Treasurer, RAF HPA): "You're the nice guy of paragliding, Simon"
John Rudge (again!) : "Thank you once again for your brilliant service and 5-star communication. It is really appreciated. You've got a customer for life with me now."
John Rudge: "I will let you know if there's anything else I need, and will also be recommending you to my flying friends as I do think your service is brilliant."
Nick Jenkins: "Thank you very much for the new Charly Loop helmet, I found it to be lovely and comfortable at Beer on Sunday, I am very pleased with it, no more headaches now ! ! !"
Al Westle: "Excellent service yet again, thank you. Super fast and I love the Christmas pressie, too".
Stan Biddlecombe: " Received the new helmet and radio on Thursday, man that was quick. Thank you very much."
Sandor Hunt: "I am so glad find your website on the internet, you well informed what I wish to by from you, and very very helpful. Thank you for you, I received my pod harness and I'm so happy, I wish more people know about you. Thank you and speak you soon!"
Paul Graves: "You are just a legend"
Keith Matthews in Skywings magazine: Who do you most admire in the sport? "Simon Murphy for his fair and honest trading as long as I can remember. He gives free, unbiased advice on equipment whether it leads to a sale or not"
Keith Williamson: "I ordered this on Friday mid-morning - it arrived on Saturday morning!! Other than you driving it up personally, I don't know how you did it. Great helmet, stunning service, many thanks (again).
Mike Nevitt: "I read your customer testimonials yesterday, and you are either writing them yourself, paying your customers to do so, or you are the best business in the world"
Tim Dotchin: "Thanks for being amazing."
James Roy: "Hi Simon, Headset arrived today, just wanted to say: Great product, looks and feels bulletproof. Great price, same price as the inferior ones I had previously (which broke). Great Service, next day delivery. Keep up the good work!"
Tim Clarke: "Simon, you’ve been a great help towards getting me back into flying. Confidence in my equipment will play a big part when it comes down to it. I’m looking forward to posting you some progress reports!"
Erik Orisko:- "Also thank you for that order, post from Devon comes here by speed of lightning. Only words I can say is: perfect service all the way. Many many thanks Simon."
Steve Uzochukwu: "May 2011 will mark 22 years as a Simon Murphy customer and still 100% satisfaction. You need to be on a six figure consultancy fee to the twits running phone companies, ISPs and banks."
Darren Shepherd: "Your friendly approach and nice long chats make your service one of the best I have received from anyone in any industry or hobby I have been involved in. I wish you continued success, you are a true gentlemen and once again many thanks."
Miles Hockliffe: "Many many thanks for all your support, & such inspired directions, despite never having seen the glider. Certainly a lot of the improvement is down to your stunning support & knowledge".
Colin de Gasperi: "Yesterday I flew with the speed arms that you so graciously gave me when I purchased the Malibu. Originally, I thought the idea of them was just another gimmick and they had stayed in my bag. However having used them with just a tee shirt under, I have to say that they are amazingly warm, even at cloud base, and so much more comfortable than a flying suit inside and outside the harness. Ideal for this time of year and if it gives me any less drag, so much the better. Thanks again"
Keith Worsdell (ex-Chairman of the mighty Dunstable Club):
"Just to let you know I have received the camera mount, really pleased with it.
talk about quick delivery almost the next day . I've said it before and I will say it again this is a service second to none and long may you continue and prosper ."
Patrick Joyce (USA)
"I wanted to say thanks, the Gliderider is truly awesome. Not only did it survive the 5500km journey from Nevada to Alaska, it proved itself as a dependable workhorse. Thanks!"
"By far the best customer service I've come across in my search for a helmet. Thanks again".
"Thankyou again Simon, it is really refreshing to have someone u can rely on, so rare these days! But I bet u get that a lot - if you dont you should!!!"
"You are probably the most reasonable person I have ever met".
"Couldn't beleeeeve your amazingly quick delivery! If only the rest of life could be so simple!"
"You are one of the very few people in the flying industry I really miss!"
"AHH thankyou simon. Man i love making bisness with you your so nice and understanding i just really appreciate u letting me know each thing you do if i ever need to buy a helmet agin i know were im going man thanks alot u have helped me alot with this"
Stu Belbas (Verbier Summits):
"Simon is the funniest man I have ever met."
Rob Dowdell Chairman (and ex Secretary) of the RNHPC (for the last 15 years!)
"Firebird UK has supplied the Royal Navy HG & PG Club with a whole range of equipment over the 20 years of the Club's existence - varios, radios, tow releases, parachutes, harnesses and recently our 3 Litespeed-S and 2 Sonic hang gliders. They have also been our annual hang glider servicing agent for the last 2 years - we moved to FBUK after the demise of the Joint Services maintenance facility at Crickhowell. Simon and Martyn have provided us with a top notch facility since and as a result I am certain that our Club members are using equipment that is in perfect condition. There is no doubt that Firebird are streets ahead of the other suppliers that we have dealt with in the past in terms of quality of service - well done guys we intend using you for the next 20 years at least! Fly Navy."