About Me


Hi, my name is Gary Bruce. I am 49 years old and employed as a pilot by Virgin Atlantic Airways. This blog exists to chart my progress through one of life’s experiences, swimming the English Channel.

Physical fitness, training and accepting challenge has always and will continue to be a fundamental part of me.

Born in Exeter, my childhood was spent in a sporting-coaching family. We lived, at times, on or near to the south coast of England where I watched my father coaching athletics, basketball and rugby amongst many other sports. I took my first steps in the School gym and my first sprint on the Leisure Centre sports hall floor. All I wanted to do was to join in the fun! This ambition continues as I watch and participate with my own children today.

Throughout my school career I took part and represented schools, districts and regions in many sports, in particular Rugby and Basketball.

I joined the British Army and went to The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Here the highly professional team began to perfect and develop skills deep within me.

Upon graduation with an even greater hunger for physically challenging and adventurous goals, I joined 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. I successfully completed one of the most difficult physical selections of my life to date… The Parachute selection course to win a coveted ‘Red Beret’.

For the last five years of my military service I completed the Army Pilots flying course and flew helicopters.

In 1995 I left the services and began my civil airline licencing process. I became fully qualified and gained employment as an airline pilot in 1996. I have been flying ever since and now work for Virgin Atlantic Airways employed as a Captain on the Boeing 747-400, the iconic ‘Jumbo’.

First Flight copyDuring these 17 years in the air, I continued to train, and as I moved away from team sports, my interests developed in running, cycling and swimming. Three things I was able to do no matter where I found myself.

I had realised at the age of 18 years old that there was something to be conquered on my doorstep. Something that less people have succeeded at than have summited Mt. Everest!! The English Channel. This was of great interest to me and cried out. As a busy young man the time was not right.

At the ripe old age of 45 years old, I began to hear the calls again. I had by this time joined a swimming club in San Francisco, California and became ‘immersed’ once again. I was lucky enough to accompany my dear friend, Edison Peinado, upon his personal journey to cross the Channel in 2010. Cross he did and I was honoured to be his pacer, swimming approximately 4 and half hours during his crossing.


I set my heart on this challenge and returned within two weeks to book my place with a knowing ‘Pilot’, Reg Brickell, who had predicted privately that I would be back.

My choice of charity is ‘Free the Children’. I want to try and make a difference for young children who may not otherwise receive a chance in life. It is always the children who suffer.

Life is full of mystical events and turns in fate. I now have a confirmed ‘Window of Opportunity’ booked for September 2013. My Everest approaches.