S.J. René de Monchy

It is with great sadness that we announce the death on 31 August 2011 of S.J.René de Monchy (NED).

Many have made enormous contributions to the development of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), but few have done so whilst retaining the trust, respect, admiration, and affection of all those they served. Rene De Monchy, who died peacefully in Rotterdam last Wednesday, after a long illness bravely borne, was such a person.

Born in the Netherlands in 1927, he set off just after the war as a young man of 19 to visit the United States, and it was there that he took his first flying lessons, discovering his life-long passion for aviation. Once back in Holland, he obtained his private pilot’s licence, and it was not long before his organizational and administrative skills were recognized. At the tender age of 26, in the early 1950s, he had already become Chairman of the Aero Club of Rotterdam and The Hague, and it was not long before he became heavily involved at national level in running the Dutch national aero club (KNVvL)

His service to the air sports community took on an international dimension in 1983, when he first represented the Netherlands as Delegate to the FAI General Conference in Los Angeles. From then on, and until the FAI Centenary Conference in Paris in 2005, René de Monchy and his wife Betty were familiar and highly popular figures at FAI General Conferences in many locations around the world. His blend of avuncular bonhomie, competence, reliability, cheerfulness and excellent mastery of English made him a perfect choice for positions of influence in an international organization such as FAI, and his strong sense of duty and commitment meant that he never refused an appeal for help.

Having been a long-serving senior member of the Finance Committee, Rene de Monchy was an obvious choice to take over as Treasurer General of the FAI, and it was in this post, one of the triumvirate which guided the destiny of the Federation before the creation of the Executive Board in 2000, that he was to make his most distinguished contribution. His steady hand and wise decision-making meant that the FAI’s finances remained strong throughout a period of rapid change. His was the best sort of conservatism, in the interests of all members – keeping a clear head in times of turbulence, and avoiding any risky, speculative ventures. His explanations of the annual accounts were always models of clarity, inspiring great confidence amongst the FAI Members

Even after he had handed over official responsibility for the FAI’s finances, René de Monchy continued to keep a beady eye on the balance sheet, helping the Board to improve constantly with his pertinent questions and observations. He made other major contributions as a member of the group charged with re-structuring the FAI for the 21st century, and as Trustee of the Prince Alvaro de Orleans Borbon Fund for the scientific development of air sport. His long devotion to the FAI was recognised on his retirement with the award of the title “Companion of Honour”.

The FAI has lost a highly-respected and much-loved friend and supporter, and we extend our deep and sincere condolences to Mrs Betty de Monchy and all their family.