On two previous occasions, Captain Mike Simkins had informed the aviation authorities of lethal safety deficiencies that, if not fully addressed, would ultimately result in tragic consequences. On both occasions, his concerns were ignored. On both occasions, two separate, fatal, air crashes ensued.

Pulling Wings From Butterflies is the true story of his refusal to allow a third when he stood, alone, against the might of a multibillion-dollar airline and aviation establishment when he refused to compromise his passengers and crews safety in the pursuit of corporate greed.

TERCIO DE VARAS Is the first book in the trilogy that begins with the journey from rock drummer, appearing with some of the biggest names in the music industry, to becoming a commander on one of the world’s most advanced passenger aircraft.

It concludes when the veil is pulled back to expose the dark underbelly of the aviation industry, that directly challenges the establishment mantra that ‘safety is our number one priority’.


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Tercio De Varas follows a journey from rock drummer, appearing with some of the biggest names in the music industry, to becoming a commander on one of the world’s most advanced passenger aircraft.. It concludes when the veil is pulled back to expose the dark underbelly of the aviation industry, directly challenging the establishment mantra that, “Safety Is Our Number One Priority”.

Tercio De Banderillas. When the union (BALPA) and the CAA refused to investigate claims of criminal activity, what’re a pilots options? Does he take on, single handily the legal might of a multibillion-dollar airlines legal team?  News spreads that a pilot has been threatened with dismissal for refusing to fly when fatigued. Pilots are now too afraid to refuse a duty, resulting in several appalling incidents including two out of the three pilots asleep at 4000 ft on final approach into Manchester.

Delayed until result of police investigation

Tercio De Muerte Crews admit that they are knowingly flying duties in the full expectation they will suffer fatigue. The CAA is provided with irrefutable proof that duty times are knowingly falsified to make it appear they conformed with strictly laid down maximum times and that pilots are flying at the equivalent effectiveness of a drunk driver. Their response? ‘Get over it.’ BALPA the union suppress a report where the depths of the criminal activities are finally exposed. 

Delayed until result of police investigation


The forthcoming book ‘Pulling Wings From Butterflies’ is the true story of a Senior Airline Training Captain’s fight against the entire U.K. aviation establishment when he refused to compromise passenger safety in the pursuit of corporate greed.   

The refusal to succumb to intimidation, bullying and threats of dismissal resulted in Capt. Mike Simkins, with zero legal training, standing alone facing the might of a Multibillion-Dollar Airline and its team of legal experts and advisors in a legal case that has defined the aviation industry. Based on personal experiences as a long haul airline captain, ‘Pulling Wings From Butterflies’ pulls back the veil to directly challenge the airline industry’s claim that, ‘Safety is the Number One Priority’, and charts a unique journey from rock drummer to airline commander, to his return to performing with one of rock music’s iconic singers on a major EU tour.


judge slater’s comments 

‘The limits on flight time and not flying when fatigued are clearly matters related to safety which, if breached, are potentially harmful to the health and safety of passengers and crew.’

‘Rules about maximum FDP and not flying whilst fatigued are made with the safety of crew and passengers in mind. If they are not complied with, there is an obvious increased risk to those flying.’

pilots asleep in the cockpit 

43% of pilots in a BALPA study admitted unintentionally falling asleep in the cockpit.  For those that had 31% admitted to waking up to find the other pilot asleep.

The CAA however claim pilots only fall asleep in the cockpit once in every 100,000,000 hours. 

Exposing the truth

exposing the reality of today’s aviation industry

The reality 

Two of the three pilots in the cockpit, (including the captain)  of an Airbus 330 were still asleep at 4000ft on final approach into Manchester. In another incident all three pilots were asleep over the Atlantic with 365 passengers on board. 

What happened when one pilot just said no?

the pilots

A Senior airline manager admits that 80-90% of pilots will agree to fly criminally planned duties in breach of legislation. Those that refuse to operate illegally and place passengers and crew at an ‘obvious increased risk’ are seen as ‘difficult.’

So why would 90% of professional pilots agree to fly when fatigued and knowingly commit a criminal act?

the union

The pilot union BALPA claim

Fatigue has for many years been a worrying issue for pilots and it continues to be a huge concern across the industry today. Pilots have told BALPA they believe fatigue is now the biggest single threat to flight safety.’

Why did BALPA refuse to support a captain when he refused to agree to fly when at a fatigue level equivalent to the effectiveness of a drunk driver?


Against all medical advice and due to intense lobbying from Air France EASA increased the hours that a pilot can be rostered to fly.

The CAA is funded by those it is tasked with regulating. In its entire history not one airline has ever been prosecuted for breach of  legislation designed to protect passengers and crew safety.

Is this evidence of ‘Regulatory capture’ otherwise known as corruption?

world wide abuse by airlines

A First Officer for Delta Airlines raised  serious safety issues with regards to fatigue and flight time limitation abuse directly to her management. She was warned by her union that her actions would risk reprisals if she did. Subsequently Delta paid a psychiatrist, now under investigation, over $70,000 who diagnosed, without any supporting evidence, the First Officer was Bipolar. The First Officer was grounded.

balpa failures 

The pilots union claim that BALPA is there to ‘represent the interests of all UK pilots’. Pulling Wings from Butterflies examines the politics behind the reason the union failed to support a pilot’s legal case against a major UK airline for flagrant abuse of legislation designed to protect the safety of passengers and crew. The book also asks why subsequently the union withheld legal advice for action against the CAA for its failures on behalf of its members.

fourteen feet from disaster  

The book examines the effects of being awake for 19 hours and how this directly resulted in an Air Canada Airbus being 14 ft away from causing the biggest aviation tragedy in history in 2017 at San Francisco International. 

caa response

The CAA, the UK Regulator, refuses to answer questions posed by senior pilots despite they are concerning serious flight safety issues. Instead they state they do not answer questions of only ‘academic interest.’ Pulling Wings from Butterflies exposes the involvement by the UK regulator in concealing criminal abuse by airline management that places passengers and crew at an obvious risk.

Common Aeronautical language c’est la vie 

Pulling Wings from Butterflies also highlights how the author predicted, a year before it happened, the fatal air crash at Charles de Gaulle due to the insistence of the French controllers to give  instructions to French registered Aircraft in French. The practice continues.

THe criterion line

The criterion line is the point where an individual is operating at the same fatigue level as if they are working during the day having had zero sleep the previous night. The driver responsible for causing the Selby Rail  disaster was jailed for 5 years for driving at that level of fatigue. The airline authorities claim that a pilot required to operate at that level of fatigue is a ‘reasonable management  instruction.’


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