Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Richard 'Dick' N. Rumbelow

Richard 'Dick' N. Rumbelow joined Hunting Aircraft in April 1957 after serving in the RAF
from 1951. He was with No 208 Sqn in the Middle East from 1953 to 1955, then a flying instructor
for the following two years. He won the Wright Jubilee Trophy for aerobatics in 1956

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Joseph 'Joe' Parker 1909-1945

Joseph Parker was chief test pilot and Director of Flight Operations at Republic Aviation. He was killed when the P-47N Thunderbolt he was flying crashed on take off  from the airfield on the island of Ie Shima in the South Pacific, just days before Japan surrendered. Joe Parker was the first Republic test pilot to do a compressability dive, speed runs, high altitude flying, spins and high altitude ignition pressurization. Ie Shima is located three miles west of Okinawa. Joe Parker was buried very close to the grave of the famed WW II correspondent, Ernie Pyle, who was killed in the battle for Ie Shima.

Thursday, May 07, 2020

Len Houston



Tuesday, April 28, 2020

S/Ldr Arthur Robert Moore DFC* 19xx-1989

 Bob Moore climbing into prototype J-29 before its maiden flight in 1948
Arthur Robert Moore joined the RAFVR about May 1939 as an Airman u/t Pilot. Called up on 1st September 1939, he continued his elementary flying training at 7 EFTS Desford and went on to 10 FTS Ternhill for No. 19 Course, which ran from 11th April to 24th July 1940. 

Moore arrived at 5 OTU Aston Down on 3rd August and after converting to Hurricanes joined 3 Squadron at Wick on 19th August. He flew his first operational sortie on 4th September and his last with 3 Squadron on 19th September.

He was posted to 615 Squadron at Northolt on 10th October. He flew seven sorties with 615 between 17th October and 2nd November. 
Moore was posted to CFS Upavon on 28th December 1940 for an instructors course. He was commissioned in July 1941. 
In early June 1944 Moore was a Flight Commander with 3 Squadron. On the 8th he shot down a Me109 north of Rouen. Between 18th June and 10th August 1944 he destroyed twenty V1 flying bombs and shared another.
He was awarded the DFC (gazetted 21st July 1944). 

Moore was posted to 56 Squadron at Newchurch in late August 1944. The squadron moved to B-60 at Grimbergen, Belgium on 28th September.
He shared in the probable destruction of a Fw190 on 29th September, destroyed a Me210 on 28th November and destroyed two Me109's on 17th December. 

Moore was released from the RAF in 1946 as a Squadron Leader and joined the RAFVR in 1950.


On 1 September 1948, the first of the Saab 29prototypes conducted its maiden flight, which lasted for half an hour. The test pilot for this first flight of the type was S/Ldr 'Bob' Moore.

He brought a 1955 Saab 92B back to England when he returned, later to become the first managing director of Saab GB Ltd. This was reputedly the first-ever Saab car imported to the UK.
He died in 1989.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

William ‘Bill’ Magruder 1923-1977





During his five years with the Air Force, Mr. Magruder, a graduate of the Air Force's Experimental Test Pilot School, supervised the engineering, and evaluated the performance, of such aircraft as the B-57 and B-52 bombers, C-124 transport and the F-86 fighter.

During his years in private industry, Mr. Magruder worked first for the Douglas Aircraft Co., now McDonald Douglas, and then for the Lockheed California Co., where he was intimately involved in that company's SST development program.
Mr. Magruder was also chief advanced design engineer for the development of Lockheed's L-1011 commercial jet transport.

A member of numerous test pilots' and aircraft industry groups and associations, he was the past president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Van H. Shepard 1925-1970




Van Shepard rose from a humble upbringing in the Great Depression to pursue his lifelong passion for aviation. After receiving his Army Air Forces pilot's wings in World War II, he became a test pilot for the US Air Force, launching a career in which he flew virtually every category of aircraft. As an industry test pilot, his accomplishments included piloting the largest supersonic aircraft in America's history, the XB-70 Valkyrie, at three times the speed of sound. Along the way, he survived a typhoon's direct hit in Okinawa, a low altitude ejection from a flaming fighter in Ohio, and an emergency landing on malfunctioning gear in California. He was killed when the aircraft he was flight testing, a "Guppy 101" owned by Aero Spacelines of Santa Barbara crashed  at Edwards Air Force Base.

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Murray ‘Bob’ Hawley 1914-1962




Thomas Walter Gillespie 1924-2017







Tom Gillespie enrolled in college on a football scholarship at Virginia Polytechnic Institute VPI (VA Tech) and to the flight training school offered by the Navy V- 5 at VPI. Due to World War II, he dropped out of college and finished his flight training and flew anti-submarine patrol missions( the plane TBM avenger) in World War II. He returned as a flight instructor when the war ended. He returned to VPI after discharge and then transferred to Saint Louis University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. Two weeks after graduating, he was recalled into the Marine Corps for the Korean War as a fighter pilot flying the F4U corsair fighter jet.

Tom later completed the air force experimental flight test pilot school as a civilian and was ranked in top five out of This flight school was a prerequisite for the space astronaut program, including the original Mercury Seven to include Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper, who he performed better than. He qualified to be one of the first astronauts in space with the Mercury 7 astronauts but a last-minute decision excluded all civilian candidates; thereby excluding Tom from being an original astronaut.

Tom continued his storied aviation career with stints at general motors with the f84 thunderstruck, Beech Craft Lear Jet and Vice President of Piper Aircraft. He finished his career running flight safety academy flight school in Vero Beach, Florida.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

James B. Reichert 1925-1995


James Barnum Reichert was a senior research specialist for Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, he passed away 23rd May 1995. 
Jim worked for the Lockheed Skunk Works from 1977 to 1995 and made major material technology advancements for several aircraft programs, including the F-117A Stealth Fighter.
He was a World War II veteran, helicopter test pilot, aviation and sailing enthusiast, and multiple patent holder/inventor.He was the test pilot for the Doak 16.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Vergil C.Givens 1925-2019




After graduating from Union High School at age 16, he attended West Virginia Tech before entering the United States Military Academy, where he graduated in 1945. Vergil served as a USAF Fighter pilot in the Philippine Islands and Japan from 1945-8 before returning to the US and getting his Masters in Mechanical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. While there he met Janet Louise Eckert who was attending nearby Russell Sage College and they married in 1951. After a brief stint at Wright Patterson AFB, they moved to Edwards AFB in Southern California, where Vergil was an Experimental Flight Test Pilot during the "Right Stuff" era. He was the Project Control Officer and Test Director for the Lockheed F-104, in which he was the second pilot to break Mach 2. He joined Lockheed Aircraft Corporation in Burbank as a civilian test pilot before joining the Lockheed Missile & Space Company in Sunnyvale in 1960. After retiring from Lockheed Vergil continued to work in the aerospace industry.

Capt Robert Langley

Capt. Robert Langley served in the  R.A.F. from 1941-46, and was awarded a D.F.C. in 1944. Was an instructor at Upper Heyford in 1944, and was seconded to B.O.A.C on contract until 1952, when he joined Air Charter, Ltd. Chief pilot for Channel Air Bridge,he also acted as PTP for Aviation Trders Carvair conversions circa 1962-1964. Had over 10,300 hrs on 14 types.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Ejection Seat History - courtesy of Hartley Moyes








Thursday, January 18, 2018

Eddie McNamara DFC QCVS



Eddie McNamara (right) with John Cochrane

Richard A. Henson 1910-2002



Richard A. Henson was born in 1910 in Hagerstown, Md., and was raised in the village of Paramount by Frank and Ora Belle Henson -- both of whom were business owners. Their influence upon their third child stayed with him throughout his lifetime. From Ora Belle, who owned a ladies hat and dress shop, he learned to appreciate fine clothing and the art and value of dressing well. From Frank, who ran a coal and ice business and applied his accounting education to bookkeeping for the dress shop, he learned to put all of his talents to good use and to work hard. From both parents, he learned deep and abiding religious beliefs and to practice these in his daily life.

By the time young Mr. Henson was 17, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in aviation. After completing advanced mechanical training at Mountain Park Institute in North Carolina, he returned to Hagerstown. Although the Kreider-Reisner plant he had planned to work at had ceased production, the factory later began selling some used aircraft at "very reasonable prices."

Although this was during the Depression, Mr. Henson convinced two friends to go in with him on a C-Z Challenger plane for $1,500. For his part, he had to obtain a loan, co-signed by his mother, to raise the $375 he needed. Immediately after the sale, he begain taking pilot lessons. After soloing in 1930, he acquired a commercial license a year later, which allowed him to fly passengers for hire.

The Kreider-Reisner plant was sold, shortly thereafter, to Fairchild Aircraft Corporation, and began manufacturing planes again. Mr. Henson, with his pilot's license and mechanical training, was hired as a test pilot for $40 per week -- a vast sum, during the Great Depression. Meanwhile, he offered occasional charter flights and sight-seeing flights, as well as managing the Hagerstown Airport's grass field, as sideline businesses.

By 1932, he purchased the Blue Ridge Flying Service and renamed it Henson Flying Service, managing hi operations from the airport while continuing test flights for Fairchild. As his flying business increased, Mr. Henson began adding planes to his stable: a used Brunner Winkle Bird biplane in 1934 and an Aeronca C-3 just a short time later. Combined with his lengthy flight hours at Fairchild, Mr. Henson quickly earned the governement's top rating of an Airline Transport Pilot.

In the following years, he established a major Civilian Pilot Training Program in response to the need for pilot training brought on by the war, and continued flight testing for Fairchild, which was also responding to the war.

In 1936, he became a member of "The Caterpillar Club," an exclusive pilot's club reserved for those who are forced to eject from an aircraft. It was a dubious "badge of honor" -- he later rued that he had not tried harder to save the plane. Throughout the following years, however, Henson accumulated great numbers of awards for his accomplishments in aviation, business, and philanthropy, and earned a stellar reputation for running a safety-oriented, well-maintained fleet of aircraft.

By 1955, Mr. Henson had begun selling Beechcraft Aircraft, in addition to piloting, being a fixed base operator, executive aircraft fleet manager and chief of flight test operations for Fairchild. At the time, Mr. Henson also operated a 230-acre cattle farm with more than 100 white-faced Herefords on a farm near Smithsburg, Md.

By 1962, Henson started the Hagerstown Communter airline, providing air service between Hagerstown, Md., and Washington, D.C., some 70 miles south. It was the first time anyone had applied the idea of "commuting" prices for repetitive travel. And even with just very basic amenities and service levels, the Hagerstown Commuter soon outsold competitors providing fancier -- and more expensive -- flights on the same route.

In time, the Hagertown Commuter joined with Allegheny Airlines to create the Allegheny Commuter operation. At this point, service to Salisbury, Md., was added, and in later years, Henson's network of cities served expanded to include Baltimore, Pittsburgh and New York.Through mergers, Allegheny had become the new USAir, and was associated with several smaller, commuter-type airlines which still operated under the "communal" name "Allegheny Commuter." The lack of independent status in operating his airline bothered Mr. Henson, and in 1983, he took his airline business to Piedmont Aviation.
The new alliance allowed Mr. Henson to update his aircraft with de Havilland Canada DHC-7s and DHC-8 turboprops, and expand service throughout the southeast U.S. as "Henson, the Piedmont Regional Airline." On July 1, 1989, USAir bought Piedmont, and by 1993, the Henson logo was phased out. At age 80, Mr. Henson wasn't quite ready to retire, but was ready to "move on." In 1990 had established the Richard A. Henson Foundation, to facilitate his philanthropic endeavors and to create a legacy which would reach beyond his lifetime.

Mr. Henson died at age 92, on June 12, 2002

Gilbert Defer 1935-2017




Gilbert Defer had flown 70 different aircraft totaling 8500 hours of flying time 1450 on Concorde He was a fighter pilot in the French Air Force and became experimental test pilot, French Government. He then became an experimental Test Pilot, Aerospatiale – Senior Test Pilot for Aerospatiale and flight test manager.Gilbert Defer made the first flight of the ATR42 in 1984 followed in 1988 by the first flight of the ATR72

Elie Buge 1923-1967




Elie Buge was born in Corrèze on February 14, 1923, the youngest of eight children in a family of modest means. He began attending the municipal school Saint Augustin at age six, obtaining his primary school certificate at age 12.
Encouraged by this success, he was determined to continue his studies and insisted on being enrolled in the Corrèze secondary course. He was a brilliant student and received his lower secondary certificate (BEPC) in 1939. It was at this secondary school that he met his future wife. They would marry some years later, in 1946, and have two daughters. After his school years, Elie Buge decided to join the French Air Force. In the spring of 1941, he set off for Châteauroux, which was then in the Free Zone, where he stayed for several months before embarking on a series of experiences abroad. He spent time in French-speaking North Africa (Morocco and Algeria) and then in the USA in 1943, where he obtained his fighter pilot’s license.
From there, Elie Buge went to England, where he was assigned to the 145th Wing of the Royal Air Force. At the end of World War II, he transferred from his squadron based in Germany to the second fighter squadron in Dijon.
In 1946, he was sent to Indochina, in a Spitfire. He returned to France in 1947, to Mont de Marsan, where he remained until the end of his military career. He held the post of instructor at the Center for Transformations on Jet Aircraft (CTAR) and was a pilot in the Fighter section. He was one of the first French pilots to fly a jet plane (the Vampire). He took part in experimentation on the Ouragan and the Mystère II and Mystère IV, becoming the first non-commissioned officer to break the sound barrier, on board a Mystère II. He excelled in solo aerobatic demonstrations and was also the leader of a formation flying trio of Mystère IIs.
His reputation as a skilled pilot earned him a job offer from Avions Marcel Dassault, and he joined the company on the March 1, 1956. Assigned to acceptance testing in Mérignac, he drew attention when he went into a spin during a low-speed test.
He joined the Test circuit at Villaroche and Istres. During the winter of 1956-1957, he flew the Super Mystère B2 and executed an additional component of the Mystère IV spin program. In response to Swiss interest in the Mystère IVA 210, he presented an excellent flight demonstration in the Swiss valley of Meiringen.
With his aim of earning test pilot certification, Elie Buge spent a period of time training at the Flight Test Center (CEV) in Bretigny. He first obtained his acceptance pilot’s license and was awarded his test pilot’s license on November 30, 1959 during a second training course.


He was copilot to René Bigand on the prototype of the Mirage III B01 at Melun Villaroche. At Istres he took part in high-altitude flights on the Mirage III, and in the test program on engine shut-off up to the flight envelope limit.
Promoted to prototype test pilot at Avions Marcel Dassault, René Bigand transferred him to Bordeaux, where he acceptance tested the Super Mystère B2, the Etendard IV M, and the Mirage III, registering more than 1,000 flight hours on the latter.
Elie Buge received a number of distinctions during his lifetime, including the Legion of Honor, France’s Military Medal and Aeronautical Medal, and the French military award for combat in foreign operational theatres (Croix de guerre TOE). Elie Buge died in service on November 8, 1967

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

W/Cdr Moreshwar Waman Tilak 1933-

MW Tilak made the maiden flight of the HAL Ajeet

Jack Zanasso

An original photograph of the Promavia Jet Squalas F1300 prototype I-SQAL signed by the test pilot on it's maiden flight, Jack Zanasso. Designed by the Italian Stelio Frati, the Jet Squalas first flew in April 1987. The aircraft was to be built by the Belgian firm Promavia but despite many attempts over several years the project eventually floundered.

Hans Galli









Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Brian 'Dutch' Deas



Chris 'Duff' Guarente

The first guided launch of the AIM-9X from an F-22 Raptor was Feb. 26, 2015, by Maj. Christopher Guarente, 411th FLTS assistant director of operations and F-22 test pilot

Lt Col (Ret) William 'Bill' Gray

Bill Gray (Far right)