Friday, February 24, 2006

Roland 'Roly' John Falk OBE AFC* 1915-1985

Before WWII, Roly Falk was a test and charter pilot. He flew for the press during the Abyssian War 1935-1936 and the Spanish Civil War, where he ferried newspapermen from one battle district to another and must have been one of the few men to carry a passport stampedwith visas from both sides!.His envoy carried neutral markings and apart from one occasion, he steerred clear of trouble. Between 1936-37 Falk flew a newspaper service between london and Paris and another between London and Scotland, before concentrating on full time test flying and becoming and Air Registration Board Test Pilot in 1938.

During 1939-45 he served with the RAF and in 1943 became Chief Test Pilot at RAE Farnborough. He did over 2000 hours flying 300 different aircrfat types of aircrcraft which ranged from gliders and flying boats to jet and rocket propelled prototypes including captured German aircraft.
In 1946 he was Chief experimental Test Pilot for Vickers Armstrong and in 1949, while working on research that was to lead to the Viscount turbo-prop liner, he had a very unfortunate accident when flying a Wellington,finishing up ploughing through a house.
In 1950, Falk became the Chief Test Pilot with A.V. Roe when he subsequently took over the delta development flying. The first flying model, the 707 had been lost in an accident during an early flight but Falk started work on the 707A and B. The maiden flight of the Avro 707B was in 1950 and the 707A in 1951. On August 30th 1952, Falk took the full size 698 up on its maiden flight, the aircraft needed only very few minor modifications before it went into production for the RAF as the Vulcan bomber. The first flight of the Vulcan B1 was in 1952 and the Vulcan B2 in 1957.