Sunday, November 05, 2006

Leslie Robert Colquhoun DFC GM DFM 1921-2001

Vicker-Supermarine Test Pilot 1946-1963

In 1940 he volunteered to join the RAF Volunteer Reserve as aircrew. He completed flying training at 18 Elementary Flying Training School at Fairoaks on Tiger Moths, and at 9 Flying Training School at Hullavington on Masters and Hurricanes. In 1941 he was on Operational Training Unit at Hawarden on Spitfires and in October joined 603 Squadron at RAF Hornchurch carrying out sweeps and patrols. In 1942 he was posted to deliver Spitfire PR MkIV to 2 Photo Reconnaissance Unit in Cairo via Gibraltar and Malta.

He was ordered to remain in Malta and join 69 Squadron carrying out photo reconnaissance flights over Sicily, Southern Italy, Greece, North Africa and Sardinia totalling 157 Operational Sorties. He was awarded the DFM for operations in Malta with 69 Squadron. In January 1943 he was posted to 2 Photo Reconnaissance OTU at Dyce and in October was posted to 682 Squadron carrying out reconnaissance flights over Italy and Europe completing 236 operational Sorties. He was awarded the DFC for operations with 682 Squadron. In September 1944 he was posted back to OTU at Dyce.

In February 1945 he was posted to Vickers-Supermarine at High Post near Salisbury as a Service test pilot working under Jeffrey Quill the Vickers Chief Test Pilot. He was involved with the production testing of later marks of Spitfire, the Spiteful and Seafang. In 1946 he was invited to remain with the Vickers test flying team after being demobilsed from the RAF.

As a full member of the Vickers test flying team he became involved with the development of Attacker, Swift, Scimitar ans Seagull in addition to duties as chief production test pilot.In 1951 he carried out some of the flying for David Lean's Film 'The Sound Barrier. In 1953 he was responsible for selecting and setting up the course in Libya for Mike Lithgow's World Air Speed Record attempt in the Swift.

In 1957 he elected to stay with Vickers to complete the company's Scimitar Programme. The remainder of the Vickers-Supermarine test pilot team went to join merged Vickers and English Electric Orgainisation which became British Aircraft Corporation.

In 1960 he was involved with the development of the Vickers Hovercraft project and became Operations Manager. In 1963 he delivered last production Scimitar to the Royal Navy. In 1962 he pioneered the fisrt commercial passenger carrying hovercraft service between Wallasey and Rhyl using 30 Seat Vickers VA3 Hovercraft. In 1966 he left Vickers after 21 years as a test pilot to start up Hoverlloyd cross channel service from Ramsgate to Calais and was appointed Managing Director in 1967. In 1972 he left Hoverlloyds to set up consultancy specialising in fast marine ferries.