Alexander James Heyworth DFC* FRAeS 1922-2010
He was seconded from the RAF to Rolls-Royce at Hucknall in 1944 in order to "develop a new type of power unit" which was, of course, the Whittle Unit; however, whilst detached, he remained in the RAF until de-mobbed in 1946. His first aircraft flown at Rolls-Royce was the Fairey Battle modified as a testbed for the Exe engine and his first experience of flying a jet-engined aircraft was the Wellington testbed aircraft modified to carry the Whittle W2B jet engine; he also undertook flight-testing of the Whittle engine, by now named Welland, in the prototype Meteor.
Over a period of 18 years as a test pilot with Rolls-Royce, he was involved in testing all Rolls-Royce turbo-jets, turbo-props, and fan engines and flew 82 different aircraft types. Notable amongst these were the Merlin-engined Mustang; the Lancastrian testbed fitted with Nene engines and later with Avons; the Nene-engined Vampire; the Avon-powered Meteor; the world's first propeller-turbine aircraft, the Trent-engined Meteor; the Meteor fitted with RB108 vertical lift engines; two years development of vertical take-off on the Nene-powered Flying Bedstead - precursor to the design of future vertical take-off aircraft e.g. the Harrier; the prototype Canberra fitted with Nene engines and the Canberra fitted with RA29 engines for the Comet 4 aircraft and also the re-heated Avon; the Nene-powered Avro Ashton testbed aircraft including that fitted with the Conway; the Lincoln testbed with a nose-mounted Tyne engine; the reverse-thrust Hunter; the Conway-engined Vulcan; the Dart Dakota; plus many more including Lancaster 111, Mosquito, Hurricane, the Griffon-engined Spitfire, Hornet, Clyde Turboprop Wyvern, Shackleton, Attacker, Sea Hawk, Swift, Valiant, Avro 707, Ambassador, Lansen, Javelin and Lightning.
Jim Heyworth was appointed Rolls-Royce Chief Test Pilot in 1955. In 1962 he ceased test flying and undertook various management jobs with Rolls-Royce, retiring in 1981 as Executive-Management Development. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1962 and in the same year was awarded the Thulin Medal by the Swedish Aeronautical Society.