Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Richard J 'Dick' Chandler 1925 - 2005

Dick Chandler with SAAF Pilot on check out flight
Dick Chandler (Centre)

Richard John Chandler was born in Ealing and brought up in Whitton near Twickenham, he spent his spare time watching aeroplanes at the near-by Hanworth Aerodrome, where he would subsequently become a pilot.
The son of a buyer for Lyon's Corner House, he had six brothers and sisters – his eldest sister was 21 years his senior – and was educated at Hounslow College. At 17 he joined the RAF, and began his flying training in early 1943 in Rhodesia, then flew Harvards, Hurricanes, and on 10 July 1944 flew the Spitfire (Mark VB) as a Sergeant Pilot. He went on to fly hundreds of hours in Spitfires and Hurricanes.
He qualified as a fighter pilot and was posted to India, but there he contracted diphtheria, and was out of action for some time. After his recovery he was posted to Transport Command in North Africa, where he ferried Spitfires and Hurricanes across Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
After the war, with the rank of Flight Lieutenant, he left the RAF and obtained his civil pilot and navigator licenses, and resumed flying as a commercial pilot with North Sea Air Transport operating from Hanworth.
When North Sea Air Transport was acquired by Blackburn Aircraft, he moved to Brough in East Yorkshire. There he persuaded the then Chief Test Pilot Tim Woods to allow him to become a test pilot and he started testing the Firebrand.
Later he test-flew the Beverley, which at the time was the largest transport aeroplane in the world. It was used with great effect in the Middle East where the Oman Government had offered a drilling contract for a major new oil field.
The problem was that it was several hundred miles from the sea and presented a new challenge in transporting equipment. The Oman Government offered the contract to the first company that could get a drill to the site. So in 1955, Richard was appointed Senior Pilot in an operation to fly the equipment from Umm Said to Fahud. The race was on with the Americans who were going overland. The race was won by the British, thanks to the capabilities of the Blackburn Beverley.
Richard then made the transition to jet aircraft and became one of the test pilots on the NA39, subsequently named the Buccaneer. This was probably one of the most dangerous periods of his career. Indeed he watched one of his friends and colleagues "Sailor" Parker get into difficulties whilst flying a Buccaneer at Holme-on-Spalding Moor. Unable to eject, the pilot and observer were killed.
Richard retired from test flying in 1965, but continued to fly the Dove communications aeroplane for British Aerospace around the UK and Europe. He was also Aerodrome Manager.
After his eventual retirement from full-time flying, he continued to fly the Blackburn B2. He had always demonstrated aeroplanes at air shows and continued to do this with the B2 until he finally gave up flying in 1998 at the age of 74.
In 1981 he started a new phase in his career at British Aerospace when he became Assistant to the Divisional Head of Overseas Training, and led a delegation to Algiers to sell training services, where he became known as Monsieur le Professeur.
In 1982 he was made responsible for Management Development, and in 1984 was appointed Head of Management Services at British Aerospace, building up close links in and around East Yorkshire with training agencies and local schools and colleges.