Saturday, August 25, 2007

Walter J. 'Wally' Runciman AFC DFM 1920-1956

Wally Runciman standing beside leg of SA4 Sperrin

Walter Runciman was born in 1920 in New Zealand, he came to England with the RNZAF and flew Stirlings (being awarded the DFM and, after receiving his commission, the AFC, both on this aircraft) and then Mosquitos in WWII, he was a Squadron Leader when the war ended. He returned to NZ after the war but in 1947 returned to England to join the RAF in 1948 as Flt. Lt. In 1950 he attended No. 9 Course ETPS (one of very few New Zealanders to attend) and was then posted to Boscombe Down; in 1952 he was seconded to Shorts in Belfast, where he worked on Canberras, the SA.4 Sperrin (including the maiden flight of the 2nd prototype) and was responsible for the flight test programme for the SB.6 Seamew (by which time he had left the RAF and joined Shorts).

He demonstrated the Seamew at Farnborough on at least two occasions (1953 and 1954) and in early 1956 took it on extended sales tours to Italy, Yugoslavia and West Germany. He had 3,000 hours on 50 types. On the 9th June 1956 he was killed while flying the Seamew at the RAFA display at Belfast.