Gp Cpt Hugh J. ('Willie') Wilson CBE AFC 1908-1990
Hugh Joseph ('Willie') Wilson was born in 1908 and educated at University School, Hastings. He served and apprenticeship in the cotton trade between 1925-1929. He joined the RAF on a short service commission in 1929 and was posted to No 5 Flight Training School, Sealand, Flintshire.
On completion of his training he served with 111Sqn, Hornchurch, Essex between 1930-1932. He was posted to the Fleet Air Arm in 1932, and served with School of Naval Co-operation, Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire for 2 years before being released from RAF in1934. He took a conversion course on flying boats while on Reserve, and qualified as Flying Instructor in 1935.
He became Chief Instructor and Manager, York County Aviation Club and a Flying Instructor at the RAF Reserve School. In 1936 be became a Flying Instructor at Blackburns, Hanworth, Surrey, and Brough, Yorkshire. He was a test pilot for Blackburn Aircraft Ltd, and in that capacity performed the maiden flight of the Blackburn Roc in 1938. He became a Civil Test Pilot at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, Hampshire, and was recalled to RAF as Sqn Ldr in 1939.
He was the Commanding Officer, Aerodynamic Flight, Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, Hampshire, and during this time he was temporarily attached to 74 Fighter Sqn, Biggin Hill, Kent, to assess fighter requirements. He was awarded the AFC in 1941. He became Chief Test Pilot, Royal Aircraft Establishment, responsible for initial test flights on all captured enemy aircraft between 1941-1945 and was a Test Pilot at the British Air Commission in Washington DC, on loan to US Army Air Force, US Navy and US Marine Corps.
He was seconded to 616 Sqn to train pilots on the Gloster Meteor jet fighter in 1944 and then went to the Empire Test Pilots' School, Cranfield, as Commandant. He set a new world air speed record of 606 miles per hour in Gloster Meteor IV, 1945 and was awarded CBE. He retired from RAF in 1948 and became Managing Director and Chief Test Pilot for Planet Aircraft,followed by appointments as Sales Manager (Engines), Blackburn and General Aircraft Limited and Rolls Royce Limited, Small Engine Division.