Tuesday, January 22, 2008

John D. Derry DFC 1921-1952

John Derry joined RAF in late 1939/ early 1940. He was initially a wireless operator/air gunner on 269Sqn flying Wellingtons and Hudsons frrom Wick in Scotland. He was selected for pilot training in canada in 1943, ended the war flying Typhoons.

He first joined Supermarine as a test pilot before moving to DeHavilland in late October 1947.
He was the first British pilot to exceed the speed of sound in the UK on 6 September 1948 in in a DH 108 research aircraft.At the Farnborough airshow in 1952, John Derry flying a DH110 with observer, Anthony Richards dived from a height of 40,000 feet towards Farnborough, causing sonic booms. As the DH110 swept low over the aerodrome the crowd's admiration changed to horror. Without warning the aircraft broke up, its cockpit fell onto the runway and two engines hurtled through the air, hit the ground and bounced into a section of the watching public. Twenty-six were killed and 65 injured as burning debris continued to fall from the sky. Derry and Richards were killed immediately.