Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Flt Lt David Ince DFC

Olympia 403 at Lasham prior to take off on test flight
Flying formation alongside Nick Goodhart
Olympia 403 development flight at Twinwood Farm
David Ince was born in Glasgow and was educated at Aysgarth School and Cheltenham College. Failing to meet the eyesight standards for aircrew he became a gunner officer in 1940 and managed to pass a wartime RAF medical board at his third attempt. Seconded for Army Cooperation duties, he trained in Canada at 35 EFTS and 37 SFTS before returning to the UK to fly Hurricanes and Mustangs at 41 OTU.

Subsequently converting to Typhoons he flew with 193 and 257 Squadrons, from Normandy until the end of hostilities in Europe, completing almost 150 sorties and being awarded an immediate DFC.

He took a leading part in trials, demonstrations and the early operational use of Napalm. Two ninety gallon drop tanks painted red - filled with petroleum jelly to be set off by phosphorous igniters. They were viewed with great suspicion, no instructions as to how to drop them. The Wing's best bomber pilot was selected and David Ince was to take the photographs. When the bomber pilot went on rest, the task became David's. "You know all about it" they said!! The tanks had no fins and tumbled as they fell. He dropped them as low as possible and - no bouncing with those bombs - always hit the target. They were used once in anger - (probably the only such RAF operation in WW II) on a German strongpoint near Arnhem - and the survivors were frightened to death. Many years later he read a Boscombe Down report (lost in the fog of war?) which stated that:- "Under no circumstances are these weapons to be dropped at less than 100 ft"

His worst moment came when he was almost shot down by flak over Rotterdam - photographing the Gestapo headquarters - following a Wing attack by some sixty Typhoons,having to creep home, mostly on instruments, with oil pouring over the canopy and into the cockpit. Somehow he made it to a safe landing on the nearest allied airfield. He later devised and proved a camera installation for low level close up target photography, which was an immediate success. In the closing stages of the war he was leading 193 Squadron on shipping strikes in the Baltic.

After attending the No 4 Course (first post war course) at The Empire Test Pilots School he returned to University to complete an engineering degree. His test flying career terminated rather rapidly, after attending No 4 Course at ETPS as Glosters nominee, due to chronic sinusitis, which was bad news with high altitude development sorties and early pressure cabins. In the event he did some Balliol flying with Boulton Paul Aircraft whilst taking the engineering degree (Ben Gunn and Dickie Mancus were great friends of his who helped him come to terms with the loss of a test flying career)

On taking up Gliding in 1947 he was immediately involved in glider testing. Firstly with several British Gliding Association Test Groups and then with Elliotts of Newbury for some 10 years.