Monday, August 25, 2008

André Edouard Turcat 1921-2016

French Major André Edouard Turcat was born on the 23rd October 1921.

He is a graduate of France’s prestigious Ecole Polytechnique. Turcat joined the Free French air force during the final years of WWII and stayed with the Armee de L’Air after the war. During the Indochina War, Turcat served as a pilot of C-47 transport aircraft and demonstrated exceptional skills in handling a number of flight emergencies, thus earning an assignment to EPNER, the French Test Pilot School.

Shortly after graduating, Turcat took over the test campaign of the Nord 1500 Griffon, one of the world's first ramjet-powered aircraft. During this successful program, Turcat flew the Griffon at Mach 2.19, a feat that earned him the prestigious Harmon Trophy in 1958. A few months later (February 25, 1959), Turcat broke the world speed record over 100 kilometers with the Griffon at an average 1,643 km/h (1,021mph).
Turcat left the military after the Griffon program ended and joined state-owned aircraft manufacturer Sud Aviation as the Concorde supersonic transport (SST) program which was just starting. He became Concorde’s Chief Test Pilot and Sud Aviation's director of flight testing.
On March 2nd 1969, Turcat had the honour of flying the first prototype (001) of Concorde for its maiden flight. Later that year (October 1), he was also at the controls for Concorde's first supersonic flight. Turcat conducted the rest of the French side of the Concorde test program (Brian Trubshaw being the chief test pilot on the British side) and retired from active flying duty in the late 1970s.