Friday, December 12, 2008

Keith Chadbourn 1933-




Keith Chadbourn a former naval aviator, flying mostly Gannets at RNAS Eglinton, Culdrose, and from HMS Ark Royal, he joined Fairey Aviation as a test pilot and flying instructor, Fairey having sold Gannet A/S aircraft to the Indonesian Navy. He spent 2 1/2 years at Surabaja setting up the Indonesian Fleet Air Arm. Returning to UK in 1962, Westland Aircraft having aquired Fairey in the meantime, there was no job. He became an Air Traffic Controller at Heathrow but was delighted to be invited back to White Waltham to head the test flying of Gannet AEW3's being refurbished for a further lease of life with the Fleet.

A move to the west country followed and though continuing with Gannet flying until 1976 he qualified on all the helicopters then and susequently being made by Westland. He finished his active test flying in 1988, but continued as a communications pilot flying the company's Agusta 109 until 1992. From 1954 to 1992, when he retired as Senior Test Pilot, Keith amassed 6,162 hours on 38 types, aeroplanes and helicopters. While at White Waltham the aeroplanes included Swordfish, Fulmar, Stinson Reliant, Auster, Tiger Moth, Dragon Rapide, Dove, Tipsy Nipper, Junior and 'B'. (Peter Twiss was very generous). He flew at Farnborough, Hanover and Paris airshows and at Marignane, in Spain, Qatar, Sweden and Egypt. He was a Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (because of an abiding interest in the Anglo/Zulu war of 1879). He received a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air in the 1989 New Year Honours. He now resides comfortably in Dorset and tries to keep in touch with former fellow aviators.