Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ronald C.W. Ellison 1908-1996

Ron Ellison (left) in front of a Beaufighter along with Hugh Statham(right)

Few test pilots anywhere can have equalled the total of over 7,000 hours of flying for one firm. Such is the record of Ronald Ellison, when he retired from test flying for the Bristol Aeroplane Co. His Bristol experience embraced at least 36 different types of aircraft and development flying on nine engines—Pegasus,Mercury, Perseus, Aquila,Taurus, Hercules, Centaurus,
Theseus and Proteus. He was the first man to take the Proteus into the air (in a Lincoln testbed)and has flown in all some 8,000 hours, on 80 different types of aircraft.

Born in 1908 and educated at Bedford School and in H.M.S.Conway, Mr. Ellison spent three years in the Merchant Service before taking a short-service commission in the R.A.F. in April 1929. In 1930 he was posted to No. 17 (Fighter) Sqn. at Upavon,where he flew his first Bristol aircraft, the Bulldog. After a course at the C.F.S., he was posted as an instructor at Cranwell. During the last year of service he flew Wallaces and Wapitis with No. 501 Reserve Squadron at Filton, where he became well known to staff of the Bristol Flying School. As a result, he was offered a post as instructor when, with some 1,000 hours in his log, he left the R.A.F. in 1934. In addition to acting as instructor at the school (then equipped with Tiger Moths), Mr. Ellison was employed on the development flight testing of a variety of Bristol engines. When war broke out, he joined the test pilot staff and on January 1st, 1941,became chief production test pilot
at the Company's Weston-Super-Mare shadow factory.
Of the total of over 3,300 Beaufighters built at Weston during the next five years, he flew precisely 1,800, including the 1,000th, 2,000th, 3,000th and last aircraft. In 1945 he returned to Filton, where he was engaged on the flight testing of the Buckingham, Buckmaster, Brigand and Freighter and the development testing of Hercules, Centaurus, Theseus and Proteus engines.

In 1949, he was made assistant chief test pilot, a position which he relinquished at the end of 1952. Since the war's end, Ronald Ellison had flown many thousands of miles as the pilot of Bristol Freighters. While demonstrating the aeroplane or instructing new pilots, he visited Pakistan (three times), Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Burma and Iraq. Early this year he flew to Johannesburg a Freighter loaded with supplies and equipment for the Britannia's tropical trials. He made the flight of over 6,000 miles with four night stops in a total flying time of 43 hrs.