Friday, April 24, 2015

Roger Beazley CBE, AFC, BA (Hons), FRAeS

Roger H Beazley [RHB] flew his first solo in a Tiger Moth derivative, the Thruxton Jackaroo whilst undergoing an air cadet scholarship in 1959. He subsequently qualified as a gliding instructor within the air cadet movement whilst employed in industry as an electrical engineering draughtsman.
In 1964 he left industry to join the Royal Air Force to train as a pilot following which he flew Hunters, BAC Lightnings in Germany and then the Phantom F4 based in Scotland. He was selected for test pilot training during 1972 and graduated from the Empire Test Pilots’ School [ETPS] in 1973.
Following ETPS training he remained at Boscombe Down and joined B Squadron [Bombers and Transport Aircraft] working on the yet to fly MRCA [Tornado] project. He flew development and clearance flying on Canberra and Buccaneer aircraft with support flying on the Hercules, Comet and Nimrod aircraft. After 9 months on B Squadron a reorganisation at Boscombe Down allocated the Buccaneer, the MRCA and the associated flight test crews to A Squadron [Fighter Test].
During his time on A Squadron, he became increasingly involved in the early days of the MRCA project [by then named Tornado], including the airborne chase of UK’s first Tornado flight and subsequently in Manching Germany, flying the first tri-national assessment of the aircraft’s navigation and attack system.

Flight test work at Boscombe Down included development and certification flying on the Hawk, Phantom, Buccaneer and Jaguar aircraft embracing handling, systems, weapon aiming and air to air refuelling work. In addition to the Tornado, two  handling and system evaluations were carried out away from Boscombe Down, the F111E Ardvark flown from the USAF base at Upper Heyford in the UK and the F15 Eagle flown at Edwards Air Force Base in the US. Following a 2 year tour as a project test pilot RHB was re-toured for further two years as the A Squadron’s Senior Pilot. 

Leaving Boscombe Down in 1978, he served in the UK Ministry of Defence Operational Requirements Division working on the flight test, weapons and piloting issues of the Tornado’s entry into RAF service.
Appointed Commander Flying at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Bedford he found himself responsible for the operations of Radar Research and Flight Systems Squadrons as well as the operational and administrative aspects of the airfield along with command and domestic aspects of a detached military unit. Amongst others his research flying focussed on radar and flight systems, workload assessments, fog flying research and turbulence response measurements. Aircraft included the BAC111, Canberra, HS125, Hunter, Gnat, HS748 plus others and, having converted to rotary aircraft, the Wessex, Gazelle and Sea King helicopters.

He found it a particular privilege to fly a number of sorties in the WW1 SE5a following a major servicing at Bedford, along with the return delivery to its real home in the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden.
Following the six month Air Warfare Course at the RAF College Cranwell, three years were spent at the NATO Supreme Headquarters in Mons Belgium addressing strategic policy, warfare studies and military command & control issues.       
Returning to the UK, RHB was appointed Head of Experimental Flying at the Royal Aircraft Establishment responsible for experimental and support flying and the military domestic support at the Farnborough, Bedford, Llanbedr, Aberporth and West Freugh airfields. Although besieged by the inevitable administration and staff work he managed to become personally involved in a range of flight test systems research flying principally embracing the Hawk, Andover, BAC111, Comet 4, and Hercules W2 along with considerable support and communications flying in the Navajo Chieftain and Gazelle helicopter. Fewer flight hours, although of particular interest, included the Meteor and the Varsity.
The Farnborough appointment included that of Display Director of the Farnborough International Airshow an association which extended well after his Farnborough appointment and resulted in continued support to a number of other airshows both in the UK and overseas; an activity which continued for a period in excess of 20 years and well into retirement.  
RHB’s final military appointment was as Director of Flying [Research & Development] within the UK Ministry of Defence. His responsibilities included the supervision and regulation of all UK MoD research, development and production flying both at the official establishments and in industry. He retained “hands on” contact by continuing to occasionally fly the Meteorological Research Hercules W2.
On retirement from the Service in 1996 he took the appointment of Aerospace Adviser at the flight test centre at MoD Boscombe Down and then as a consultant to ETPS. During that period he travelled extensively on flight safety, flight test and flight test training interests across North & South America, South Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific Rim including China and Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

RHB is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots [US] and Honorary Member of the Flight Test Society of Australia. He was decorated with an Air Force Cross [AFC] in 1978 and appointed Commander of the British Empire [CBE] in 1996. In 2003 he was awarded the Master's Commendation from the City of London Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators for his work in supervising the display flying at the Farnborough International Airshow for some 12 years and in 2006, awarded a Master Air Pilot Certificate again by the City Guild.