Friday, March 31, 2006

Michael 'Mike' John Lithgow 1920-1963

Mike Lithgow joined the Royal Navy in 1938 during WW2 he served with . He was posted to A&AEE at Boscombe Down in 1943 and attended the ETPS course there in 1944. He was with the British Air Commission in the USA from 1944-1945. He joined Supermarine as a test pilot in 1945 and succeeded Jeffrey Quill as Chief Test Pilot in 1948.
He set up the 100km closed-circuit record in an Attacker, and held the London-Paris and Paris-London records in the Supermarine Swift. He set a world speed record in 1953 with the Swift F.4 at Castel Idris in Libya,with a speed of 735.7mph.
He was responsible for much of the Vickers Vanguard development flying before moving onto the BAC 1-11 test programme. He was killed in 1963 when the BAC-111 he was testing went into a deep stall and crashed at Cricklade,Wilstshire

David William Morgan M.B.E. 1923-2004

Dave Morgan (right) with Jeffrey Quill prior to a ferry flight to Pakistan

David William Morgan was born on April 15 1923 at Heanor, Derbyshire. His family moved to north London, and he was educated at University College School, where his flair for precise technical description was evident when he was commended for an account of "how to mend a puncture in 50 words" - an activity he had seen but never performed.Morgan volunteered for flying duties in the RAF in 1941, but was rejected on medical grounds, specifically because of his poor hearing, which he blamed on too much shooting at Bisley without ear protectors. Six months later the same doctor passed him as "exceptionally fit". After training at Cambridge and in South Africa, Morgan spent a period on air traffic duties at Woodhall Spa, the home of No 617 Dam Busters Squadron, where he flew unofficially on attacks against the V-1 rocket sites. Because there was a surplus of pilots in the RAF, he transferred to the Fleet Air Arm in 1944, flying Seafire fighters from the aircraft carrier Stalker in the Indian Ocean.
After the war Morgan became a flying instructor, before completing No 7 Course at the Empire Test Pilots' School; he flew in a formation of Hawker Sea Fury fighters that broke the London to Malta speed record. In June 1950 he joined Vickers Supermarine as a test pilot. Morgan test-flew the Navy's Attacker jet fighter, which was also purchased by the Pakistan Air Force. While ferrying the prototype aircraft to Karachi, he was forced to land en route at Baghdad on one wheel; engineers quickly repaired the aircraft, and he was able to touch down at Karachi in time for the Independence Day flypast.

Morgan was one of the pilots that flew a Supermarine experimental swept-wing aircraft in David Lean's film The Sound Barrier (1952). For the purpose of the film, the aircraft was called "Prometheus"; and, with the exception of a few acceptable pieces of artistic licence, Morgan felt that the film was a reasonable portrayal of the time, the characters and the professional setting.The Swift was an aircraft that had a number of significant shortcomings; and the Hawker Hunter, which was being developed at the same time, enjoyed a much better reputation. Morgan lost no opportunity to show the Swift in a better light, and, flying to an air display in Belgium at 667 mph, he reached Brussels in the record time of 18 minutes.In the event, the RAF chose the Hawker Hunter for its new fighter. But the Swift found its niche in a low-level, highspeed fighter reconnaissance role operating from RAF airfields in Germany. It performed very well, and Morgan always believed that the FR 4 version of the Swift was "the best that was available at the time to operate at really high speeds on the deck".Morgan then became heavily involved in the development of the Navy's powerful and rugged Scimitar fighter-bomber. He was responsible for the weapons and engineering development of the aircraft, and carried out most of the test flights on the then-new toss-bombing Low Altitude Bombing System (LABS) manoeuvre.He was then appointed the project pilot for the TSR 2's nav/attack system; but the Labour government cancelled the project before he could make his first flight.

The aircraft's demise marked the end of Morgan's test-flying, and he began a new career in marketing with the new British Aircraft Corporation. He combined his grasp of technical issues with an easy charm and a fine network of contacts as he sold military aircraft and missile systems (in particular, the Rapier air defence missile) to countries in the Far East.In 1986 he was appointed MBE for his contribution to British aviation over 40 years.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Qurin Kim

Qurin Kim undertook his pilot training for the German Air force in the USA in 1980/81. He became an F-4F pilot at the 74th Fighter wing in Neuberg, Germany progressing to an instructor pilot and fighter weapons instructor and then for 5 years he was the Operations Officer for the 74th wing.

In 1993 he was appointed Project pilot and German Air Force representative on the International Experimental Project X-31 at the NASA Dryden Test Centre.

He served a further 5 years in the air force before leaving to work for EADS.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Col. Emil "Jack" Kluever 1925-2011

Jack Kluever was born 28th November 1925 in Brayton, Iowa. He was the youngest of seven children born to Emil C. and Louise A. Kluever. He joined the U.S. Army in 1944, training to fly B-25's so he could join his two older brothers, Arnold and Lester, in Europe in WWII. Jack's military career spanned 32 years from 1944 to 1976. He served two tours in Korea (2nd Infantry Division, 38th Field Artillery Battalion, 1952, and Commanded the 13th Transportation Helicopter Co., 1963) and one tour in Vietnam (Commanded AMMC, 1970). Jack enjoyed a love of education earning a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from Auburn University and M.S. in engineering management from USC, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and the MBA program at UNLV. Also, Jack loved to fly, learning to fly over 67 different aircraft both fixed wing and rotor in his lifetime. He attended the U.S.A.F. Test Pilot School at Edwards A.F.B. in 1960, winning the A.B. Honts Trophy for Overall Excellence. He was a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
A helicopter test pilot, Col. Emil "Jack" Kluever was detailed to NASA's Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in the mid-1960s as a test pilot on the Lunar Landing Research Vehicles (LLRV). Kluever was the only pilot to fly LLRV No. 2, which was flown only six times during its brief flight test program at Edwards in early 1967. It was then transferred to Ellington Air Force Base near Houston where it was cannibalized for parts to keep the first LLRV and three Lunar Landing Test Vehicles used in the Apollo astronaut lunar landing training program airworthy. LLRV No. 2 has been partially restored and is preserved in the collection of historic aircraft at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards. Kluever also flew several test flights in the Paraglider Research Vehicle – or Parasev – at NASA's Flight Research Center in 1964. The Parasev was a small experimental craft designed to explore the potential of a flexible, fabric-covered Rogallo wing design as a means of enabling future spacecraft to glide to an airplane-style landing.While at Edwards, Kluever attended the Air Force Test Pilot School; he graduated with class 60B.
He had the honor of flying the replica of the Spirit of St. Louis which now hangs in the Lambert Field Rotunda. He served as the project manager for the U.S. Army/Lockheed Cheyenne Helicopter test program and command the Toole Army Depot.

Jeffrey Kindersly Quill 1913-1996

Jeffrey Quill was born at Littlehampton in Sussex in 1913, the youngest of five children. In 1926 he began his secondary education at Lancing College, which overlooks Shoreham aerodrome. The constant aerial activity overhead quickened the already air-minded Quill's resolve to take a non-commissioned career in the Royal Air Force long before he left Lancing in 1931.
Aged 18 Quill was accepted into the RAF as an Acting Pilot Officer. He learned to fly on Avro Tutor biplanes and went solo in the remarkably short time of 5 hours 20 minutes (9 hours being regarded as the norm). He graduated on to Siskin IIIA advanced trainers, and his flying ability was assessed as "exceptional". In September 1932 he joined No 17 Squadron RAF at Upavon, where he began flying Bristol Bulldog fighters. He flew as often as possible in order to familiarise himself with the aeroplane, practising aerobatics and flying in cloud. This discipline was to stand Quill in good stead for his future career as a test pilot.
While still at Lancing Quill had attended the famous RAF Display at Hendon, never perhaps dreaming that he would soon participate. He did so on 24 June 1933, taking part in a mock bombing attack. Quill's aptitude and penchant for flying in all weathers suited his posting to the Meteorological Flight at Duxford. There, flying open-cockpit Siskins, the unit made twice- daily scheduled flights (except on Sundays) up to 25,000ft to collect data for weather reports. After Quill took command of the flight in November 1934 he and his team managed to fly every "slot" for a whole year, regardless of "unflyable" weather, without missing a flight. For this achievement Quill was awarded the Air Force Cross. On one occasion, when letting down through cloud, his Siskin hit the ground very hard but in perfect landing attitude, bounced over a hedge and overturned, pushing Quill's head forward on to the cockpit coaming (its raised border). Had he not already received a broken nose from a boxing accident he would have qualified for the "Siskin nose" - a characteristic of many pilots of the period.
In January 1936 Quill joined Vickers (Aviation) Ltd as assistant to its chief test pilot, "Mutt" Summers. His initial task was the testing of the Wellesley bomber, and it was while flying a production Wellesley that Quill had a narrow escape. The 74ft 7in-span bomber refused to recover from a spin and at 3,000ft Quill decided to bale out. As he descended, the spiralling bomber seemed intent on slicing the pilot with its wings; but he landed safely not far from the Kingston bypass.
Quill's long association with the Spitfire began in earnest when he made his first flight in the prototype on 26 March 1936, the second person to fly the type after Mutt Summers. There was some rivalry with Hawker, whose Hurricane had first flown four months earlier and Quill's priority was to get the Spitfire cleared for acceptance by the RAF. A thoroughbred from the start, the Spitfire nevertheless needed a great deal of work before it was deemed safe for young RAF pilots to fly, and did not enter squadron service until July 1938. However, developed through many marks and variants, the Spitfire remained a first-line fighter throughout the war. During this entire period Quill was in charge of development and production flying, a job that he took very seriously - so seriously that he felt he must obtain first-hand combat experience.
During August- September 1940 he was temporarily released to join No 63 Squadron at RAF Hornchurch, privately hoping that it would be a permanent appointment. On 16 August he shot down an Me109 and two days later he shared a victory over Heinkel He 111. His combat days were short-lived, but they made Quill all the more determined to make the Spitfire an even better fighting machine. In 1942 the Luftwaffe's Focke Wulf Fw190 was gaining the edge over Allied fighters, and it was an urgent priority to capture an example. For a while Quill was on standby to be taken to France in order to hijack a Fw190 back to England. Fortunately an example was delivered to the RAF on a plate in the meantime, when a disorientated German pilot landed at a Welsh airfield by mistake.
With the introduction of the navalised Spitfire, the Fleet Air Arm suffered enormous losses through deck-landing accidents. In the space of three days one force of 106 Seafires was reduced to 64 serviceable aircraft: something had to be done. Quill duly spent five months with the Navy, during which time he made 75 deck landings. The distinguished naval test pilot Capt Eric "Winkle" Brown later wrote, "{Quill} was an inspired choice, as he had the analytical mind of a superb test pilot trained to find answers to any flight problem." Equally importantly, he could explain testing problems to his team in language which everyone could understand.
By the end of the war Quill had personally test flown all 50-odd variants of Spitfire and Seafire. The rapid increase in performance, armament and all-up weight produced a never-ending stream of design changes, most of which tended to be detrimental to handling qualities and affected the Spitfire's aesthetics. But, as Quill remarked, "We were trying to produce the most effective flying machine, not the most elegant flying machine." His personal favourite mark, from a pure flying point of view, was the Spitfire VIII, with standard wings.
Quill continued as chief test pilot after the war, when Vickers - ever on the cutting edge of development - produced Britain's third jet aircraft, the Attacker. On 27 July 1946, Quill made the first flight, from Boscombe Down, and continued to undertake the testing until, one day the following June, he passed out at about 40,000ft. Fortunately he recovered at about 10,000ft in time to land safely. Quill had been flying continually for 16 years, often at high altitude and without oxygen; he was tired and unwell, and he knew that his career as a test pilot was over. He handed the reigns to Mike Lithgow and prepared himself to fly a desk. He had logged more than 5,000 flying hours in nearly 100 different types of aircraft.
Quill continued to fly, delivering Spitfires 22s to Cairo and Attackers to the Royal Pakistan Air Force. For many years he kept his hand in with the Spitfire, flying a Mk V at airshows, his aerobatic displays indicating that the master had not lost his touch. His last flight in a Spitfire was made on 16 June 1960, 30 years after his first flight in the prototype. Afterwards he recalled, "As I climbed out of the cockpit, I had that feeling of sadness of bidding farewell to an old friend."
The desk flying began in 1948, with Vickers-Armstrong. After the formation of the British Aircraft Corporation Quill became involved with the Jaguar programme from its inception and became director of the Anglo-French company Sepecat. He was in at the start of the tri-national Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (Tornado) programme in 1969 and became Director of Marketing in Panavia until retiring in 1978.
Outside flying, Quill's interests extended to sailing and powerboat racing. In 1962 he and his friend Lt-Cdr Don Robertson, a former test pilot with Supermarine, won the Daily Express offshore powerboat race in Tramontana, a wooden Vosper-built craft powered by two Italian 37-litre engines, The following year the pair finished third in Tramontana II.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wilfred Ronald 'Ron' Gellatly OBE,AFC 1920-1983

Ron Gellatly joined the RNZAF in 1940. Between 1942 and 1945 he did 77 light bomber and GR operations. He commanded 293 Sqn RAF from October 1944 to July 1945. He gained a permanent commission in 1947.
He attended the ETPS in 1950 and was helciopter flight commander at A&AEE from 1951-1954. He joined Fairey Aviation where he flew the maiden flights of the Fairey Ultralight and Rotodyne. When Fairey was merged into Westland he continued test flying various models,he became Chief Test Pilot of Westland and flew the maiden flight of the Lynx.

Harald Penrose 1904-1996

Harald Penrose was one of the British aviation industry's most respected test pilots.
His appointment in 1931 as chief test pilot at Westland Aircraft began a 22-year labour of love: he made the initial test flights on all the subsequent Westland types, notably the extraordinary pterodactyl series of tail-less monoplanes designed by Captain Geoffrey Hill, the Houston- Westland PV3 which flew over Everest in April 1933 and the Lysander army co- operation aircraft. A disastrous in-flight structural failure of the P7 monoplane allowed Penrose the dubious privilege of becoming the first pilot to bale out of an enclosed-cockpit aeroplane, though he was forced to make his exit via a side window when suction forces jammed the sliding roof.
Born in Hereford in 1904, when man was making his first faltering essays into the skies, Penrose became enamoured with flight at the age of five, after his father showed him a picture of the monoplane in which Bleriot had just flown the Channel. Two years later, the infant was lifted aloft - albeit only a few feet - beneath a Cody-type kite in his local park. Several encounters with flying machines in the pre-war years fired a youthful ambition to become a pilot, but notuntil the end of the First World War did Penrose enjoy his first flight, in a war-surplus Avro 504K in which the pioneer aviator Alan Cobham was giving joyrides from a field at Reading. Following a four-year aeronautical course at the Northampton Engineering College of London University, Penrose joined Westland Aircraft at Yeovil, Somerset, in September 1926. By the New Year he was overseeing the construction of the Wigeon III light monoplane, and was the first to fly in it as a passenger after its maiden flight. Obtaining a commission in the Reserve of Air Force Officers (RAFO) in 1927, Penrose learnt to fly in a Bristol Type 73 at the Bristol Flying School, soloing after six hours dual and moving on to a Jupiter-engined advance trainer variant of the First World War Bristol Fighter.
He returned to Westland gazetted as Pilot Officer RAFO, obtained his private pilot's A-Licence the same year and made his first flights for Westland in the Wigeon. In March 1928 he was authorised to fly a number of the company's new machines - much to his surprise, as he had fewer than 100 hours' total piloting experience. He was also acting as a test-flight observer, and later that year was made manager of Westland's new civil aircraft department, overseeing the development of the W.IV and Wessex trimotors. In October he qualified for his commercial pilot's B-Licence. In 1930 Penrose began flying the Wapiti general-purpose military two- seater and the following year he was entrusted with taking a Variant to South America and demonstrating it in both landplane and seaplane forms. Shortly after his return, in May 1931, Captain Louis Paget, Westland's pilot in charge, suffered serious injuries in a crash, and Penrose was asked to fulfil his duties - with no increase in wages. After all, he later recalled: "It just seemed wonderful that Westland was letting me have extensive free flying which I would otherwise have been unable to afford." With the news that Paget was permanently crippled, Penrose was appointed chief test pilot. Amid his busy professional life, Penrose also found time to build and fly his self-designed sailplane, Pegasus, in 1935.
With the outbreak of the Second World War, production testing intensified and the Lysander, with its exceptional short-field capabilities, became renowned for its role in flying Special Operations Executive agents in and out of French fields in the dead of night. The new Whirlwind twin- engine fighter, first flown by Penrose in October 1938, proved a disappointment, and the extraordinary tandem-wing version of the Lysander, which he looped on its maiden flight in July 1944, was a one-off experiment. Penrose also carried out the production tests of other manufacturers' aircraft build under licence by his company; Spitfires, Seafires, Barracudas and Lend-Lease Curtiss Mohawk and Tomahawk fighters allocated to Westland for assembly and test-flying. The company's last wartime design, the Welkin high-altitude fighter, proved a troublesome mount for Penrose and his fellow pilots. By far the most notorious aeroplane flown by Penrose, however, was the turbo-prop powered Wyvern naval fighter, which suffered from being a new air frame married to new and under-developed engines. First flown in December 1946, this big single-seater underwent protracted development during which three test pilots lost their lives. Only quick and instinctive reactions kept Penrose from being numbered among the victims when the Wyvern he was returning to Yeovil suffered a failed aileron linkage and turned over on its back. After six years of Wyvern flying, Penrose was appointed Sales Manager of Westland Aircraft Ltd, responsible for the Westland, Bristol and Saunders-Roe helicopter group. By then he had amassed some 5,000 hours on no fewer than 250 different types of aircraft ranging from rotorcraft to modern jets.
Penrose was made a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1936 and in 1993, when his tally had risen to 5,500 hours on 309 types, he was presented with Honorary Fellowship of the US Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wg Cdr Roland Prosper 'Bee' Beamont 1920-2001

Roland "Bee" Beamont was born in Chichester, Sussex, on August 10 1920. In 1927 he experienced his first flight, in an Avro 504, and sowed the seed of a lifetime of aviation interest. Beamont was educated at Eastbourne College. In 1942 Beamont married Shirley Adams, who died in 1945 while he was still a PoW. In 1946 he married Patricia née Raworth, who died in 1999. There was a daughter of his first marriage and two of his second.

His entry into the RAF was delayed because he failed his Schools Certificate exam, but after a sixmonth crammer course he re-sat the exam. He posted his application for a shortservice commision the same day! Beamont was to report for flying training to No 13 Elementary Training School at White Waltham on January 2 1939. After posting at No 13 Advanced Training School at Dream and No 11 Group Fighter Pool Operational Conversion at St Athan, he was posted to 87 Sqn, part of the British Expeditionary Force in France. He joined his squadron on November 16 at Lille, France.

On May 1940, he scored his first kill, a Do17. He had a number of further combats before the fall of France, whereupon 87 Sqn was withdrawn to England on May 20.After the Battle of Britain had been fought and won, 87 Sqn took on the nightfighter role with Hurricanes. He was attached to Hawkers at Langley in December 1941 as a production and experimental test pilot, where he tested Hurricanes and the new Typhoon. By July 1942 he was back in the frontline with 609 Sqn, flying Typhoons. In November 1942 he was promoted to Squadron Commander of 609 Sqn.

In May 1943 Beamont returned to Hawker for experimental duties on Typhoons and Tempests. His first flight in a Tempest was on the Mk. I prototype, HM599, on June 2 1943. He shared with Bill Humble the final development of the Tempest V. In 1944 Beamont (now Acting Wing Commander) was charged to form the first Tempest Wing, No 150, in time for the D-Day. Two days after D-Day Beamont's Wing encountered Bf109s over the beaches and shot down three of them without loss. 150 Wing were also downing V1s over Kent and by August the unit had accounted 638, of which 32 had fallen to Beamont himself. On October 2 he shot down his ninth and final enemy aircraft, a Focke Wulf Fw190 near Nijmegen. On October 12 1944 he was shot down by Flak 8 miles Southeast of Bocholt whilst attacking a heavily defended troop train (flying Tempest JF-L EJ710). He was captured and imprisoned at Stalag III at Luckenwald near Potsdam. He spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war (POW) and was eventually released by the Russians in September 1945 who liberated the campin May 1945.
Back in the Great Britian he served at the Central Flying Establishment at Tangmere, and then, as a Wing Commander Flying No 2 Wing at Chilbolton flying Tempests. In November he commanded the Air Fighting Development Unit at West Raynham, and in January 1946 he left the RAF.In 1947 Beamont joined the English Electric Company as Chief Test Pilot. He managed all the prototype tests in the Canberra and the P1/Lightning test programmes, during which he became the first pilot to fly a British aircraft at twice the speed of sound. He was closely associated with, and flew, the ill-fated TSR2 until its political end. From 1970 to 1979, as Director of Flight Operations, he was in charge of Tornado flight testing for British Aerospace and Panavia.
During World War II Roland Beamont was mentioned in despatches (Battle of Britain) and awarded the DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar and the DFC (USA). Post-war, for his test flying he received the OBE and the CBE and was made Honorary Fellow of the American Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a Deputy Lieutenant Lancashire (1977-81).

Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava VM Indian AF (Ret) 1928-2014

Kapil Bhargava was born in 1928. He graduated in 1947 with a BSc in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. He was commissioned in the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 1950, which was to be the beginning of a 26year career with the IAF.

Initially serving as a fighter pilot, he trained as a Pilot Attack Instructor at RAF Leconfield in 1953 and then joined the Empire Test Pilot School (ETPS) for Test Pilot training in 1956. The following year he spent some time as a Test Pilot with Short Bros (Belfast) and Hunting Percival (Luton) in the UK. On return to India, he worked for three years at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) becoming its Chief Test Pilot for a while. He returned to the UK to test fly the Avro 748 with AV Roe and Co, followed by flight testing the license built Avro 748 in India, making its maiden flight.

In 1963, he was deputed by the IAF to the Egyptian Aircraft Factory at Helwan, south of Cairo, Egypt. This was to undertake Flight Testing of the Hispano Aviación HA-300, as Egypt did not have any Test Pilots of its own at that time. The aircraft was an ultra light single seat delta shaped fighter, with perhaps world’s thinnest duralumin wing (3% thickness/chord ratio). It had a separate tail plane. Its design team was led by the legendary German aircraft constructor Willy Messerschmitt famous for Me-190 and Me-262 etc. Kapil made the maiden flight of the HA-300 on 7th March 1964. The aircraft was taken to Mach 1.13 and all flying on it completed without a single safety problem. He also trained two Egyptian Air Force officers as experimental test pilots. The Egyptians aborted the project in 1969.

In 1970, Kapil was Officer Commanding the Aircraft & Armament Testing Unit and became the 1st Commandant of the Indian Air Force’s Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), India’s own mini-Edwards AFB or Boscombe Down.

He retired from the Indian Air Force in 1976 and has worked in various Management positions within the Aerospace Industry. Currently he is a freelance writer on Professional Subjects.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Erhard Godert