Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Wg Cdr Walter F. Gibb D.S.O, D.F.C 1919 - 2006

Wing Commander (ret) Walter F.Gibb won the D.S.O. and D.F.C. for his night fighter work during WWII. After the war, he joined Bristol Aircraft as a test pilot. He was co-pilot on the maiden flight of the Bristol Brabazon. In August 1952, he flew the maiden flight of the Olympus engined Canberra. He had flown over 75 types of aircraft.
Walter Gibb and his observer, FM Piper, took off from Filton , near Bristol, on May 4 , 1953 in an English Electric Canberra bomber powered by two Bristol Olympus engines. The Canberra reached an altitude of 63,668 ft, more than 4,000 ft higher than the previous record. Cover carried on the flight, signed by Wing Cdr. Gibb. "2 of 7 flown" note on reverse

Wing Commander Walter Gibb was twice decorated for gallantry as a night fighter pilot before becoming a test pilot with the Bristol Aeroplane Company, when he flew the Brabazon and Britannia airliners; during the early 1950s he flew a modified Canberra bomber, twice breaking the altitude record for an aeroplane.
Gibb and his observer, FM Piper, took off from Filton, near Bristol, on May 4, 1953 in an English Electric Canberra bomber powered by two Bristol Olympus engines. Climbing to the west, the Canberra reached an altitude of 63,668 ft, more than 4,000 ft higher than the previous record.
Flying the same Canberra, fitted with more powerful Olympus engines, Gibb made an attempt to break his record on August 29, 1955. Again taking off from Filton, he climbed over the Bristol Channel towards Ireland and levelled off at 50,000 ft in order to burn off fuel to lighten the aircraft before continuing his ascent.
He turned east and finally reached a new record altitude of 65,876 ft (nearly 12.5 miles high) over Bristol. Gibb, who was flying solo, observed: "The last 500 ft took an awfully long time. It was the most difficult flying I have ever experienced."
The son of a Scottish mining engineer, Walter Frame Gibb was born near Port Talbot on March 26, 1919. After completing his education at Clifton College, he joined the aero-engine division of the Bristol Aeroplane Company as an apprentice in 1937.
In May 1940 he joined the RAF and trained as a pilot. He was identified as above average and selected to be a flying instructor despite his limited experience. After two years training students to fly twin-engine aircraft he joined No 264 Squadron flying Mosquitoes on long-range fighter sorties over the Bay of Biscay, giving support to the anti-submarine aircraft patrolling the area. On March 22, 1943 he shared in the destruction of a Junkers 88 bomber.
In low-level attacks against targets in northern France, Gibb damaged seven locomotives, and, during a later sortie, the formation he was leading destroyed two German fighters. In July he was awarded the DFC for his "skilful leadership, great courage and tenacity".
In July that year he was appointed as a flight commander with No 605 Squadron, and on September 14 led six Mosquitoes to provide support for eight Lancasters of No 617 (Dam Buster) Squadron which was due to make a daring low-level raid on the Dortmund-Ems Canal. But Gibb, flying ahead of the formation, reported very poor weather; the bombers turned back, although not before one of the veterans of the Dams Raid was lost.
The following night a further attempt was made. Gibb and his Mosquitoes went ahead and attacked the flak and searchlight positions near the canal. As the Lancasters prepared to bomb, three of the big bombers were shot down by anti-aircraft fire. When Gibb returned to base he learned that five of the eight, which included other survivors from the Dams Raid, had been lost.
Gibb went for a rest tour to the test squadron of the Central Flying School, where he flew many aircraft types and was assessed as an exceptional pilot. In September 1944 he was promoted to wing commander and given command of No 239 Squadron.
In a six-week period during February and March 1945 he was credited with shooting down five enemy aircraft during long-range night intruder sorties over Germany and France; and in May he was awarded the DSO. He left the RAF nine months later and returned to Bristols as a test pilot, becoming chief test pilot in 1955.
During the war the Bristol Company had started to design a "super-bomber" with a range of 5,000 miles. The idea was abandoned, but it led to the huge airliner, the Brabazon, with its eight engines, twin-coupled and buried in the wings.
On the morning of September 4, 1949 more than 10,000 people gathered to watch the chief test pilot, Bill Pegg, and his co-pilot Gibb complete the taxi tests before taking off on the aircraft's maiden flight. As the crowds on the ground cheered, the story was transmitted around the globe in what was one of the first uses of live outside broadcasting after the war.
In an era devoid of good news, such was the value of this aircraft that the Queen was introduced to the crew and all the newspapers ran stories about the event. Some 250 reporters and photographers, television and newsreel staff were on hand, more than had ever before assembled in Bristol for a single event.
Apart from Pegg, Gibb was the only other pilot to fly the Brabazon. On his first flight in command (the aircraft's thirteenth) the airliner suffered a hydraulic failure, and Gibb was forced to land the aircraft without the flaps. Eventually the elegant Brabazon was scrapped as being uneconomical.
Gibb carried out a great deal of the test flying of the turbo-prop Britannia. On one flight he was checking the stalling characteristics of the aircraft. As he selected the flaps up, the big airliner rolled on to its back (unknown to Gibb, one of the flaps had failed to retract).
After losing many thousands of feet, he managed to regain control. Asked later what he had done, he replied: "I undid the last action I had made." By putting the flaps back down, he had restored the balance of the aircraft.
In March 1955 Gibb took a Britannia to Johannesburg, with only one refuelling stop at Khartoum, arriving in just under 19 hours, some two hours quicker than the Comet jet airliner. This impressive performance was headline news in the following day's issue of The Daily Telegraph.
Over the next few years Gibb demonstrated the airliner on sales tours to many airlines, assisted in the training of their pilots and conducted many route-proving flights. In 1960 he retired from test flying to become head of service and technical support with the British Aircraft Corporation, which had absorbed Bristols. He held the post until 1978, when he became managing director, and later chairman, of British Aerospace Australia.
Gibb was modest about his many achievements. When asked in later life what had given him the greatest pleasure, he identified working as an apprentice on the Pegasus engine that powered the Wellesley aircraft that created a world long-distance record in November 1938.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Don Knight 1931-

Don Knight was born in 1931 and educated at Daniel Stewart’s College, Edinburgh. He trained as a pilot during National Service 1949-51, qualifiying with distinction and completing operational conversion on the Meteor 4 and 7. Thereafter he flew with No 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron RauxAF, briefly on the Spitfire 22 and then the Vampire 5.

He joined English Electric (later BAC) at Samlesbury as a production test pilot in June 1953, transferring to experimental and development work at Warton in 1956. He became Deputy Chief Test Pilot in January 1964. Sady, he was forced to retire from active test flying for medical reasons mid 1967.

His career mainly comprised development flying on all marks of Canberra and Lightning aircraft, the TSR 2 later pre flight stage and initial flight programme and early design study work for the Jaguar. His responsibilities included:
Canberra Mk8 developments and autopilot systems clearance for the Indian Air Force, Canberra PR9 aerodynamic and systems development work, Lightning aerodynamic, systems and weapon clearance programmes with particular responsibilities Associated with the new generation OR946 flight control and instrumentation system, Autopilot clearance and the stalling and spinning programme, early involvement in the Lightning programme for Saudi Arabia and delivery of the first aircraft to Riyadh.

Apart from carrying out 2 of the 25 TSR2 flights prior to programme cancellation, he was involveed with design stage flight simulation at Warton, the multi axis flight and systems simulator at Weybridge and as the evaluation pilot in a flight research programme with Cornell University’s variable stability T-33 aircraft which had TSR 2 relevance.

In 1967 began a career in sales and marketing, becoming Divisional Marketing Director with contracts concluded in South America, Africa and the Far East. From 1986 to 1990 was Resident Director for British Aerospace in Indonesia.

Eclipse Aviation Test Pilots

Friday, May 12, 2006

Lee H.Person 1932-2012

Former NASA test pilot Lee Person testing a synthetic vision system at NASA's Langley Research Center in 1989

Lee Person was born in Baton Rouge, La., in 1932. He received a commission in the U. S. Marine Corps and served as a fighter pilot and tactics flight instructor until he was released from active duty in 1958. Person earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University and joined NASA’s Langley Research Center in 1962, where he was the author and/or co-author of 36 technical publications on results of his research efforts.
Person was also a part of NASA's historic moon landing research. He tested a number of one-man lunar flying devices and worked on orbital missions and space station rendezvous simulations. Chief among his space research tasks was Gemini – Lunar Excursion Module docking simulations, flying lunar landing simulations and participation in the development of the Rendezvous and Docking Simulator at Langley.

Person worked with all of the Apollo astronauts before they went to the moon. They would come to NASA Langley to train at what was then the Lunar Landing Research Facility. Person and a team of Langley engineers would talk to them, watch them fly and get their comments so they could improve the design of the lunar lander.

Person also did pioneering work in the use of in-flight thrust vectoring in close air combat for military fighters and in advancing modern “glass cockpit” design for aircraft. He flew more than 100 different types of aircraft and rotorcraft during more than 10,000 flight hours. 

Person was inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame in 2011 for his extensive roles in improving aviation safety and advancing aeronautics research.In the 1980s and '90s, with Person as chief test pilot, NASA Langley spent six years developing radar to combat potentially deadly wind shear. He and fellow pilot Dick Yenni, now retired and living in Williamsburg, flew a specially equipped jet into hazardous weather to test the technology. Their work led directly to the hardware and procedures used by today's transport and general aviation pilots to avoid dangerous and potentially fatal encounters with wind shear.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Donald Riley Segner 1925-2019

Lockheed XH51-A Compound Rotary wing/fixed wing aircraft

Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne
Donald R.Segner has over 55 years of aviation and transportation related experience in diversified positions involving operational,flight testing,aircraft design and development and senior managerial responsibilities.
He entered military service in 1943,and he was commissioned in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Naval Aviator in 1946. He served in combat in Korea with VMF-311 flying F9F-2 Panther. In 1956 he became a military test pilotat the NATC at Patuxent River. He was the first Naval Aviator to fly and convert a VTOL aircraft, the tilt wing VZ-2. He performed the first military flights on the HSS-2 and numerous other 1st flights.
After entering private industry in 1962,he served as Chief Test Pilot,Manager of Advance Design and Program Manager for Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, where he flew a total of 7 first flights. Amongst these were the XH51-A, AH56-A and the CL757.
In April 1981,he was appointed by President Reagan to the Federal Aviation Administration(FAA)as an Associate Administrator. With the advent of the Air Traffic Controller's strike in September 1981,he was given the additional responsibilities to develop,direct and control the process of allocating airspace system use by all airlines and airspace system users. Following the destruction of Korean Airline Flight 007 in 1983,he was further assigned to the White House to head the investigation of the KAL 007 shoot down and to act as Chief Delegate for the U.S.A. to the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO)on this matter. Later he was assigned as the United States, Chief of Delegation, by the Secretary of State, to negotiate an agreement, among the U.S.A.,USSR and Japanese governments, to improve and implement future air travel safety along the North Pacific air routes.
Mr Segner has accumulated over 7,000 flight hours in over 150 types and models of aircraft He is a past president of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. He has received numerous awards recognizing his contributions to the aviation community,including the AIAA's Octave Chanute Award,the SETP's Kincheloe Award,FAA Administrator's Award,the FAA Superior Achievement Gold Medal, and the Distinguished Flying Cross for valor in combat.Mr Segner is a Fellow in the Society of Experimental TestPilots.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Roy Martin 1946-

Northrop F-5 SSBD
Northrop X-47A UAV

Roy Martin was Chief Test Pilot at Northrop Grumman Air Combat Systems Division. He has over 9600 flight hours and more than 30 years experience flying over 60 aircraft types including the F-4 and F-5 fighters, C-141 transport, E-3A AWACS, Sabreliner, Lear Jet, and Gulfstream G-2 aircraft.

Mr. Martin was formerly a regular officer in the US Air Force, where he flew over 200 combat missions in Southeast Asia in the F-4 aircraft. Following combat duty, he served as an F-5 instructor training foreign military pilots.

In 1976 he graduated from the US Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base as a Distinguished Graduate. Mr. Martin served as a military test pilot for six years at Edwards AFB, working on various projects including E-3A AWACS flight tests, F-5 spin tests, Air Launch Cruise Missile development tests, Space Shuttle simulator handling qualities evaluations, HAVE IDEA special projects, and as an instructor test pilot at the USAF Test Pilot School.

From 1982 to 1998, Mr. Martin was an active participant in the US Air Force Reserves. He performed duty as a C-141 transport pilot and as Reserve T-38 Instructor Pilot and Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the Commandant of the USAF Test Pilot School. He retired from the USAF Reserves in 1998 with the rank of Colonel.

In 1982, Mr. Martin joined Northrop as an Engineering Test Pilot. He has participated in F-5, F-20, QF-86, and TSSAM flight test projects and was backup test pilot for the YF-23. He continued as the project test pilot and instructor pilot for numerous F-5 projects including F-5E avionics update programs and Quiet Supersonic.