Saturday, June 17, 2006

John Oliver Lancaster DFC 1919-2019

Joe Lancaster in Meteor Mk4 circa 1950
Saunders Roe SR/A1
Armstrong Whitworth AW-52 'Flying Wing' which Jo Lancaster ejected from, becoming the first 'live' ejectee

J.O.Lancaster (right) talking to Martin Baker Test Pilot Benny Lynch.

In 1935 he joined Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Ltd on an engineering apprenticeship. 1937 saw him join the RAF Volunteer service. He underwent pilot training on Tiger Moths. Apparently he was kicked out in 1938 for low aerobatics. Following the outbreak of war and after brief encounters with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and Royal Navy he was accepted back by the RAF.

In 1940 he underwent repeat training on Tiger Moths and in 1941 was posted to 20 OTU at Lossiemouth for training on Wellington 1c. He joined 40 Squadron at Alconbury completing 31 operations including Berlin, Stettin and a formation daylight raid on Brest. He was posted to 22 OTU for instructing durties and in 1942 went on OTU Instructor's Course at Central Flying School Upavon. He participated in the First 1000 Bomber Raid. Then he was posted to newly established 28 OTU at Wymeswold. He was then posted to 12 Squadron at Wickenbury as they were converting to Lancasters. In 1943 he completed his second tour bringing a total to 54 Operations. He was then posted to A&AEE at Boscombe Down for duties in Armament Testing Squadron flying wide variety of aircraft types.
In 1945 he completed 3 Course Empiere Test Pilots' Shool and then in 1946 he was seconded to Boulton-Paul Aircraft Ltd and then later demobilised from the RAF.In 1946 he joined Saunders-Rowe at Cowes flying as deputy to Chief Test Pilot Geoffry Tyson. He flew the Supermarine Walrus and Sea Otter, Short Sunderland and Auster 6 Floatplane and undertook development test flying on SR A/1 jet fighter flying boat.In 1949 he rejoined Armstrong-Whitworth as test pilot under Chief Test Pilot Eric Franklin and participated in test programmes covering Lancaster, Lincoln and York, Meteor T4, T7 and F8 and Night Fighter Mks11 to 14 and TT20, Sea Hawk, Hunter F2, F5, F6 & T7, Shackleton, Valetta, AW52G tailess experimental glider and AW52 flying-wing, Gloster Javelin and Argosy.
On May 30th 1949 whilst flying the AW52 he became the first pilot to eject 'in anger' from a British aircraft using the Martin-Baker ejection seat. In 1965 he was Aviation Manager for an air Survey Company Meridian Airmaps and he retired in 1984.