Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Geoffrey Haig Pike 1916-1981

Geoffrey Haig Pike was apprenticed to deHavillands in 1934 and became an experimental test pilot in 1939. He joined the RAF Reserve in 1936 and the Volunteer Reserve in 1938. He was a test pilot with D.H. Engine Company from 1940-1942 and a test pilot with D.H Aircraft from 1942 until 1960. He transferred to the Hatfield divison in 1953.

He made the maiden flights of the D.H. Dove and D.H Heron.

Mgen Eldon W.Joersz USAF 1944-

Major General Eldon W. Joersz entered the Air Force in October 1966 as a graduate of the North Dakota State University Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He has commanded a strategic reconnaissance squadron at Beale Air Force Base and two Air Force wings; a bombardment wing at K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base, and a composite fighter/tanker wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. He is a command pilot with more than 4,500 flying hours, which includes more than 450 hours of F-105D combat time in Vietnam and Laos. In addition, he has been qualified in the SR-71, B-52, K-135, KC-10 and F-15E aircraft. In June 1976 he set the world's absolute speed record of 2,193 miles per hour in the SR-71.

Geoff Worrall 1922-

Javelin Mk 7 on test flight,4th March 1959
Conducting flight refuelling tests in Javelin Mk IX XH965,with Mk VIII nozzle on 2th May 1960. The Valiant is being flown by John Cochrane, Vickers Test Pilot
Geoff sitting in Javelin Mk9 :XH759. This was flight No11 on the 1st September 1960 to conduct experimental pitch stabiliser tests
Geoff Worrall flying a Gloster Javelin @1950's
L-R, Russell Adams(FROS Photographer), Freddie Heather (Flight Test Foreman) and Geoff Worrall standing in front of the Meteor F.9 Prototype in 1951
Geoff Worral flying Gloster Gladiator in 1959

Geoff Worrall joined the RAF and trained at RAF Henlow as Group II aircraft Electrician and RAF Hereford as Group I Aircraft Electrician between 1941 and 1943. He serviced Hurricanes Typhoon I and Lysanders and at RAF Glenegdale serviced Beaufighter and Beauforts and other visiting aircraft. In 1943 he was remustered for aircrew training and went to Grading school at RAF Sealand on Tiger Moths. He went to South Africa in 1944 for Pilot training. In 1945 he joined 81 Squadron in India for Operation Zipper with SEAC and later transferred to 60 Squadron on the Disbandment of 81 Squadron flying P47 in the same role. Between 1946 and 1948 60 squadron converted to Spitfire XIV and XVIII at Kuala Lumpar Malaya and he was based at RAF Tengah in Singapore. He then returned to the UK and was demobilised. He joined 616 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force at RAF Finningley flying Meteor MK3 4 and 7s.
In 1948 he joined Gloster testing service and production Meteors . 1950-1954 he was involved in conversion training and the delivery of Meteors to the Middle East
. He was also promoted to Chief Production Test Pilot in 1954. Between 1954 and 1960 he was involved in production and experimental flying of GA5, Javelin testing MKs 1 - 9, Jet provost development.Hunter deliveries, communications flying Rapide Proctor Auster and Anson. In 1960 he was appointed Chief Test Pilot. 1961-196 he was Chief Test pilot Whitworth Gloster Aircraft on merge within Hawker Siddeley Group. 1967-1976 he was involved in the Concorde project regarding Sales Engineering, airline liaison, flight systems, cockpit design and ergonomics. In 1980 until 1984 he joined the Joint Production Directorate at BAC Filton until his retirement in 1984.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Mike Webber 1929-

Mike posing beside a Jet Provost
Mike Webber flying the Sabre at Filton for development of the Bristol Orpheus 12 engine

Mike Webber joined the Air Training Corps while at school, and completed a gliding course at Exeter airfield. All solo in those days, progressing from ground slides, low hops a few feet off the ground, to high hops maybe 100 or 150 ft up. He then joined London University Air Squadron while at university, where he got a degree in engineering. He then did his National Service,however his UAS experience allowed him to continue flying training, which was not usual for National Service men. He ended up as a fighter pilot on 74 Squadron, flying Meteor 8s.

On completing national Service he got a job as a flight test observer at Bristol. He joined the local R.Aux.A.F. squadron (501), and finally was invited to join the Bristol Aeroplane Co., mainly on the Britannia development programme. After a couple of years he transferred to Bristol Siddeley Engines, also at Filton. It was here he did the majority of his test flying.

In all he flew about 45 different types. The ones that hold fondest memories for him were: that first ATC glider, the Dagline, Tiger Moth, Harvard, Meteor 8. Vampire, Folland Gnat fighter (single seater). Canberra with Olympus engines, Buccaneer, Fiat G91, HS125, Scout helicopter, Sea King, Vulcan, Javelin. Argosy and BAC111.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Major James Cordes 1895-1980

Handley Page Hampden

Major Cordes was born on 6th July, 1895 at Shaldon,Devonshire.He served in WW1 and saw service as a Company Commander in th 2nd Battalion Gloucester Regiment. He wounded at Salonica and whilst in hospital in Malta developed an interest in flying. He was attached to the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 and undertook his flying course in Egypt where he flew Maurice Farman Shorthorns. He returned to Englad in 1917 to train on the Bristol F2B and then joined 48Sqn in France where he shot down 2 enemy aircraft and one other which was not confirmed.
After the war he continued flying.He joined the RAF in 1921 and took an instructor's course at the Central Flying School. He served until 1928 when he joined Handly Page as a Test Pilot. His first testing involved him with the Hyderabad. In 1930 Major Cordes took over the Handley Page 42 test programme,a famous airliner which set the standards right up to the outbreak of WW2. At the same time he beacme involved with the Heyford,the RAF's last large biplane.He made the maiden flight of the Heyford in 1930 and demonstarted the aircraft several times at the air pageants at Hendon.
Cordes became Chief Test Pilot of Handley Page in 1933,he developed the Harrow (First flight 1933) and the Hampden (First flight 1936). The pinnacle of his career must be the development of the Halifax, which he made the First flight of in 1939.The Halifax along with the Lancaster became the mainstay of Bomber Command from 1942 until the end of the war. He rtired from active test flyoing in 1945.

Leonard Roy Moxam OBE 1931-

Roy Moxam sitting in Westland Wasp
Roy Moxam lying the Westland 30
Army development Lynx used for speed record flights 10/11th June 1972
Naval development Lynx
Crew of Lynx first flight. L-R Gerry Smallbridge C.F.T.E, Ron Gellatly C.T.P. and Roy Moxam D.C.T.P.
First flight of Westland Lynx
Westland Wessex
Leonard Roy Moxam was born in 1931 and was educated at Elmhurst grammar school in Somerset. He joined the RAF in 1950.

In 1952 Roy joined No2(AC)Sqn flying Meteor Mk9 aircraft until 1954 when for a year he tool the QFI course at South Cerney and Little Rissington flying Provosts and Vampires. In 1959 he went to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough where he attended No18 course(fixed wing) at the Empire Test Pilots School and graduated as a Test Pilot. The same year he converted to helicopters and from 1960-1962 moved to the Airplane and Armament Experimental Establisment at Boscombe Down where he was a Test Pilot with D Sqn.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Robert O. Rahn 1920-1998

Cover flown on 1st flight of A4D Skyhawk,signed by 1st flight pilot,Bob Rahn

Born in Harvey, Illinois, on December 29, 1920, Bob attended the University of Cincinnati, intending to earn a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. While there, he learned to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program and, in early 1941, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps and entered flight training. After graduating, he became a member of the first United States fighter group to deploy to England, where he flew the Spitfire with the 309 Fighter Squadron.

After completing his overseas tour, Rahn returned to the U.S. and wrangled an assignment to Wright Field to attend the United States Air Force Test Pilots School. With World War II all but over, in August 1945 Bob accepted employment as a test pilot at Douglas Aircraft Company, where he subsequently made first flights in 18 different aircraft between 1946 and 1956. Around the Douglas Aircraft Company flight test department, Bob had the reputation as being "a cool and thorough pilot." There were several instances in the flight test programs of the AD Skyraider, the F4D Skyray, and the A4D Skyhawk where his unflappable demeanor during test flight emergencies literally saved the programs. Bob also participated in the F3D Skyknight and F5D Skylancer flight test programs.

In 1957 he joined the Rockwell Company as an Apollo Space Capsule simulator research pilot. Rahn retired from the aircraft industry in 1984 to devote much of his time to skiing and flying his Navion aircraft in speed enhancement and point to point flight competition with other Navion owners.

Rahn accumulated many honors in his flying career. He was inducted into the Navy Test Pilots Hall of Honor, set a world speed record in the Douglas F4D Skyray, served as a founding member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, was a charter member of the Aviation Hall of Fame, and an original member of the Skyhawk Association.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Gabe Robb (Jock) Bryce OBE 1921 -2014

Crew of the 1st VC-10 flight, Bill Cairns,Jock Bryce and Brian Trubshaw
Roll out of the prototype BAC 1-11
Maiden flight of the Vickers VC-10, G-ARTA
Maiden flight of the Tay powered Viscount
Maiden flight of the Vickers Viscount
Nene powered Vickers Viking, the first Commercial Jet Aircraft

Gabe Bryce was born in 1921 in Glasgow and joined the RAF as a Direct Entry Sergeant  in 1939 and trained to fly at Prestwick. In 1940 he was posted to Special Duty Flight 10 Group flying Blenheims from Leuchars, Wick and Christchurch. In 1942 he was posted to 172 Chivenor flying Wellingtons hunting U-boats over the Atlantic.
He was then commissioned and posted to 45 Group on the North Atlantic Ferry Force. In 1945 he was posted to the Douglas Conversion unit and then went with 232 Squadron for duty in South East Asia Command to initiate long-range transport capability for Tiger Force. In 1946 he returned to the UK and was posted to the King's Flight RAF Benson flying the Viking. Later that year he was demobilised from the RAF.

In 1947 he joined Vickers Armstrong Aircraft at Brooklands and Wisley as a test pilot under Mutt Summers and became Chief Test Pilot upon the retirement of Summers. During his flying career with Vickers, Jock was either Captain or Co-pilot for the first flight of eleven prototypes, the Varsity, the jet powered Nene Viking, the Viscounts 630, 700 and 800, the jet powered Tay Viscount, the Valiant, Pathfinder Valiant B2, Vanguard, VC10 and BAC One-Eleven.
The prototype Valiant was lost as a result of a severe fuel fire in the wing trailing edge and the crew had to bail out. The three observers in the rear did not have ejection seats and struggled to leave the aircraft, however all survived. Jock's co-pilot, from the RAF, ejected first, however he struck the fin and was killed. Jock did eject successfully and Martin Baker record this event as only their eleventh successful ejection. Jock's experience was used by Sir James Martin to improve the performance of subsequent seats.
It is now (July 2012) 50 years since Jock flew the prototype VC10 out of the very short (4000ft) runway at Brooklands over to the BAC test airfield at Wisley.
When Jock retired from flying in 1965 he was appointed Sales Director (Operations) at Weybridge and then he completed his career until retirement in 1975 as the Vice President (Corporate Aircraft Sales) at the Washington DC office of British Aircraft Corporation. During this period the BAC One-Eleven was adopted as a corporate transport by several large US Corporations, such as Tenneco and Ford Motor Company.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Edgar Wilkner Percival 1897-1984

A brilliant aircraft designed and pilot, Edgar Percival was born in Albury, New South Wales in 1898. Following service with the Royal Flying Corp during World War 1, Percival operated his own charter company in Australia before returning to England where he was appointed as an Air Ministry test pilot.
His interest in aircraft design led him to form his own aircraft company at Gravesend, Kent in 1934. Percival’s aircraft were noted for their graceful lines and outstanding performance. Charles Kingsford Smith flew a Percival Gull Four named ‘Miss Southern Cross’ from England to Australia in the record breaking time of 7 days 4 hours and 44 minutes. The New Zealand aviatrix, Jean Batten, also used the Percival Gull to fly from England to Australia in October 1936.
The Proctor was the military communications version of the Gull. It was designed to carry four people in comfort and was powered by a 200 hp Gipsy Six engine.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Fred J. Drinkwater 1926-2012

NASA test pilot Fred Drinkwater flew a specially equipped Convair CV-990 aircraft from Moffett Field, California, to Edwards Air Force Base, California, November 1, 1972, to refine steep and final aircraft approaches to possibly be used for a space shuttle vehicle to land on a hard surface runway. The Convair aircraft had pilot flight instruments that would be similar to those in the space shuttle Enterprise being manufactured by Rockwell International, the company that had won the competitive U.S. Government bid to build the space shuttle in Palmdale, California.

Fred Drinkwater was a Marine Corps aviator and a pioneer of experimental aviation. He began his flight career as a Corsair pilot in Korea, where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Upon returning home, he took a position as a test pilot at NASA Ames Research Center. He continued as a pilot in the Marine Corps Reserves, commanding a squadron of A-4s at Alameda NAS. He retired from the Marines in 1986 as a full colonel, and from Ames in 1988 as Chief, NASA Ames Research Aircraft Operations.

During his career at Ames Fred worked on a wide variety of flight programs. He developed flying techniques for the VTOL jet X-14, and worked with fellow Navy pilot Neil Armstrong developing techniques for landing the LEM on the moon. He was in the vanguard of developing landing systems for extreme low L/D flight, precursor to the space shuttle landing scheme; he worked on many V/STOL aircraft and rotorcraft, including the Tiltrotor, precursor to the Marine V-22 Osprey. Other aeronautics projects included numerous flight simulations, aviation safety, accident recreation, etc. Fred also flew NASA airborne sciences projects in high-altitude astronomy, advanced radars, sea ice dynamics, arctic mammal surveys, hurricane formation, and many others.

On 12 August 1959, Fred Drinkwater became the first NASA test pilot to complete the full conversion of a tiltrotor to airplane mode flying the Bell XV-3. Fred Drinkwater tested many aircraft, including the XV-3 (1957), the JF-104A Starfighter, the Skylancer F-5, the VZ-9AV Avrocar and the Ryan VZ-3RY