Sunday, September 30, 2007

Nils Meister

Dave Eagles,Nils Meister and Tim Ferguson standing in front of Panavia MRCA Aircraft P-02
Flown cover from the maiden flight of Panavia MRCA P-01, signed by Paul Millet and Nils Meister, the first flight crew.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mike Cooper Slipper DFC 1921-2004

Thomas Paul Michael Cooper-Slipper was born in 1921 at Kinver, Staffordshire. Educated at King Edward VI School, Stourbridge, he joined the RAF on a short-service commission straight from school, in 1938. In July 1939 he went to 74 Squadron, which was still flying the biplane Gladiator, but shortly after war began he was sent to 11 Group Pool to convert to Hurricanes.

In late December he joined 605 Squadron, equipped with Hurricanes. On May 10, 1940, the Blitzkrieg burst on the Western Front and very soon the British Expeditionary Force was recoiling towards the Channel Coast. On May 21 the squadron was rushed from its base at Wick, in the far north of Scotland, to Hawkinge in Kent, to provide air cover for the BEF’s retreat to Dunkirk.

On the squadron’s first patrol, at dawn on the following day, Cooper-Slipper and another pilot of his flight attacked and shot down a Heinkel He111 bomber. Three days later he shot down a Ju87 Stuka and on the day after that, a Ju88.

Such bald statistics give little idea of the immense strain on the thinly-stretched RAF squadrons, sent to do battle over France. These aerial combats, against tremendous odds, fought high above the troops on the ground who had little idea of the RAF’s costly exertions on their behalf, resulted in heavy casualties for No 605.

Within a week the squadron had lost half its pilots and was sent north to Drem, on the Firth of Forth, supposedly to rest. There, on August 15, the heaviest Luftwaffe assault of the Battle of Britain, it was engaged in repelling attacks against Tyneside, launched from German air bases in Denmark and Norway.

On September 7 it was brought south again, this time to Croydon. From the next day onwards, it was involved in intense action as the Battle of Britain approached its climax. Over the next few days Cooper-Slipper had a number of combat victories over both enemy fighters and bombers.

One of the most extraordinary of these was on September 15, the culmination of the daylight air fighting over Britain. Attacking a formation of bombers over Kent, Cooper-Slipper had his controls shot away by their return fire and had also run out of ammunition. In desperation he rammed a Dornier Do17 amidships and sent it crashing down into a field. In the collision his own aircraft had suffered fatal damage and he baled out, suffering only minor injury in the process, and came down on farmland near Marden.

His last combat of the Battle of Britain was on September 27, when he damaged an Me109. Thereafter he was rested from operations and in November was awarded the DFC.

In 1941 came postings as a flight commander to 96 Squadron at Cranage, Cheshire, where it was involved in the defence of Liverpool, and to 74 Squadron at Acklington, Northumberland. Then, in November 1941 he joined 135 Squadron which was intended for Burma.

Before it could get there the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor and were advancing on Singapore. Cooper-Slipper and several of its pilots were retained in Singapore to join 232 Squadron, which was woefully under strength since its pilots were, in the confusion of the time, only arriving in the island in dribs and drabs. Its aircraft were the first Hurricanes to see action against the renowned Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force, and they gave a good account of themselves.

On January 22, 1942, Cooper-Slipper shot down two Mitsubishi G3M bombers (the type that had sunk the Prince of Wales and Repulse). Over the next few days he claimed three more G3Ms.

As Singapore fell, Cooper-Slipper escaped with the few remaining aircraft to Palembang in Sumatra. But Japanese forces very soon afterwards arrived here too, parachute troops descending on the island on February 16, 1942, the day after the fall of Singapore. Cooper-Slipper managed to slip away by night to Batavia (Jakarta) in Java. There he was seriously injured by a bomb blast, but was fortunate not to fall into the hands of the enemy. He was evacuated to Ceylon by the last hospital ship to leave Java. From there he was sent to hospital in Poona.

Recuperating from his wounds there, and in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, he was later posted to the Middle East as chief test pilot at RAF Aboukir, in Egypt. There, as commanding officer of the Special Performance Spitfire Flight, he took part in the development of the famous Battle of Britain interceptor for the different requirements of high-altitude photo reconnaissance and low-level tactical recce sorties. This development flying involved plenty of contact with the enemy’s reconnaissance aircraft — Ju88s and Ju188s. Cooper-Slipper carried out many interceptions at well above 30,000ft, the most remarkable being an interception of a Ju188, which he attacked and inflicted damage on at 44,100ft.

Returning to England after this appointment, Cooper-Slipper ended his war as chief test pilot at RAF Lichfield.

He retired from the RAF in 1946 and in the following year emigrated to Canada. There, in 1948, he joined Avro Canada at Malton, Ontario, as an engine fitter. But it was not long before he was appointed the first test pilot to be hired by the company after the war. There, among the aircraft he tested was the CF100 Canuck, Canada’s home-grown jet fighter, which was to become the mainstay of the RCAF’s all-weather interceptor force for ten years. In this testing he was joined from 1952 by another emigrant from the UK, the Polish Battle of Britain pilot, Jan Zurakowski, who died this year (obituary February 24).

When Avro’s jet engine division was hived off to form Orenda engines, in 1955 Cooper-Slipper became its chief test and development pilot. As such he became the only pilot to test the Orenda Iroquois engine which was destined as the power plant for the advanced twin-engined Mach2 CF105 Arrow fighter. The flight testing of the engine was done in a specially modified B47 bomber lent by the USAF. But the engine was destined not to see service in the CF105. When the prototype made its maiden flight (piloted by Zurakowski) in 1958 the Orenda was not yet ready, and the Arrow took to the air powered by American Pratt and Whitney engines. Thereafter the Canadian Government cancelled the aircraft before subsequent Orenda-engined prototypes could be tested.

After 1959 Cooper-Slipper turned to another career, in aircraft sales, for companies including de Havilland and Field Aviation. In 1972 he joined the Ontario Ministry of Industry and Trade, and travelled widely promoting Canadian-built aircraft throughout the world. He was instrumental in the creation of the Ontario Aviation Consortium.

Peter Roland Cope 1921-2005

Peter Roland Cope was born in Croydon, England on December 7, 1921, and thus shares a birthday that with the date that now lives in infamy, for its being the day of the Pearl Harbour attack in 1941. As a boy, he developed an intense interest in aviation as Croydon was then the location of London’s main airport. At a young age he became determined to make a career in the Royal Air Force, hopefully as a flier, after completing college.
The fact of Britain being at war with the Axis as of September, 1939 forced a change in his career plans. He enlisted in the RAF and, due to the pressures on pilot training in the UK, exascerbated by the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, was sent to the United States for pilot training in 1941. As such, Cope learned to fly with the U.S. Army Air Corps in the American Deep South. After successful training at Craig Field, Alabama, he was bestowed with the coveted silver wings of a USAAC pilot on May 16, 1942. Thus his RAF battle dress perhaps became an intriguing symbol of the new wartime alliance between the United States and Britain.

He flew North American P-51s, Hawker Tempests, de Havilland Mosquitos and other types during WW II and went through the Empire Test Pilot school in Britain. After returing to England and completing advanced fighter trainin, he was posted to 170 Sqn., RAF. Here he undertook operations on another symbol of allied cooperation; the P-51A Mustang, designed and built in the United States for Britain’s express (and immediate) needs, over a 143 day period by North American Aviation.

Peter flew low level combat reconnaissance missions in the fabled Mustang, as Flight Lieutenant and later as Acting Squadron Leader, photographing all kinds of targets in Hitler’s Festung Europa, or Fortress Europe. Due to the early Mustang 1s (or P-51As) being powered by the non-supercharged American Allison engine, this series of the fighter only allowed the Mustang to show its high-speed potential at low level, before receiving the US license-produced version of the engine in Britain’s top fighters and bombers, the Rolls Royce Merlin. The aircraft Peter flew initially carried six 50 calibre machine guns, an armament that seemed very potent in its effects compared with the early British Hurricanes and Spitfires. It certainly seemed dramatic in effect to a 20 year old bearing down on trains and other military targets in France and the Low Countries at near record speeds—often below treetop height, while attempting to accurately bring guns to bear. This represented the secondary aspect of his duties, his primary responsibilities included navigating at extremely low-level, often under very low cloud ceilings in dubious weather, to arrive a very specific destinations at precise moments in time, to bring his ‘primary armament’ (consisting of oblique and look-down cameras) to bear at the proper angle and height. To provide crystal clear photos of Nazi installations and formations these fighting ‘pilot-navigators’ faced the added demand of handling the aircraft very smoothly, at the time that the enemy would be concentrating any available guns of their own what amounted to Britain’s belligerent spying eye.

Cope’s reconnaissance photography was consistently of high-calibre. When he received a new Mustang with armament of considerably higher calibre than the A model carried (four 20mm cannon vs. six .50 cal.), he has related experiencing a somewhat enhanced effect when brought accurately to bear. Returning from a photo assignment one day a train came into view ahead of Peter and he gave the engine a long blast of cannon fire. The very next day he was returning again on the same track and saw the train was where he had attacked it, with the wheels and other heavy steel casting shattered and broken from his fire.
Peter served what amounted to three consecutive combat tours of duty before the administrative system caught up with him and posted him to training duties. On the intellectual level Cope justified his ‘overtime’ on photo-recce operations because he felt, obviously with the support of his immediate superiors, he was making an excellent contribution to the war effort—otherwise squadron staff officers would have ensured his normal rotation. As a young flying enthusiast however, he was certainly enjoying some of the more visceral aspects of riding over 1,000 horsepower at 400 mph, aquiring intelligence that helped the Allies plan and execute the defeat of Naziism, with the bonus of being able to take out his share of Nazi forces in more direct ways.
Since Cope had demonstrated particular skill in ground attack, he was posted to various operational training units, where he earned the Pilot Attack Instructor qualification on aircraft such as the Spitfire, while teaching the boys how to shoot and blow the right things up. Peter’s ability is indicated by his gaining the specialist qualification for armament development. On these postings Cope was moved around a considerable amount as the RAF appears to have wanted to spread his particular expertise around.

This technology, along with Peter Cope, would be exported by Hawker Siddeley to Canada through A.V. Roe Canada Ltd. Hawker Siddeley directors, led by Sir Roy Dobson of Avro, had high hopes of becoming a major competitor in the North American market through Avro Canada .Following the end of his three year RAF testing commitment, in 1949 he resigned from the RAF and took a job as a test pilot at Armstrong Whitworth aircraft. Armstrong Whitworth was a component, as would be Avro Canada , of the Hawker Siddeley Group, which included Avro in Britain , the already legendary Hawker Aircraft, and Gloster, who produced the Meteor jet fighter—the only allied jet to see combat duty in WW II. There he resumed test flying on the Lincoln bomber and Meteor fighter, which Armstrong Whitworth facilities helped produce for their designers and co-builders; Avro and Gloster respectively. While with Sir W.G. Armstrong Whitworth Company, he flew the Gloster Meteor Mk.8 and (once they became available) the Mk.11 night fighter extensively during their development and production. During his time in Britain , Cope flew 103 aircraft types. He was inducted into the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators of the British Empire on February 2, 1950.

During this time considers it his good fortune to have done some chauffer flying for Fred Smye when he visited Hawker Siddeley from Canada . He made the most of the opportunity to mention to Smye that he would be interested in flying Canada ’s new CF-100 jet fighter, if and when the need for more pilots emerged. Fred Smye was the youthful Canadian entrepreneur-turned-industrialist, who, after rising to be the number two man in the aircraft production division of federal minister C.D. Howe’s Department of Munitions and Supply, had been appointed to run Hawker Siddeley’s new operations in Canada. For various reasons things had not worked out in Canada with the first test pilot chosen for the new company’s new jet fighter by Sir Roy Dobson (a leading Hawker Siddeley executive and head of Avro Aircraft in Britain). Smye was in a particularly bad situation since the test pilot that the Royal Canadian Air Force had loaned Avro Canada as a temporary replacement for Bill Waterton, Bruce Warren, and his observer were killed in the crash of the second of the two XC-100 prototypes. Following Warren’s death Smye sent Cope a cable which read “fly over immediately all expenses paid terms discussed on arrival”. Cope complied in May of 1951 and viewed his entrée into Canadian aviation with glee, despite the tragic circumstances that had led up to it.

He made his first flight in an Avro CF-100 on May 7th 1951 and due to his experience from WW II became the unofficial armament development pilot for the CF-100 programme. When one is modestly aware of the scientific challenges of attempting to produce the most technologically advanced long range, all weather, day or night jet fighter, and it’s new jet technology powerplant, one can see that Avro needed some real competence post-haste. For Peter it meant a risky business, as pilot safety developing new weapons in a new airframe with a new engine, cannot be anything but reduced. Under Don Rogers, Avro Canada ’s chief test pilot, Cope was initially very disappointed with the performance of the CF-100 prototype and Mk.2 aircraft, as many, many component and production problems were worked out. A critical one involved fuel control for the new Orenda turbojet, a crucial area that was plaguing similar high-thrust turbojet developments world-wide. Orenda achieved for Canada something of a breakthrough in turbojet fuel systems and combustion design, with the engine being noted for high-thrust, easy handling, near smokeless operation and exceptional reliability. After some familiarization flights in the first prototype XC-100 as it was turned into the Mk.2 by replacement of the British Avon engines in favour of the Canadian TR.5 Orenda, and a structural upgrade in the spar/engine nacelle joint. Cope composed a list of 19 “fixes” which he insisted had to be addressed before the CF-100 could be considered a reasonable operational fighter.
Of his flying career, Peter considers his first flight in the Arrow to have been the most exciting of his career. He says the second most exciting was the occasion of the gun gas explosion while testing the cannon installation in the CF-100. He describes the most spectacular flight of his career as having been in the JATO-assisted take-offs of CF-100 FB-H with the increase in climb and acceleration, of an aircraft already noted for good take-off performance, being simply astounding. Vern Morse, one of Avro’s “Jetographers”, won an award from an association of photographers for his the photo of Cope’s first take-off under JATO assist. Like Zurakowski, he also took the CF-100 supersonic in the dive. The CF-100 gained the distinction of being the first straight-winged aircraft to break the sound barrier. Along with its originator, Cope and was involved in experiments to try to duplicate the “Zurabatic Cartwheel” that fellow Avro test pilot Janusz Zurakowski had invented (while with Glosters in England) with the Meteor ground attack aircraft. They were not successful due to the engines being close to the aircraft centreline on the CF-100 and thus not allowing sufficient asymmetric thrust to achieve the yaw rate required. Nevertheless, Cope, ‘Zura’, Rogers and other Avro test pilots introducing millions of Canadians to jet aviation with dazzling, and often imprompu, air displays, especially in the Toronto area.He made over 1,900 flights accumulating over 1,600 hours in the CF-100—more than any test pilot and perhaps more than any pilot period. He also flew 103 different aircraft types in his career. Some notable experiences included over-running a defective .50 caliber round in the CF-100 with the bullet puncturing an engine nacelle. The sometimes erratic folding fin rockets that were developed in a 58 rocket twin-pod arrangement, also caused some excitement with one rocket emerging from the pack quasi-normally, performed a loop in front of his eyes, and returned to punch a hole in his starboard aileron! On another occasion a rocket punctured the radome just in front of the cockpit. While this armament system was developed successfully, an initial retracting belly-pack arrangement, that lowered into the slipstream before launch, was considerably more hazardous, and was abandoned due to the dangers exposed by the test pilots at Avro.

Cope tested the then experimental T-160 rotary breech cannon on the CF-100 in a four gun arrangement. (This effort led to the weapon used in Canada ’s CF-104s and current CF-18 fighters.) For Cope this would mean the increase in armament being considerably more impressive than the jump obtained from the Mustang 1 to 2 transition—because a single T-160 had a rate of fire nearly equal to all four guns of his cannon-armed Mustang, with projectiles of the same calibre. This CF-100 had four of these weapons and therefore represented potential average weight of fire, for a quarter of a minute, (requiring a huge magazine for each weapon) approaching that of a naval cruiser.

In part because there were jamming and potential misfire hazards, Avro decided in mid-1954 that the weapon was not developed enough for use in the CF-100. In terms of the CF-100 part of the equation, a probable subtext existed regarding explosive gas collection dangers, plus structural problems, inherent in the adoption of this number of T-160s. In fact Cope relates the nearest he came to the “real thing” was during the final test of the T-160s, which called for a live continous firing of all four cannon at near maximum speed at 5,000 feet, for seventeen seconds. This was punctuated by a massive explosion in the centre section that blew off both port engine cowls. This set off a near-instantaneous chain reaction involving the lower cowl section damaging the wing leading edge, followed by the upper canopy ricocheting off, and shattering, the Perspex canopy. Cope had difficulty persuading the observer not to proceed with a dangerous low-level ejection and following stall and handling tests made a successful landing at Malton. Cope received several letters of commendation and thanks from Smye and senior management for his handling of dangerous situations.

In reality, Cope is probably the pilot most responsible for experimental missile development test flying in Canada during the 1950s. In highly technical and classified missile firings Peter launched the majority of the Sparrow 3 and 2D missiles, that epitomized 1950s CARDE, DeHavilland, Canadair, Westinghouse, Douglas, Hughes, RCA and Avro Canada collaboration in missile technology.
Cope is one of only four pilots to fly the Avro Canada CF-105 Arrow pre-production aircraft. During the design phase of the Arrow Cope was involved in testing the (fully-powered vs. boosted hydraulic) flight control development CF-100. This aircraft was used to test feedback and other effects on a fully-powered system in mind for the Arrow, under different simulated flight conditions. Avro gained much needed data on the effects of flight, vibration (including sound) and aeroelasticity with this test rig. On one occasion a mode was induced on this aircraft that resulted in hydraulic feedback that developed into a shake in the flight controls and over-pressures that the CF-100 seemed ready to tear itself apart. It was, indeed, damaged severely, with many lessons learned for the CF-105 in design, simulation, controls and hardware. Subsequent Avro work in this period represented the the first major use of real time or ‘at the speed of light’ computing in various aspects of aircraft design. Following the CF-100 powered hydraulic test aircraft Avro developed an Arrow hydraulic systems test rig in the plant with Cope involved in the testing and development of this unit. Actual Arrow components were tested, evaluated, rejected, improved or replaced in this rig. Once it was hooked via Avro’s IBM 704 mainframe to the computerized Arrow flight simulator, which interfaced the pilots controls, navigation computer, radar, and other items as they were developed, became the world’s first 4,000 psi, “real time” electronic flight control system, with pilot’s inputs originating as an electrical signal, for all flight control surfaces. With Zurakowski, Potocki, and Woodman, Peter Cope shares the distinction of having flown the first aircraft in the world to fly with such a system, an aircraft designed and built in Canada for Canada !

Those were days of high enthusiasm at Avro, and the Arrow was shaping up to be a monster in terms of performance and weapons capabilities. Once again, Peter Cope was selected to lead the armament development for the Arrow due to his expertise, and his testing of the various missile systems in the CF-100 had mostly been directed to the acquisition of primary weapons for the Arrow. He also undertook work as a ‘guinea pig’ for the RCAF school of environmental medicine (co-located with the DCIEM) for high-G centrifuge and high-altitude de-compression. He was also involved in high-temperature environment research.
After the Arrow cancellation, Cope remained at Avro until 1961 and was involved in flight testing John Frost’s “Avrocar” flying saucer. This led to advanced Canadian knowledge in ‘jet-flap’ and ducted methods of lift-augmentation. This led, for example, to Don Whittley’s ‘augmentor wing’, developed for the de Havilland Canada Buffalo STOL aircraft. He thus became the only Avro test pilot to have test flown all of Avro’s prototype aircraft. These included the Jetliner, the Lancaster Orenda test-bed, the CF-100 prototypes, the Orenda Sabre development plane, the Arrow and the Avrocar. Like all the others who experienced the Avro Jetliner, he became an avid admirer, and laments her passing and the circumstances that caused it.
After the Arrow cancellation he joined Boeing in Seattle Washington and worked in their customer support organization, becoming a manager covering the introduction of the Boeing 727, 737, 747, and 767 to service in various airlines.Peter retired as recently as 1986 after what anyone must agree is an outstanding career in aviation and participated in some of the most historic events in aviation for nearly half a century. Until his passing in April, 2005.

Jack Woodman 1925-1987

He was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada on May 14, 1925 and joined the Royal Canadian Air Force after gradating high school. Trained as an aerial gunner, he shipped to England in June 1944 in the RCAF Bomber Command. He completed 23 combat missions in British built Halifax and Lancaster bombers. He was enroute to the Pacific theater, as a volunteer on VJ day.

He left the RCAF shortly thereafter for the University of Saskatchewan's for associate general-engineering training, but rejoined the RCAF in 1948 for pilot training.
Woodman eventually became Canada's representative to the Empire Test Pilot's School in England where he tested numerous types of aircraft, including the Vampire, Lancaster, Otter and Chipmunk. He was instrumental in testing the first Canadian designed jet fighter, CF-100 and flew demonstrations at the 1955 Paris Air Show with it. He became project pilot of the Mach 2 Avro CF-105, interceptor, and he was the only military pilot to fly the Arrow aircraft.The Arrow was cancelled after only 60 flights by its 3 pilots and RCAF selected the F-104 as its fighter-bomber in Europe and Jack transferred to Palmdale CA as their Project Pilot, to work with Lockheed on the CF-104 version, which flew August 1961. As a result, he was hired by Lockheed a year later as an engineering test pilot, testing the various models for foreign sales. He was named project pilot for the AST.

Wladyslaw 'Spud' Potocki 1919-1996

Polish born Wladyslaw "Spud" Potocki took over Arrow test flights following Jan Zurakowski's retirement from active test flying in Sept 1958. Potocki served with the Polish Air Force and then escaped after collapse of Poland during the Second War. He then joined the Royal Air Force (Polish Squadrons) in England. After the war, he graduated from the British Empire Test Pilot School. Following emigration to Canada in the early 1950s, Potocki was engaged as a test pilot with "Avro Aircraft Canada Ltd". He accumulated the highest number of hours of the four pilots who flew the first five Arrow aircraft. It was recorded that he reached a speed of Mach 1.9 in one of the Arrows, but it was rumoured that he actually reached Mach 2.0. Following the cancellation of the Arrow program in 1959, Potocki is the only pilot that "flew" the experimental Avrocar. After the closing of Avro Canada he joined North American Rockwell as a test pilot. Then a career-ending accident unrelated to flying, in which he lost an eye, Potocki and his wife purchased and operated a motel complex and business in Columbia, Ohio, where he died in 1996.

Donald 'Don' Howard Rogers 1916-2006

Don was chief test pilot at Avro Aircraft Canada Ltd. from the beginning of Jetliner flight test, to until after Black Friday and Arrow cancellation. Notably, he oversaw the entire experimental and development test flying of the CF-100, the only Canadian-designed and built fighter to reach squadrons. Even before this he had been chief test pilot at Victory Aircraft, which produced Lancaster bombers at Malton before Avro took over the facility.
Donald Howard Rogers was born in Hamilton Ontario Canada, on 26 November, 1916. Early interest in aviation led him to take flying training at the Hamiton Aero Club where he earned his pilot's licence in 1936.
As war loomed ever closer in the late 1930s, Don's flying progress also continued. He took the Royal Canadian Air Force instructor course at Borden when war came for the British Empire and Europe in September 1939. Then, as Assistant Chief Flying Instructor, No. 10 Elementary Flying Training School, Mount Hope, Ontario to December, 1941.
In January of 1942 he transferred to the National Steel Car plant and test flew Westland Lysanders and Avro Ansons. When the factory was shut down to change over to Lancaster production, Rogers joined the RAF Ferry Command flight test unit at Dorval Quebec. Here he tested the Lockheed Hudson and Venture maritime patrol-bombers, Consolidated B-24 Liberators and North American B-25 Mitchells. He did two trans-Atlantic ferry flights, of a Hudson and a B-24. On one of these flights he stayed five days at Avro (U.K.) familiarizing himself with the Lancaster at Woodford, the main company airfield.
Victory Aircraft (which was the same National Steel Car plant but had been nationalised), rolled out a pseudo-complete Lancaster on August 6 th , 1943. Rogers worked production test-flying until September, 1945. Once Dobson, Smye and C.D. Howe worked out their agreement and Avro Canada was founded in December 1945, Rogers assumed his position as Chief Test Pilot. In the beginning, the only work Avro had was in overhauling and testing RCAF equipment such as Mitchells, Sea Furies, Lancasters, Dakotas and others, - with Rogers doing the check flight.
Once the Jetliner was ready to fly, Jimmy Orrell was brought in from Britain to test fly the plane. While Orrell and everyone of consequence acknowledges that Don could have done the first flights, the choice of Orrell was based on good reasons, -namely that Orrell had flown the Tudor 8, which used four Rolls-Royce Derwent jet engines in an aircraft design not that far removed from the Jetliner. After the sixteenth flight, Rogers took over as experimental test pilot on the Jetliner. Don probably broke more city to city speed records in Canada and the United States while showing off the Jetliner, than any man in history, -although his modesty ensures such a claim would never pass his own lips.
During the Avro Gas Turbines division TR-5 Orenda jet engine development program, Rogers flew the Lancaster test-bed aircraft (FM 209). This swift Lanc had the two outer Merlin engines replaced by Orenda turbojets. In this aircraft, the Orenda engine first flew with Rogers at the controls. He first flew the CF-100 on 13 July, 1950 and thereafter flew hundreds of hours in each version, with the reality being that the aircraft development, -for the development test pilots at least- was more of an evolution to the final Mk.4M, rather than big steps. Nevertheless, the final CF-100 versions were a far different (and better) aircraft than the prototype or Mk. 2's or 3's.
Don would fly challenging flights in the Jetliner and CF-100 to develop the systems for true all-weather operation in Canada. These involved the dangerous practice of seeking ice and some harrowing moments arose. Happily, the anti-icing systems were well designed and no aircraft were lost in this development.
Don relates in conversation regretting that history, and the Diefenbaker conservatives, conspired to prevent him getting the chance to fly the CF-105 Arrow. After Black Friday, Don went on to a distinguished career flying at de Havilland Canada where he flew all their aircraft types in test-flying and demonstrations to potential customers world wide. He continued flying at DHC until he was 63 and continued training pilots on the de Havilland aircraft, until he was 70. He has 12,000 hours on 30 types

Maj David G.Simons MD 1922-2010

Dr. Simons received his medical degree at Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1946 and served his internship at Lancaster General Hospital, Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1947. Simons entered the U.S. Air Force in 1947 and was assigned to the USAF Aeromedical laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. From 1948 to 1949, He was Project Officer for Animal Studies in V-2 rocket flights to high altitudes.

From 1953 to 1959, Simons was Chief of Space Biology at the AF Missile Development Center at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. During that time, he was Project Officer on Project 7851 which included high altitude balloon flight experiments studying cosmic radiation effects, weightlessness and space equivalent conditions.

Project Manhigh was established in December 1955 to obtain scientific data on the behavior of a balloon in an environment above 99% of the earth's atmosphere and to investigate cosmic rays and their effects on man. Three balloon flights to the edge of space were made during the program: Manhigh 1 to 29.6 km, by Captain Joseph Kittinger on 2 June 1957; Manhigh II to 30.95 km, by Major David Simons on 19 and 20 August, 1957; and Manhigh III to 29.9 km by Lieutenant Clifton McClure on 8 October 1958.

Including the pilot and scientific equipment carried aboard, the total weight of the Manhigh II gondola was 747 kg. At maximum altitude, the balloon expanded to a diameter of 60 m with a volume in excess of 85,000 cubic m.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Charles E. Richbourg 1923 –1954

Charles E. Richbourg was born in St. Augustine, Florida, and was introduced to flying at an early age. Over half of the family was pilots – his father, his older brother and older sister.
Charles graduated from St. Augustine’s Ketterlinus High School in 1941 and then from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then joining the Navy as a pilot during World War II. Following four years in the Navy, Charles became a test pilot for Convair. In those days test pilots were very involved in designing the planes in addition to flight testing. He knew Chuck Yeager and his name was included in early discussions of astronaut candidates.
His last project with Convair was testing the YF2Y1 Sea Dart, a high performance delta wing jet fighter that featured hydro-skis for water landings – the world’s fastest jet seaplane. The Navy was interested in these capabilities because it combined the speed of land-based jets with the versatility of a water-based craft. In August, 1954, at age 31, Charles Richbourg became the first – and remains the only – man to break that sound barrier in a seaplane, at 34,000 feet.
On November 4, 1954, the Navy arranged a demonstration for the Navy brass, press and others of three current Convair projects, two of them at the Convair seaplane ramp on San Diego Bay. Sadly,the flight of the Sea Dart was his final flight.The aircraft disintegrated, the left wing separated from the aircraft.The nose and cockpit section separated from other disintegrating parts of the aircraft as they plunged into San Diego Bay in full view of the visiting dignitaries. Rescue frog men standing by in a water launch were quick to find the cockpit in the shallow bay. The canopy was opened and they brought Richbourg to the surface. At first there was hope that he had survived but that was not to be. Richbourg died of his injuries.

Joseph 'Mutt' J. Summers 1903-1954

Mutt Summers (right) with George Edwards
Mutt Summers ( right) with brother Maurice Summers

Joseph Summers, affectionately known for some reason as “Mutt”, was granted a short service commission in the RAF at the age of 21 and learned to fly Avro 504s and Sopwith Snipes at Duxford. He passed out at Digby in 1924 and was posted to 24 Sqn flying Sopwith Snipes, which were soon replaced by Gloster Grebes. He must have had exceptional talent, because after only 6 months he was posted to Martlesham Heath as a test pilot, a signal honour for a short-service officer.

Among the first aircraft he tested were the Gamecock, Bulldog, Hornbill and Avenger. The prototype Bulldog was so unstable he almost had to make his first parachute jump. It got into a spin that he could not stop, but when he started to get out he found that the airflow disturbance caused by his body had started to bring the aircraft out of the spin. He returned to his seat and landed – the fuselage was then extended by 18 inches and no further problems occurred with the Bulldog.

During a terminal velocity test in a Hawker Hawfinch the upper decking of the fuselage collapsed, with the side effect of overtightening the Sutton harness and jamming Mutt so tightly in his seat he could hardly breathe. He decided never to use shoulder straps again, which undoubtedly saved his life on another occasion.

One of the Martlesham pilots to test the Vickers 141 single-seat Scout in January 1928 was F/O John Summers, soon to become a Flight Lieutenant and Vickers’ chief test pilot.

The Vickers biplane bomber proposal to meet Spec. B.19/27 flew for the first time for 10 minutes in the hands of Mutt, on 30 November 1929. This competitor to the Heyford, eventually called the Vanox, was extensively modified, being flown many times by Mutt, but was eventually unsuccessful in being adopted by the Air Ministry. Instead it was used for testing, including at the RAE as a flight refuelling tanker, and was last seen at a public display in 1937, refuelling an Overstrand.

The prototype Vixen I, registered G-EBEC and designed as a private venture day bomber proposal, after several metamorphoses including major airframe changes, was fitted in 1924 with a developed version of the 650 hp Rolls-Royce Condor III direct-drive engine. Although undergoing trials at Martlesham in connection with the 1927 general-purpose competition, it was not selected. However in Mutt’s hands it had one claim to fame: on 26 August 1929, as on that date Mutt, along with Col Russell of the Irish Air Corps, flew the first airborne Irish mail, in G-EBEC from Galway to London.

Private venture single-seat shipboard aircraft Type 177 was flown by Mutt at Brooklands on 26 November 1929 and was the final development of the Vickers single-seat tractor biplanes.

The last aircraft to be built by Vickers at the Vickers Crayford Works was the Vellore Mk III, which was registered G-AASW and first flown by Mutt at Brooklands on 24 June, 1930.

The Vickers Type 160 Viastra commercial monoplane fuselage was built at the Crayford Works, but then work was transferred to Woolston, Southampton, which had just been acquired by Vickers. On completion at Woolston, the Viastra I was towed down the Itchen river and round to Hamble aerodrome on a lighter. Registered G-AAUB, it was then flown at Hamble by Mutt on 1 October, 1930.

In 1930, Barnes Wallis attempted to save weight in the structure of the Vickers proposal to meet the M.1/30 specification, given the serial S1641. Unfortunately he overdid the weight-saving, and after a couple of dozen test flights the aircraft disintegrated with pilot Mutt and flight test observer J. Radcliffe on board. Both landed safely by parachute, but the entry for this flight in Mutt’s log book was very laconic! This was on 23 November, 1933, in a high speed dive with full load, when the whole fuselage detached from the wings and Mutt was thrown out, his parachute opening immediately. Radcliffe’s safety belt was released or broken, and he found himself suspended by his parachute back-strap from the machine-gun on the starboard side of his cockpit. After some seconds he became detached and then released his parachute.

Vickers tried to interest the Air Ministry in a new tactical concept with their Type 163 Battleplane, with huge 37 mm COW guns at the nose and tail and another firing downward beneath the fuselage. Powered by a combination tractor/pusher propeller arrangement, Mutt flew it for the first time on 12 January 1931 as a bomber, but it completed only 40 hours of test flying and was broken up in the early summer of 1934.

On 4th November 1932 Mutt, by then chief test pilot for Vickers, received a letter from an officer of 216 (Bomber Transport) Squadron requesting that the Victoria (originally designed to meet the Troop Carrying Aeroplane (B) D of R Type 12 specification) should be re-engined with Bristol Pegasus engines and provided with wheel brakes and a tail wheel to replace the skid. Vickers had, probably unknown to this officer, already investigated the possibility of installing the Pegasus in the Victoria V airframe, and K2340 was selected for the initial conversion. This eventually became the Valentia.

A special twin-engined Viastra, Type 259, was built for the use of the Prince of Wales on official flights. It even included parachutes for the crew and passengers. Registered G-ACCC on 19 December 1932, in the name of Flt Lt E. H. Fielden, AFC, the Prince of Wales’ pilot and later Captain of the King’s Flight, it was first flown by Mutt Summers at Hamble in April 1933.

A development of the Vellore, the Vellox, claimed to have optimum (short landing and take-off) airfield performance, first flew as G-ABKY on 23 January, 1934 at Brooklands, piloted by Mutt Summers. On a second flight on the same day it carried its full design load.

The first of Barnes Wallis' geodetic aircraft was the Wellesley bomber, Mutt flying the prototype for the first time on 19 June, 1935. He was landing this aircraft on 23 July when the port undercarriage collapsed, resulting in several months in the workshops to repair the serious damage to the wing.

The Wellington was designed to meet Spec. B.9/32 and the first flight of the prototype, K4049, was made by Mutt, accompanied by Messrs. Wallis and Westbrook, designer and factory manager respectively, at Brooklands on 15 June, 1936. It was to have been called the Crecy, but the change to Wellington (to commemorate the Iron Duke), started the practice of using the initial letter W for Vickers aircraft that employed Barnes Wallis geodetic structures. Of course the first Wellington Mk I L4212 was also first flown by Mutt, on 23 December, 1937, as was the first Mk III, L4251, on 19 May, 1939.

On 5 March, 1936 Jeffrey Quill flew Mutt Summers in Vickers' new Miles Falcon from Martlesham to Eastleigh, where Mutt was to fly the new F.37/34 fighter, later known as the Spitfire, of course!

The Vickers F.5/34 embodied many new features, including 90 degree trailing edge flaps and actually flew on its first test with its full battery of eight Browning machine guns in wing mountings.It also had electrical undercarriage. Mutt Summers flew this aircraft, now called the Venom, on 17 June, 1936 at Brooklands, nearly 3 months after he had flown the prototype Spitfire at Eastleigh.

Although the F.7/41 twin-engined fighter proposal DZ217 was first flown by Vickers test pilot Tommy Lucke, on 24 December 1942, a flight by Mutt Summers confirmed that the handling characteristics were not all that could be desired. The second prototype was never completed and the programme was officially stopped at the end of 1943, although DZ217 continued to fly until the end of 1944, being known by some as “the tin Mossie” due to its resemblance to the Mosquito.

There were 3 accidents with the Warwick within the space of a few days early in 1945, and Mutt, with his flight observer Jimmy Green, was involved in the one concerning HG364, from which they escaped without serious injury. Mutt’s brother Maurice (also a test pilot) was involved in another Warwick accident, PN777, in which his flight observer, G. F. Hemsley, broke his leg. The cause was found to be rudder aerodynamic overbalance, corrected by the addition of a dorsal fin.

Windsor DW506 was first flown from Farnborough by Mutt Summers on 23 October, 1943, having been assembled there in a specially built hangar later used by the ETPS. This was the first prototype Windsor, which is renowned for having gun barbettes at the rear of the two outboard engine nacelles. However, only 3 Windsors ever flew, the last without the barbettes. The second prototype was flown by Wg Cdr Maurice Summers, Mutt’s brother.

Britain’s first postwar airliner to fly was the Vickers VC1, adapted from the Wellington and Warwick designs, registered G-AGOK and flown by Mutt from Wisley on 22 June 1945. # prototypes were ordered by the Ministry of Aircraft Production, and this project became the Viking. This was followed by the military troop transport Valetta, the prototype being first flown by Mutt on 30 June, 1947 at Brooklands. Another later development was the Varsity for Flying Training Command, the first of which was VX828 flown by Mutt from Wisley on 17 July, 1949 with Jock Bryce as co-pilot.

The Viscount needs no introduction and the prototype of this tremendously successful turboprop civil transport (originally the VC2) was flown from Wisley by Mutt and Jock Bryce for 10 minutes on 16 July, 1948.

Jock Bryce recounts that on his first flight with Mutt in the prototype Viscount 630 he was astonished to see Mutt beginning his pre-flight checks by relieving himself alongside the main wheels. “Never fly with a full bladder,” was his advice, “I know people who crashed with one and it killed them!”

The very last prototype to have Mutt at the controls on its first flight was the Type 600 serial WB210, in June given the name Valiant, once again with Jock Bryce as co-pilot, from the grass at Wisley on 18 May, 1951. Only 3 more Valiant flights were made from Wisley before flight trials were transferred to Hurn, while a paved runway was being constructed at Wisley.

After 3 flights with Jock, he was checked out as first pilot and took over as chief test pilot when Mutt retired shortly afterwards. Sadly, his retirement was brief. He died after an operation 2 years later.

Hugh C.H Merewether 1924-2006

L-R,David Lockspeiser,Hugh Merewether,Bill Bedford and Frank Bullen
Hugh Merewether (Left) with Duncan Simpson

Hugh Merewether was born in South Africa on May 20 1924. He was educated at the Diocesan College (Bishops) and read Engineering at the University of Cape Town. During the war he joined the South African Navy and, after secondment to the Royal Navy, trained as a pilot in the United States.From 1948 to 1953 he worked under Dr Barnes Wallis as a junior technician in the research and development department at Vickers-Armstrong, while completing an external degree with the University of London, obtaining first-class honours in 1952. He left Vickers in 1953 and spent a year as a freelance pilot ferrying aircraft to India and the Middle East.

Throughout this time Merewether flew with the RAF Volunteer Reserve, and in 1951 joined No 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron flying Meteor fighters from Biggin Hill. He was a member of the squadron's formation aerobatic team until he left the squadron in 1955. A year earlier he had gone as a test pilot to Hawker, where his former squadron commander, Neville Duke, was the chief test pilot.Merewether was appointed deputy chief test pilot in 1956, and his aeronautical engineering interests led to a deep involvement in the development flying of the Hunter fighter.

Hugh Merewether was one of the British test pilots who pioneered the vertical and short take-off and landing (VSTOL) techniques that led to the production of one of the RAF's most successful and enduring combat aircraft, the Harrier. During 1957 the Bristol Aero Engine Company was developing a vectored thrust engine, later known as the Pegasus, which appeared to meet the emerging military need for a simple VSTOL tactical fighter capable of operating from unprepared areas. The Hawker Aircraft Company designed an aircraft, the experimental P.1127 powered by the Bristol engine, to test the new concept.

Merewether was the deputy chief test pilot at Hawker's airfield at Dunsfold when he joined the chief test pilot, Bill Bedford, in developing the techniques of vertical take off in the P.1127. Bedford made the first hovering flight in the prototype P.1127 on October 21 1960, and three days later Merewether completed the second flight. Over the next two years the two pilots shared the experimental test-flying task. The P.1127 had its share of accidents. On October 30 1962 Merewether was flying at 3,000 ft when the engine suffered a catastrophic failure and caught fire. Rather than eject, he managed to crash-land at RAF Tangmere, thus allowing the engineers to investigate the failure fully. He was awarded a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air; the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators awarded him the Derry and Richards Memorial Medal (1963).

Over the next two years Merewether explored the characteristics and techniques of transition from vertical to conventional flight as well as short take-offs from various airfields and platforms. He also displayed the aircraft at the Farnborough and Paris Air Shows. On March 19 1965 Merewether was diving through 28,000 ft at very high speed when the aircraft's engine failed. He headed for the nearest airfield, at Thorney Island, but a layer of cloud obscured it. At 4,000 ft a momentary gap in the cloud revealed the airfield, and he was able to continue the glide and make an emergency landing alongside the main runway. Shortly afterwards he was appointed OBE for "his great achievement in getting the aircraft back on the ground for examination, enabling the fault to be found and the elaborate trials to continue".

In 1967 Merewether was appointed Hawker's chief test pilot at Dunsfold. In addition to test flying, he helped convert military pilots to the P.1127's successor, the Kestrel, which was later developed as the highly successful Harrier.

James 'Jim' Reginald Cooksey 1912-2001

Jim Cooksey joined the RAF in 1928 as a 15-year-old aircraft apprentice. In 1936, he trained as a pilot, serving in seven different fighter squadrons, ending up in command of No 74 Gloster Meteor Squadron at RAF Colerne, near Bath, from 1945 until 1947.Cooksey had first applied to Gloster in 1947 after leaving the RAF, only to be told that the company had all the pilots it needed. On his way home from the interview, however, he heard on the wireless that a Gloster pilot had been killed during a test flight. He promptly sent a telegram offering his services again.Taken on as a production test pilot, Cooksey was given the task of testing the new single-seat Gloster Meteor VIII jet fighter. After arriving at Gloster, he helped to reduce the number of test flights it took to get the new Meteor deemed "off test" from an average of 17 flights to an average of two-and-half, saving the firm considerable time and money.He flew 4,900 hours in all, 2,200 of them in Meteors, including demonstrations at the Farnborough air shows in 1952, 1953 and 1954.

In 1950, in a bid to rise above the competition from other jets on the market, Gloster decided to try for the 1,000 kilometre closed circuit speed record of 464 mph, which had been set four years previously by Lieutenant Henry A Johnson of the United States Air Force, in a Lockheed P 80 ("Shooting Star") jet fighter.

Calculations showed that, in order to break the record, the fuel margin would need to be very low, and so Cooksey repeatedly practised reaching his home base of Moreton Valence airfield, near Gloucester, and landing his Meteor with empty tanks.

After waiting for several weeks for good visibility, Cooksey took off on his record-breaking attempt in brilliant sunshine at 5 pm on May 12 1950. He flashed across the starting line on the airfield at a height of 150 ft, before climbing and then throttling back to cruising power at 30,000 ft. As he headed towards his turning point at Fife Ness, near St Andrews, he had the benefits of clear visibility and a 20-knot south-easterly wind. He checked his straight course from selected landmarks at Widnes, Lancaster, Carlisle and the Firth of Forth. As he crossed the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, he started to descend in order to round the turning point at not more than 300 ft, so that the observers representing the International Aeronautical Federation could identify his aircraft. The point was near a golf course adjoining a wood at Cambo head, where white strips had been laid out and smoke candles were fired as the Meteor approached.

Cooksey then rose and turned for home, and did not begin to come down again until the Bristol Channel was in sight. He finally landed having covered the distance in 1 hour, 12 minutes and 58.2 seconds, with a recorded speed of 510.9 mph. Having started with 750 gallons of fuel, he had just 17 gallons left when he got home.On landing, Cooksey seemed a little disappointed: "It was not as fast as I hoped for," he said. "I was hoping to do the trip in one hour 10 minutes." His record nevertheless stood for six years, and the achievement was all the more meritorious since the aircraft was a completely standard Meteor VIII picked at random from the production line.

After the production of Meteors ceased in 1957, Cooksey spent five years inventing milk vending machines for Gloster Vending, a subsidiary of Gloster Aircraft Company, and then became a self-employed designer of vending and coin change machines. From 1968 until 1972, he worked for the British Aircraft Company as a facilities engineer at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, during the Concorde test programme.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Dale Felix 1927-2017

Dale Felix is a former US Air force pilot and USN Test Pilot School graduate. He is the retired former Chief of Flight Test at Boeing (Wichita) and former Learjet and FAA Test Pilot. Dale was actively involved in Wichita flight test for over 35 years. Dale was instrumental in the development of the B-52 while at Boeing. He has logged more than 10,000hrs in over 60 different aircraft types. He holds the distinction of having being selected as the first SETP Fellow from the Central Section.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Moye W.Stephens 1906-1995

Moye Stephens was born 21st Feb 1906 and died on 10th December 1995. Moye Stephens flew a Stearman C3B biplane with a J-5 Wright “Whirlwind” motor, extra gas tanks and large wheels. The plane was dubbed “The Flying Carpet” and he flew a 40,000 mile journey in it. He later became a test pilot for Lockheed, then Chief Test Pilot for Northrop. He flew the NIM, the XB-35 in 1946 and theYB-49 in 1947.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Didier Delsalle 1957-

On May 14th, 2005 at 7h08 (local time), a serial Ecureuil/AStar AS 350 B3 piloted by the EUROCOPTER X-test pilot Didier Delsalle, landed at 8,850 meters (29,035ft) on the top of the Mount Everest.This tremendous achievement breaks the World Record for the highest altitude landing and take-off ever, which sets an ultimate milestone in the History of Aviation.

Stanley A. Beltz 1911-1955

Stanley Beltz with P-38 (photo courtesy of Willy Logan)

Lockheed YC-130 First flight

Aug 23, 1954 Lockheed YC-130 Hercules First Flight with pilots Stanley Beltz and Roy Wimmer

The youngest of 12 children in a Russian-German immigrant family in Kansas, Beltz had worked his way up from humble beginnings to a well-paid test pilot's job. He landed his first job at Lockheed in 1936, as a sheet metal fabricator on twin-engine Electras. In 1940, after tackling flight training and ground school, he received his pilot's license.
When World War II began, Beltz left Lockheed in search of flying experience. He spent most of 1942 working for the Clenn L.Martin Company in Omaha, Neb., testing B-26C bombers. He returned to Lockheed after a crash that lefr him unscathed but unnerved.
Beginning in 1945, when chief test pilot Tony LeVier promoted him to engineering test pilot, Beltz would fly almost every aircraft type produced by Lockheed until 1955. He helped to test the Constellation airliner and the giant Constitution Navy transport. But his specialty was another Navy plane, the twin-engine
P2V Neptune patrol bomber. Between 1946 and 1954, Lockheed produced seven different versions of the P2V. Beltz test flew each new Neptune model,also serving as Lockheed's sales representative to the Navy.
The defining moment of Beltz's career came on August 23,1954, when he took the YC-130 Hercules prototype up for its first flight. Beltz and copilot Roy Wimmer raced down the runway and 
took off after eight seconds, using just 855 feet of runway.
On what would be his last mission, Beltz conducted a secret test for the Air Force and Boeing, carried out as part of the BOMARC cruise missile program. Lockheed technicians mounted the missile's long ogival nose cone on the front of an F-94B to test subsonic flight performance. During previous tests, Tony Le Vier and Herman "Fish" Salmon had found that the modification made the aircraft nose-heavy. This test called
for Beltz to perform three "clean" stalls and three "dirty" stalls {with landing gear and flaps extended).
After Beltz took off from Palmdale on August 31,1955, the first tests. In dean configuration, went smoothly. But Beltz did not climb back to altitude before beginning the dirty stalls. At 10,000 feet, 8,000 feet above
Lancaster's outskirts, he dropped the landing gear and fully extended the flaps. Applying full right rudder to put the jet into a stall, he cried, "Here she goes!"—his last transmission.
Test monitors waited in anxious silence for a minute. Then the pilot of a chase helicopter reported a fire on the ground 3 miles north of Lancaster. He also reported having seen no parachute.  Stanley Beltz had died at age 44.

Robert M.Stanley 1912-1977

Robert Morris Stanley, business executive and aeronautical engineer, was born in El Reno, Oklahoma, August 19th, 1912, the son of George and Jenny (Coffman) Stanley. He received his preliminary education at public schools in El Reno and in Venice, California. He attended Los Angeles City College in 1930-31 and completed his course in aeronautical engineering at the California Institute of Technology. Eventually he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1935 as a member of the Honors Section.
An aptitude for building model ships and skills that he learned as a Sea Scout helped the 19-year-old Stanley to gain employment as a loftsman with Douglas Aircraft Corporation. In 1931, this company installed the first model loft in the aircraft industry. In the Experimental Department, Stanley participated in the creation of the DC-1 and DC-2 aircraft, the forerunners of the long line of Douglas transports. To finance his college education, Stafford retained a part-time position at Douglas, participating in the design of the DC-3, DF-I (flying boat), Y-1043, XFD-1 (Navy fighter) and TDD (torpedo plane), which was the Navy's first low-wing monoplane designed for shipboard use.
During his student years, Stanley invented and obtained U.S. patents on a mechanically controlled, reversible pitch propeller. Although this propeller never reached production in the United States, the Germans adopted it and mass-produced it for their Luftwaffe (Air Force) during World War II.
Immediately after graduation in 1935, Stanley entered flight training at the Naval Reserve Elimination Base in Long Beach, California, and was sent to Pensacola, Florida, for further training. He received his wings as a Naval Aviator in 1936. Stanley's first assignment was to the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, which conducted fleet exercises in Hawaiian waters in the summer of 1937. On its return to San Diego, Stanley reported for duty aboard the USS Lexington to search for the missing Amelia Earhart. He received a commendation for his work as the ship's cartographer for the search in the vicinity of Howland Island, an effort which was abandoned after seven days. During the course of the search, the Navy developed a technique which continued to be the standard operating policy of looking for aircraft downed at sea.
Stanley was an instrument instructor for the Navy's flight training program at Pensacola for the 15 months prior to his discharge in October 1939. While in the fleet, he disclosed to the Bureau of Aeronautics details of a guided missile. This ultimately turned into Project Kingfisher, one of the Navy's earliest guided missile efforts. Late in 1939, Stanley took a position with United Aircraft Corporation, demonstrating the company's new dive bomber in Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires. On his return, he was assigned to its Vought-Sikorsky Division as an aircraft designer. Stanley left that position in June 1940 to become the chief test pilot and to establish the flight research department of Bell Aircraft Corporation in Buffalo, New York. He hired and supervised an aerodynamic section, and directed hangar mechanics and test pilots, overseeing up to 20 test airplanes flying simultaneous programs.
During World War II, Lawrence Bell was developing a jet airplane in secrecy, and Stanley was given the task of establishing the experimental flight program for the jet. He was also in charge of completing living and working facilities for the crew. This was an especially demanding task in the desolate desert area where the crew was based, near Muroc, California. On October 1st, 1942, Stanley made the maiden flight of the XP-59A jet fighter. He reported that, except for sluggishness in takeoff, the airplane's performance was "quite ordinary." From this beginning, the jet aircraft industry became a major endeavor in the United States. In the middle of the U.S. participation in World War II, the government selected Bell Aricraft to operate a plant in Marietta, Georgia, for the construction of the new Boeing-designed B-29 bomber. Transferring some of his staff from the Niagara Falls plant to Marietta, Stanley established the flight test operation there.
As World War II neared its end, Stanley earned a promotion to the positions of Chief Engineer and, subsequently, Engineering Vice President at Bell, guiding the transition from airplane production to guided missiles, rockets, avionics and helicopter engineering. In his new capacity, Stanley was responsible for a number of "firsts". These included the design and manufacture of America's first swept-wing fighter aircraft and the design, manufacture and flight testing of the world's first supersonic airplanes, the rocket-propelled X-1 and X-2. In connection with the X-1 and X-2 projects, Stanley supervised the design and testing of the first liquid-oxygen rocket motor in America. It exceeded 10,000 pounds of thrust, and was responsible for the design and manufacture of the world's first supersonic airplane to exceed Mach I, Mach II and Mach III. Both the X-1 and the X-2, having speeds in excess of 1,500 and 2,500 miles per hour respectively, pioneered the airplane launch and retrieval systems that later aircraft such as the North American X-15 utilized.
Stanley left Bell Aircraft in July 1948 to form Stanley Aviation Corporation, of which he was President until the end of his life.

LtGen Laurence C. Craigie 1902-1994

Laurence Carbee “Bill” Craigie was born in Concord, New Hampshire, on January 26th, 1902, to John and Florence Craigie and grew up in Stoneham, Massachusetts. Craigie graduated from West Point in 1923 and soon thereafter earned his wings. Two years later, he married Victoria Morrison of Yonkers, New York.
Following his marriage, Craigie served four years as a flight instructor at Brooks and Kelly Fields in Texas. While there he became the 44th member of the “Caterpillar Club” – a select group of airmen who have parachuted from a disabled aircraft.
From 1929 to 1931, Craigie was stationed at France Field, Panama Canal Zone, with the 7th Observation Squadron, flying more than 100 hours per month. He then returned to a post in Texas before attending the Air Corps Engineering School at Wright Field in Ohio. In 1935 he began as a Project Officer, Training and Transport Aircraft in the Engineering Section, Air Corps Materiel Division. In four years he advanced from Project Officer to Chief. During this first stay at Wright Field, Craigie had the opportunity to make some real contributions to aircraft design and to do some serious test flying in a number of developmental aircraft.
Craigie briefly departed Wright Field in 1939 to attend the Army Industrial College. He soon returned and once again engaged in aircraft development work, including the XP-43 and XP-47 programs. Through his work with the secret XP-59A project, Craigie received one of the most exciting opportunities of his career. After witnessing a test flight of the XP-59A, America’s first jet aircraft, Craigie was asked if he wanted to try flying it. He immediately accepted the offer. On 2 October 1942, Bill Craigie became America’s first military jet pilot.
As a new Brigadier General, in 1943 he sailed from Newport News, Virginia, for the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations as Commander of the 87th Fighter Wing, 12th Air Force. In 1944, under the Mediterranean Coastal Command, he was named Allied Air Commander of Corsica and, in August of that year, participated in the invasion of southern France. The 63rd Fighter Wing, which Craigie commanded, played an important role, providing air cover for naval convoys northbound off Sardinia and Corsica and protecting them from submarines.
Craigie returned to the United States, and at Niagara Falls Airport in 1945 experienced another first when he became the first Army Air Forces officer to be flown remotely in a radio controlled P-59. Later that year, on October 12th, 1945, at the Wright Field Air Fair, he stood by his friend Orville Wright on the flight line. He was there when the surviving Wright Brother first witnessed a flight by a jet propelled aircraft, a Lockheed YP-80. In 1946 Major General Craigie became Chief, Engineering Division, Air Materiel Command, Wright Field and later, Director of Research and Development, Headquarters USAF.
During the Korean War Craigie served as Vice Commander and Chief of Staff of the Far East Air Forces, and was the United States Air Force delegate on the five-member Korean War Truce Team at Kaesong and Panmunjom. But his primary calling: research and development, beckoned again. In late 1951 the Pentagon ordered him to Washington, D.C., to take a position as the Air Force’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Research and Development. In that assignment he earned his third star.
Three years later, Lieutenant General Craigie returned to Europe as Commander of NATO’s Allied Air Forces of Southern Europe. Following a heart attack in June of 1954, Lt. General Craigie retired from active duty and settled at Telucca Lake, California