Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sqn Ldr John S. Booth DFC* 1919-1958

John Booth with the Saunders Roe SR53

John Stanley Booth was born on 9 December 1919 at Totties, near Huddersfield in Yorkshire. He entered the RAF on a short service commission in December 1938 and served in various training units until October 1939, when he was sent to France with No. 59 Army Co-operation Squadron within the British Expeditionary Force.Booth earned the DFC during that first tour of operations. but he was wounded in May 1940 and was evacuated to England, where he stayed at the Hatfield Military Hospital until August 1940. Discharged from hospital, he served as a fying instructor in variuous units, until December 1940. In the following January, he was sent to Canada and there served as a flying instructor, earning his qualification as Flying Instructor by the CFS on 11 Februyary 1942.

A year later, in March 1943, Booth delivered a Boston bomber from Montreal to Prestwick, serving with the RAF Ferry Command at Dorval city, with which he stayed in April 1943.In May, Booth began his second tour of operations, serving successively with 51 OTU and 125, 151 and 239 Night Fighter Squadrons. During this period, Booth was awarded a Bar to his DFC after serving with Bomber Command on night intruder operations, until October 1944.

Booth's first experience of test flying was at Boscombe Down, where he served as a test pilot from October 1944 to March 1945. That month, he enrolled at the ETPS and completed No. 3 Course on 15 December 1945.In February 1946, Booth became one of a group of pilots who worked with Sir Frank Whittle at Power Jets (R&D) Ltd. He left that company in October, then in November that year he joined Short Brothers and Harland, Ltd as a test pilot, remaining with them until January 1949. He went to Saunders-Roe in February 1949, as deputy to their Chief Test Pilot Geoffrey Tyson. Booth became their Chief Test Pilot in February 1956 and flew the famous SR.1A flying jet boat and took part in tests of the Princess flying boat. He flew the prototype SR.53 on its initial flight at Boscombe Down on 1616 May 1957made 33 flights on the SR.53) but was killed on 5 June 1958 in the crash of the second SR.53 prototype, number XD151, on take-off.

A few days later he was posthumously awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air

John Cochrane 1930-2006

Brian Trubshaw (left) with John Cochrane in the cockpit of Concorde 002

John Cochrane was born into a farming family in Ayr, and educated at Strathallan school, Perth. He abandoned an engineering degree to join the RAF and graduated second in his year from Cranwell in 1952.
He was posted to the famous 617 squadron flying Canberra bombers, and moved on to pilot the Vickers Valiant, the first of Britain's three V-bombers. While graduating from the Empire Test Pilots School, Farnborough, in 1960, he met Brian Trubshaw, who two years later invited him to join what was then Vickers-Armstrong as a fellow test pilot.
In preparation for Concorde, Cochrane test-flew all the military aircraft then capable of Mach 2, twice the speed of sound, including the French Mirage series, the British Lightning and two specially built research aircraft, the Handley Page 115 and the Bristol 221. He was the co-pilot on the maiden flight of the British Concorde.
Cochrane saved a later production Concorde from what could have been a fatal crash when demonstrating the aircraft in 1974. His co-pilot selected gear-down halfway through a turn, which led to the left landing gear crashing out and being seriously damaged. Cochrane took over the controls, and briefed the crew and ground control for an emergency landing.Ground traffic at Concorde's Fairford base, in Gloucester, was halted while he nursed the aircraft down, so that the majority of the weight was placed on the right landing gear, in what would normally be an improper configuration. The seven-strong crew made an emergency exit over the right wing, but ground crews managed to get jacks under the fuselage before it collapsed to cause major damage. The episode led to another vital modification of the aircraft.

After that Cochrane test-flew all the British Concordes, and was in command when Concorde 101 reached its highest speed of Mach 2.23 and a height of 68,000ft. He established record three-hour crossings of the Atlantic in both directions.
By the time he had helped to train British Airways' Concorde pilots, and been appointed assistant director of flight operations at what had become BAC, there was little left for him to do. So he resigned, and in 1980 joined Cyprus Airways as a captain.

One of aviation's most respected figures, he was awarded the Queen's commendation for valuable service in the air in 1971, and the Derry and Richards award for flight testing in 1977. He was in one of the three Concordes that made their final landings in 2003

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Alan E.Bristow OBE Croix de Guerre 1923-2009

Alan Bristow, who founded Bristow Helicopters as Air Whaling in 1953, became the first helicopter test pilot employed by Westland Aircraft Limited. He was indeed their chief test pilot from 1947 to 1949. In September 1946 Lieutenant Alan Bristow carried out the first helicopter landing on a naval escort vessel at sea. Then he was again famous in 1947 when he flew a Westland Helicopters operated Sikorsky S51 on the first known police fugitive search over Norfolk in England.
A test pilot and helicopter pioneer, Bristow was a quixotic and unorthodox businessman whose helicopters worked the skies over every country in the world outside the Soviet bloc, and were crucial in the development of North Sea oil. A colourful, brawling personality with a towering temper, he was as happy in the company of whaling captains in South American bars as he was drinking champagne with Aristotle Onassis in the Hermitage in Monte Carlo.
He won the Croix de Guerre in 1950 for rescuing wounded French Foreign Legion soldiers in Indochina and was appointed OBE for services to aviation in 1966. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1967. A former chief executive of British United Airways, he numbered Douglas Bader, the Shah of Iran and the Duke of Edinburgh among his circle of friends, represented Great Britain at four-in-hand carriage driving and survived countless helicopter crashes and flying stunts of his own devising that were, in his own words, “bloody insane”.
Alan Edgar Bristow was born in Balham, South London, in 1923, and was brought up in Bermuda where his father, Sydney, was in charge of the naval dockyard. He moved to Portsmouth, when his father was promoted, and attended Portsmouth Grammar School with the author James Clavell, who remained a lifelong friend and wrote a book, Whirlwind, which was a fictionalised account of one of Bristow’s adventures. This occurred in 1979 when he extracted all his staff and most of his helicopters from Iran in a dawn operation under the guns of the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Revolutionary Guard.
After the Second World War broke out on his 16th birthday Bristow joined the British India Steamship Company as a deck officer cadet and was sunk twice, once aboard SS Malda by Japanese warships, and again aboard SS Hatarana by the German submarine U214 off the Azores. A squat, powerful man, Bristow was an unbeaten exponent of that vicious brand of shipboard boxing in which men fought when tied together at the ankle.
He was present at the evacuation of Rangoon in 1942 and the Operation Torch landings in North Africa in 1942 but jumped ship to join the Fleet Air Arm in 1944. Graduating in the top four of his pilot training course, he was sent to New York to learn to fly the Sikorsky R4 and became one of the first Britons to master the difficult and unpredictable early helicopter.
Bristow was hired as Westland Aircraft Company’s first helicopter test pilot in 1947, at a time when 25 per cent of the UK test pilot population was being killed every year, and survived many close calls. His record was six engine failures in different helicopters in one day. Always on a short fuse, Bristow was sacked for knocking out Westland’s sales manager after an argument, and moved to Paris to run an ad hoc helicopter operation where his duties included flying up and down the Seine with a pair of circus trapeze artists slung beneath his machine. He survived one crash when the ladder got wrapped around his tail boom and tore it off, and another when he was overcome by DDT fumes while spraying oranges in Algeria. After he had crashed in Senegal when an engine mounting bolt sheared, he fixed the helicopter with baling wire and flew it 30 kilometres to Dakar.
Bristow moved to Indochina in 1949 to try to interest the French Armée de l’Air in buying Hiller Helicopters for the evacuation of wounded in their colonial war with the Viet Minh, and was awarded the Croix de Guerre for rescuing four men under mortar fire. He managed to sell eight Hillers to the French, his first financial coup, but threw in his lot with a group of ex-SS mercenaries who were leaving the Foreign Legion to join a pirate whaling fleet operated by Aristotle Onassis.
For four whaling seasons Bristow flew underpowered and unreliable helicopters up to 100 miles out over the Antarctic Ocean, on one occasion surviving only by landing on an iceberg to sit out a snowstorm when his rotor blade iced up. His second financial coup came in 1953 when he sold the patents for a helicopter-borne humane killer for whales to the Netherlands Whaling Company, although it was banned by the International Whaling Commission the following year.
By then Bristow had moved into oil exploration support, having met the legless fighter ace Douglas Bader, who was in charge of Shell Oil’s aviation interests worldwide. Starting in the Persian Gulf in 1955, Bristow Helicopters expanded across the world, and by 1959 Bristow was a tax exile in Bermuda. There he was tracked down by Freddie Laker, who wanted to buy Bristow Helicopters on behalf of Air Holdings, a joint venture between blue-chip companies including P&O, Lord Cayzer’s British & Commonwealth, Eagle Star and Lazards which included the private airline British United Airways. Bristow was happy to sell a stake in order to get access to friendly capital, but their valuations of the company were £67,000 apart. Both gambling men, they settled the issue by tossing a coin at a lunch after which Bristow’s accountant George Fry needed medical treatment. Bristow won. On the proceeds he was able to build a substantial home and buy two estates in Surrey, one of which, Baynards, became renowned as one of the finest shoots in England and attracted sheikhs, captains of industry and oil company executives.
Bristow Helicopters continued to expand at remarkable pace, with Bristow gambling everything on the success of North Sea gas and oil exploration and seeing his risk amply rewarded. In 1968 he took over as chief executive of British United Airways and restored it to profitability, before selling it to Caledonian Airways three years later and returning to Bristow Helicopters.
Always inclined to brinkmanship in industrial and commercial relations, he resigned in 1985 in an argument with Lord Cayzer over Bristow’s offer of a seat on the board to Bobby Suharto, son of the Indonesian President. Cayzer arranged to buy Bristow out, leaving him with no financial interest in the company he had founded.
The following year Bristow, a staunch Conservative Party supporter who had provided helicopters free to Margaret Thatcher during election campaigns, mounted a takeover bid for Westland Helicopters, but the bid foundered when he discovered a £41 million government loan that had not been declared in the company’s books. In a bewildering series of political machinations, Westland was instead acquired by the American company Sikorsky, leading to the resignation of two Cabinet ministers, Michael Heseltine and Leon Brittan. At one of several parliamentary inquiries into the deal Bristow claimed that establishment figures had twice offered him a knighthood in return for help smoothing the affair. He was not knighted.
Bristow could be terrifying in a rage and had a reputation for sacking people on a whim, but many of his pilots and executives stayed with him for decades. He was loyal and generous to those who had worked for him and retained the friendship of his workforce to the end of his life. He continued to invent and innovate, building a rapid transit vehicle for town centres in the late 1980s and winning the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for Agricultural Innovation for creating water beds for dairy cows, which he licensed profitably to Dunlop.
After his departure, Bristow Helicopters passed through several hands before being bought out by the American giant Offshore Logistics Inc. Bristow was gratified when the American multinational changed its own name to Bristow Group because, according to its president, William Chiles, the name was “solid gold” in the oil industry worldwide. The company remains as significant player in the world of helicopters.

John Samuel Fay 1921-2021

John Samuel Fay was born in Brazil in 1921 and brought up in New Zealand until the age of nine when he came to England.
He was educated at Bradfield College and went straight from there to join the Fleet Air Arm in 1940. His training was on Miles Magisters,Fairey Batlles and then on to Swordfish and Albacores. He was appointed to 832 Squadron in HMS Victorious and operated in the Arctic and the Mediterranean. He also had a short spella Manston operating in the English Channell. The Victorious crossed the Atlantic at the end of 1942 and after some modifications joined the US fleet in the Pacific. In the meanwhile 832 Squadron converted to Grumman Avengers and had the distinction of being the firts British squadron to operate from an American carrier,which was the USS Saratoga.
After returning from the pacific he joined the Sevice Trial Unit at Crail until being appointed to the first helicopter course in Britain at Hanworth in March 1944.

After the war he joined the British European Helicopter Unit, which acrried out pioneering work such as mail carrying,passenger carrying,instrument flying and pilot training.

On joining Westland aircraft as a test pilot and instructor he flew the aircraft being produced thre such as the Dragonfly,Whirlwind,Bell 47-B3-1,Widgeon and Wessex,plus the Hughes 269. He also trained some 300 service and civil pilots from Britain and foreign countries. He demonstrated several Westland aircraft at the Farnborough Airshows in th 1950's and 1960's.

He has publised several books on helicopters,notably The Helicopter. History.Piloting and how it flies.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Keith Hartley

Saturday, November 03, 2007

RADM James H. Flatley III,USN(Ret) 1934-

RADM James H. Flatley III, USN (Ret) was a 1956 graduate from the Naval Academy, RADM Flatley commanded both Fighter Squadron VF-31 and the USS Saratoga. As a Lieutenant he won the admiration of the aviation community by demonstrating how Air Force C-130 transports could land and take off from carrier decks. . Flatley made not one, but 29 “Touch and Go’s” and 21 “Full Stop Landings” on the carrier USS Forrestal. He flew 344 combat mission in Vietnam, and in an outstanding career as a Naval aviator, earning the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross, among many U.S. and foreign awards.

When Lt.James H. Flatley III was told about his new assignment, he thought somebody was pulling his leg: "Operate a C-130 off an aircraft carrier? Somebody's got to be kidding, " he said. But they weren't kidding. In fact, the Chief of Naval Operations himself had ordered a feasibility study on operating the big propjet aboard the Norfolk-based Forrestal. The Navy was trying to find out whether they could use the big Hercules as a sort of "super-COD" - a "Carrier Onboard Delivery aircraft". The airplane then used was the Grumman C-1 Trader, a twin engine bird with a limited payload and only a 300-mile range. If a carrier is operating in mid-ocean it has no "on board delivery" system to fall back on and must come nearer land before taking aboard even urgently needed items. The Hercules was stable and reliable with a long cruising range and a high payload.

The aircraft, a KC-130F refueler transport (BuNo 149798), on loan from the Marines, was delivered October 8. Lockheed's only modification to the original plane was to install an improved anti-skid braking system, remove refueling pods form the wings and install a smaller nose-landing gear orifice.
"The big worry was whether we could meet the maximum sink rate of nine feet per second," Flatley said. As it turned out, the Navy was amazed to find they were able to better this mark by a substantial margin. In addition to Flatley, crewmen consisted of Lt.Cmdr. W.W. Stovall, co-pilot; ADR-1 E.F. Brennan, flight engineer and Lockheed engineering flight test pilot Ted H. Limmer, Jr., safety pilot. The initial seaborn landings, on October30, 1963, were made into a 40-knot wind. Altogether, the crew successfully negotiated 29 touch-and-go landings, 21 unarrested full stop landings and 21 unassisted take-offs at gross weights of 85,000 pounds up to 121,000 pounds. At 85,000 pounds, the KC-130Fcame to a complete stop within 267 feet, about twice the aircraft's wing span! The Navy was delighted to discover that even with the maximum load, the plane used only 745 feet for take-off and 460 feet for landing roll. The short landing roll resulted from close coordination between Flatley and Jerry Daugherty, the carrier's landing signal officer. Daugherty, later to become a captain and assigned to the Naval Air Systems Command, Lockheed's Ted Limmer, who checked out fighter pilot Flatley in the C-130, stayed on for some of the initial touch and go and full-stop landings. "The last landing I participated in, we touched down about 150 feet from the end, stopped in 270 feet more and launched from that position, using what was left of the deck. The plane's wingspan cleared the Forrestal's flight deck "island" control tower by just under 15 feet as the plane roared down the deck on a specially painted line. Lockheed-Georgia's chief engineer, Art E. Flock was aboard to observe the testing.
"The sea was pretty big that day. I was up on the captain's bridge. I watched a man on the ship's bow and that bow must have gone up and down 30 feet." The speed of the shop was increased 10 knots to reduce yaw motion and to reduce wind direction. Thus, when the plane landed, it had a 40 to 50 knot wind on the nose. "That airplane stopped right opposite the captain's bridge," recalled Flock. "There was cheering and laughing. Thereon the side of the fuselage, a big sign had been painted on that said, "LOOK MA, NO HOOK." From the accumulated test data, the Navy concluded that with the Hercules, it would be possible to lift 25,000 pounds of cargo 2,500 miles and land it on a carrier. Even so, the idea was considered a bit too risky for the C-130 and the Navy elected to use a smaller CoD aircraft. For his effort the Navy awarded Flatley the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Col Ken Collins 'Dutch 21 ' 1929-2022

Ken Collins was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, the home of Fort Leavenworth.Across the Missouri River from Fort Leavenworth is Park University where he attended for two years and joined the Naval Air Reserves. During the summer of 1950, he applied for the Air Force pilot’s training. He was sent to Goodfellow AFB, Texas for Basic Flight Training in January 1951. He completed Advanced Pilot’s Training and was commissioned at Vance AFB, OK on 9 February 1952. In late May 1952, He completed F-80 Jet Transition at Moody AFB, GA, volunteered for Korea and was transferred to Shaw AFB, SC, 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron for Combat Crew Training School in the RF-80. He arrived at K-14 (Kimpo Air Base, Korea) in mid August 1952. By March 1953, he had checked out in the RF-80A, the F-80C and the RF-86A and had flown 113 combat missions while in the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (The Cottonpickers).

His new stateside assignment was back to the 18th TRS at Shaw AFB, SC as an Instructor Pilot in the RF-80 and the RF-84F. In October 1955, he was transferred to 10th TRWg, 38th TRS at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany as an Instructor Pilot and Flight Commander in RF-80 and the RF-84F. In 1957, he was reassigned to the Military Advisory Group (MAG) at Erding AB, Germany as an Instructor Pilot with the German Air Force Waffenschule 50 (Weapons School 50). In 1959, he returned to Shaw AFB, SC to the 20th TRS (RF-101) as a Flight Commander and Operations Officer.
In 1960, he was contacted by the USAF Office of NASA requesting that he volunteer for testing for a classified space program. This evolved into the highly classified A-12 Oxcart Program. His first flight in the A-12 was on 6 February 1963. The A-12 experimental test phase lasted through the first months of 1967 followed by the operational deployment to Okinawa. He flew 13 A-12 combat missions being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Intelligence Star from the Central Intelligence Agency. The A-12 program was cancelled and he elected an assignment to the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (SAC) at Beale AFB, CA to fly the SR-71 “Blackbird”. He became the 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron Operations Officer, an Instructor Pilot and Test Pilot in the SR-71.

When promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1970, he was made the 1st SRS Commander and after promotion to Colonel was selected to be the 9th SR Wing Deputy Commander for Operations in 1972. Two years later he was reassigned to Headquarters, 15th Air Force, March AFB, California and retired as Deputy Chief of Intelligence in 1980.
His Military Awards include Silver Star, Intelligence Star, Legion of Merit, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Air Medals, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Viet Nam Service Medal. He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Edwards AFB Historical Test Flight Foundation

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Col. Ronald 'Jack' Layton 1927-2013 'Dutch 27'

Jack Layton was born in 1927 and raised in the White Mountains region of Arizona. His interest in aviation began at a very young age. Too young for military service during WWII, Jack enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Aviation Cadets program in 1950 in order to learn to fly
After earning his silver wings, Jack was assigned to the 79th Fighter Squadron of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing, and it was not long before Jack was forced to bail out of an airplane, the first of three emergency bailouts over his career. Jack spent the next eight years or so flying Republic F-84s at Shaw AFB in South Carolina, Langley AFB in Virginia, and Woodbridge AFB in England. He then flew North American F-89s and McDonnell F-101s at Hamilton AFB in California. It was during this time that Jack had his second bailout ,ejecting from an F-101B out over the Gulf of .
For some military pilots, two emergency bailouts over a career would be exciting enough, but for Jack the excitement was just beginning. In the early 1960s, he was selected for screening to join a top secret CIA program called Project Oxcart. Project Oxcart was developed after a perceived need to replace the Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance airplane. The U-2 dated from as far back as 1952, when development on the aircraft began under the direction of a CIA initiative headed by Richard M. Bissell. Within just a few years of U-2 operational flights over the Soviet Union, CIA officials found that a replacement was needed, one that could fly higher and much faster. A very competitive race between Convair and Lockheed erupted to design the U-2's replacement. By 1960 Lockheed was given the green light to produce Kelly Johnson's radical new design, designated the Archangel 11, or A-11. This was later changed to A-12 when the aircraft underwent structural changes to decrease its radar signature. The A-12 was highly advanced for its time, designed to cruise at three times the speed of sound at over 90,000 feet.
Pilots for the Oxcart Project had to meet a very demanding set of CIA and Air Force specifications. Air Force files were screened for possible candidates that were qualified in the newest high performance jet fighters, emotionally stable, and extremely well motivated. They had to be between 25 and 40 years of age, less than six feet tall, and weigh no more than 175 pounds. By November of 1961 the initial five pilots were selected, and by February 1963 another eleven were picked by the Agency. Jack was in the second group. He was sent to Groom Lake, Nevada, better known as Area 51, for intensive flight-testing of the new airplane.
Jack was brought in very early on the A-12 program, the A-12 being the forerunner of the SR-71 Blackbird. He tested it for a little over four years before they became operationally ready.
By 1966 the A-12 was ready for operations, but it would be some time before actual missions were flown. During those same years the A-12 was being test flown, development of the SR-71 reconnaissance plane and YF-12 interceptor were well underway. While the A-12 was a CIA aircraft flown by Air Force pilots under contract with the CIA, the SR-71 was a less sophisticated airplane than the A-12, but with the same reconnaissance mission, only under Air Force control. The YF-12 was developed as a missile-carrying interceptor for the Air Defense Command of the Air Force, but only two prototypes were completed and no orders were made. Jack had the opportunity to fly all three aircraft over his career.
In May 1967 Jack was selected to fly one of three of the twelve A-12s manufactured by Lockheed to Kadena airfield at Okinawa for Project Black Shield. Project Black Shield had a number of purposes, foremost being reconnaissance flights over Southeast Asia, North Korea, and the Soviet Union. A secondary purpose was the permanent establishment of an Air Force base on Okinawa. The rest of that year was spent flying missions over North Vietnam. A year later, Jack flew the last known mission ever flown by an A-12 on May 8, 1968. The last mission of the A-12 was flying over Wonsan harbor looking for the Navy ship USS Pueblo that the North Koreans had captured earlier that year. That was the last operational mission of the A-12.
Jack returned to the U.S. and on June 26, 1968 was awarded the CIA "Intelligence Star for Valor" for his service during the Black Shield project. Jack spent the next three years flight-testing SR-71s and the two YF-12s, which had been turned over to NASA for testing at Edwards AFB. Jack spent six months flying the NASA planes, and it was during this time that he experienced his third emergency bailout. In June of 1971 whilst flying a regular mission for NASA his aircraft had a bad explosion in the right engine nacelle. The right engine caught fire and burned fiercely, which resulted in him having to eject .