Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Larry Walker

Larry was a test pilot with McDonnell Douglas in St Louis for 25 years and tested many aircraft ranging from the slatted F-4, F-18 (full scale development), AV-8B (full scale development), AV-8B’s digital engine control system, F-15 S/MTD and ACTIVE programs, F-15E high angle of attack and spin tests, and the X-36, a remotely piloted, tailless, high angle of attack research aircraft.

Larry is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots; he was formerly a Marine pilot and military test pilot. His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross with Gold Star and 13 Strike/Flight Air Medals for combat action during the Vietnam War.

He has given 10 presentations to the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and authored 12 articles for the McDonnell-Douglas Product Support Digest. Most recently, he was the Lead Author and Editor of the V/STOL Chapter in the SETP Guide to Critical and Exploratory Flight Testing

Derek J. Whitehead AFC 1925-1989

Derek Whitehead (Chief Test Pilot) and Bernard Watson (Head of Flight Test) after the maiden flight of the Blackburn NA39 on April 30th 1958.

Derek Whitehead qualified as a pilot in the RAF in May 1945,three months later he transferred to the Royal Navy. His service including a wide variety of types of aircraft. He took the ETPS course in 1954 and the following year was appointed to the Naval Test Squadron at Boscombe Down where he flew 41 different types and evaluated the Scimitar from the first protytype and deck landing assesement through the CA release. He was awarded the AFC for this work.

He was a Lt-Cdr on a permanent commission before retiring from the Navy to join Blackburn Aircraft. Was appointed Chief Test Pilot and flew the maiden flight of the Blackburn NA39.

Tony Fairbrother 1926-2004

Tony Fairbrother was a flight-test engineer on board the world’s first jet airliner, the de Havilland DH106 Comet 1, the aircraft which doubled the cruising speed and altitude of conventional propeller-driven airliners.

The prototype Comet 1, designed and built in secret by the de Havilland Aircraft Company at Hatfield, flew in 1949. Aged 23, Fairbrother was responsible for managing the flight testing and certification programme. He was already an accomplished aerodynamicist and flight test engineer, with air experience in the Mosquito, Hornet, Dove, Ghost Lancaster, Chipmunk and other aircraft. He provided an invaluable link between the test pilots, led by John Cunningham, and the design and aerodynamics departments led by R. E. Bishop and R. M. Clarkson.

During 30 years as head of the Hatfield flight development team, Fairbrother managed the air testing and certification of more than 15 new types of civil and military aircraft and their developments.

Anthony James Fairbrother was born in Coventry in 1926. He was educated at Bablake School, Melton Mowbray Grammar School and the de Havilland Aeronautical Technical School.

In 1948, after spells in the de Havilland design and aerodynamics departments, he was appointed inaugural member of the company’s new aero flight test department. Over the next four decades, three of them as head of flight testing and development, he was responsible for organising and managing all the flight test programmes needed to verify the compliance of new aircraft with design and airworthiness requirements.

Fairbrother proved a master of this technically challenging and often sensitive work, earning the confidence of test pilots, designers and government airworthiness inspectors. During one particularly hectic period in the early 1950s he was managing the simultaneous development of half a dozen or more new aircraft types — Comets 1, 2 and 3, Vampire Night Fighter, DH110, Dove Mk8, and Herons 1 and 2.

The work required the careful management of risk in the testing of aircraft to their limits. As a new boy, while recording Mosquito diving speeds and stresses, he had unconsciously succumbed to anoxia at high altitude. He woke up at low level to the sound of a loud bang and the voice of test pilot John Derry complaining that the radar nose had blown off and they were going home. He later recalled: “Unfortunately the oxygen selector was in a different place from that of the old model I was used to, and instead of turning the oxygen to ‘high’ I had turned it to ‘off’.”

Though Fairbrother never had to use a parachute, he once accidentally pulled his ripcord while inside a Mosquito, emerging after landing draped in white silk, to the cheers of the ground crew.

It is hard now to appreciate the charisma of the Comet, which in technology terms was the Concorde or space shuttle of its day. After the prototype’s first flight in 1949, Fairbrother memorably observed: “The world changed as our wheels left the ground.” He was proud that since then about 17,000 jet airliners have revolutionised world commerce, business, communications, diplomacy, leisure and personal travel. Another 15,000 are expected to be built in the next 20 years.

During a negative-g manoeuvre in an early Comet test, Fairbrother observed a bag of lead ballast disappearing down a cabin-floor hatch into the flying control mechanism. He and another crewmember rushed to free it before the aileron and elevator cables jammed.

Fairbrother played a leading part in the national effort to recover from the 1954 Comet 1 structural-fatigue disasters, managing the flight testing of the new modified Comets 3, 4, 4B and 4C. He was particularly proud of the Comet 4, which in 1958 launched the world’s first transatlantic jet services before Boeing and went on to give its customers a quarter-century of safe and commercially successful passenger service. Today the Comet 4 flies on in the shape of the RAF Nimrod maritime reconnaisance aircraft, the Mk4 model of which flew recently.

In 1951, at the height of Comet 1 testing, the de Havilland chief test pilot John Cunningham chose Fairbrother as his crew for the first flight of the DH110, the advanced jet fighter ordered as the Sea Vixen for the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers. He again picked Fairbrother for the 1962 first flight of the de Havilland DH121 Trident, the fastest of all subsonic jet airliners to that date, and the first with automatic blind landing. When Fairbrother’s friend and colleague Tony Richards was killed in the DH110 at the 1952 Farnborough Air Show, he and Cunningham set about testing the prototype to its limits. They performed repeated high-speed dives and pullouts to provide structural data for the accident investigation.

Fairbrother led the Hatfield flight test department throughout the difficult years of regime-change, from de Havilland to Hawker Siddeley to British Aerospace and Airbus. From 1972 to 1974 he was seconded to Airbus in Toulouse to help to organise the flight-testing of the European airliner consortium’s first product, the A300. The wings of this aircraft were a British responsibility, as they have been on all the 3,000-plus Airbuses built since.

First and foremost an aerodynamicist and expert in performance, stability and control, Fairbrother was also competent in systems, structures, instrumentation, electronics and, from the early 1950s, computers. This technical versatility and practical hands-on experience qualified him ideally for the finale to his career. His boss at BAe Hatfield, Charles (now Sir Charles) Masefield, appointed him project manager of the BAe 146-300, a 16ft (4.87m) stretch of the 146 prototype, increasing passenger seats from 70 to 100. Masefield ordered: “It is up to you to make sure that the whole team enjoys this very rare opportunity to revert to the old-fashioned way of doing things — quickly.”

Nine months later, on May 1, 1987, on schedule and on budget, the 146-300 was ready for its first flight. Fairbrother was surprised and delighted when, in the paint shop, he discovered that his team had secretly arranged with the Civil Aviation Authority for the aircraft to be registered with his initials AJF.

After G-OAJF’s first flight, when someone said: “It didn’t even need trimming,” Fairbrother gave his famous impersonation of Victor Meldrew: “Well, of course. We are professionals.” He had brought up several new generations of flight-test engineers and pioneered the application of computers to flight-data recording and analysis. He was a chartered engineer and a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

John Blair 1916-2003

After a wartime career in RAF Coastal Command, after which he took part in a number of air relief operations, John Blair joined Scottish Airlines and, later, Scottish Aviation, where he spent more than 20 years as the company’s chief test pilot. In that time he was involved in the development flying of the company’s best-known aircraft, before Scottish Aviation was absorbed into British Aerospace in 1978. Among these were the company’s Pioneer and Twin Pioneer, and the Jetstream and the Bulldog, originally designed by Handley Page and Beagle respectively, but taken over and developed extensively by Scottish Aviation.

John Blair was born in 1916 at Cottingham on the outskirts of Hull. He was educated at Riley High School and Kingston upon Hull Technical College, from where, in 1933 he joined the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Company at Brough, Yorkshire.

There he worked until the outbreak of war, when he joined the RAF and trained as a pilot. Posted to Coastal Command he eventually became the captain of a B24 Liberator, flying on long-range anti-submarine patrols. He also qualified as a flying instructor and had a tour of duty training pilots in Canada.

Demobilised in 1946, Blair left Blackburn Aircraft — as the company had become — and entered the London School of Air Navigation, where he took his navigator’s civil licence. In 1947 he joined Scottish Airlines, based at Prestwick under the aegis of Scottish Aviation. For the next eight years he was involved in a wide variety of commercial contract flying, in Douglas DC3s, converted Liberators and Avro Yorks. Among his assignments were relief flights to India and Pakistan during partition in 1947. He was also involved in flying into Berlin as part of the airlift that supplied the city during the Soviet land blockade for 11 months from June 1948.

In 1955 he joined Scottish Aviation and was soon involved in the test flying of its own aircraft, as well as those it manufactured under licence or was in the process of overhauling. In the first category was Scottish Aviation’s first home-grown project, the single-engined Pioneer, which was bought by the RAF as a communications and casualty evacuation aircraft. From 1956 he was involved in the development flying of the company’s second design, the Twin Pioneer. A rugged twin-engined short takeoff and landing general purpose aircraft, the “Twin Pin” again found its best customer in the RAF as a troop and paratroop carrier, though Blair also tested it in air ambulance, freight transport, photographic survey and supply-dropping versions, in which it served a number of other operators in 20 countries.

In 1970 the production rights of the Bulldog, a single-seater light aircraft design from Beagle Aircraft, were acquired by Scottish Aviation after Beagle went into receivership. An intensive marketing campaign, launched with the RAF and other customers in mind, involved a great deal of development and demonstration flying, and Blair flew the Bulldog for several successive summers at the Paris and Farnborough airshows.

A second major project taken over by Scottish Aviation was the Jetstream twin-engined short-haul airliner, whose production was taken over by Scottish Aviation in 1973 after its design company, Handley Page, had gone into receivership. But before this could happen, Scottish Aviation needed to lay its hands on a Jetstream for evaluation purposes.

As it happened the only available model was in the United States and Blair went out to bring it home. Since the Jetstream did not have the range to fly the Atlantic, this involved stages via Narssarssuaq, in southern Greenland, and Reykjavik, Iceland. Only Blair’s navigating instincts brought the Jetstream safely into Narssarssuaq, after it was discovered that the aircraft had been flying on the wrong course for three hours since the compass had failed. A hasty crew consultation over maps was ended by his banking decisively to starboard and setting a course which brought the Jetstream right up the fiord approach to this remotest of airfields.

Blair retired as chief test pilot in 1979, by which time Scottish Aviation had become a division of British Aerospace, and the Bulldog and the Jetstream designated BAe aircraft. He continued to work for the company’s marketing division and also to fly, often taking to the air in a Bulldog.

He was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air in 1974, and in 1979 received the R. P. Alston Medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society for his contribution to the development of the Bulldog.

His funeral in Ayr on November 6 was graced by an aerial tribute paid by two Bulldogs, one of which, G-AXIG, he had himself flown. This aircraft, piloted by Jim McTaggart, swooped over the cortege and performed a wingtip salute followed by a roll at low level. Fittingly, G-AXIG is owned by the Duke of Hamilton, who had been one of Blair’s test pilots at Scottish Aviation in the 1970s.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Harry N.D Bailey AFRAeS 1918-2004

Rolls-Royce Test Pilots (left to right) Cliff Rogers,Harry Bailey,Harvey Heyworth,Jim Heyworth,Andy McDowell and Roy Barnard.
Harry Bailey took his engineering degree with honours at Hull Technical College and joined Rolls Royce in 1938 as an engineering apprentice,later working on aero-engine development.

He joined the Derby branch of the RAFVR in October 1938,and was called up on the outbreak of war. He served in 54 Fighter Squadron in 1940 and 1941 and was seconded to Rolls-Royce for flying duties in 1942 with the rank of Squadron Leader.

He was appointed Senior Liaison pilot in 1947 and Assistant Chief Test Pilot in 1951. On the retirement of Harvey Heyworth he was appointed Rolls-Royce Chief Test Pilot in 1954,serving in this position until 1955 when he was succeeded by Jim Heyworth.
He had flown forty seven differnt aircraft types and in the course of his duties with Rolls-Royce,he visited sixty countries around the world.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

William 'Bill' H Else 1921-1985

Bill Else started flying in 1941 when he joined the RAF as a pilot. He trained in the USA before joining 182 Squadron; flying Hawker Typhoons on ground-attack missions to France and the Low Countries. In March 1944, Else joined the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at RAF Boscombe Down where he performed trials with ground-attack rocket projectiles. He followed this with a move to the A&AEE’s ‘A’ squadron as a test pilot, flying 49 different types in 18 months. Subsequently, Else passed through the Empire Test Pilot’s School as part of No. 5 Course, before joining Armstrong-Whitworth as a test pilot. A successful career with Armstrong-Whitworth saw him flying all of their post-war jets, including the AW.52 flying wing and their sub-contracted Meteors and Hawker Sea Hawks. He rose to be Deputy Chief Test Pilot.When Armstrong-Whitworth’s Baignton factory closed in the mid-sixties, Else transferred to Hawker Siddeley in Manchester where he test flew Vulcans, Shackletons, 748s and Nimrods. He received a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air in 1967. Retiring from Hawker Siddeley in 1976 after 32 years as a test pilot, Else joined Air Anglia as both Fleet Manager and Training Captain until his retirement in 1982. Flight Lieutenant William Henry Else passed away in 1985.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cyril Frank Uwins OBE AFC 1896-1972

Cyril Uwins signature 5th from top on r/h side of menu

Bristol Beaufighter
Bristol Bulldog

Cyril Uwins was born in 1896,and was educated at Whitgift School,Croydon. After active service in France with the London Irish Rifles he joined the Royal Flying Corps in the spring of 1916 and served with No43 and No54 Sqn's before being posted in 1917 to Farnborough for duty as a ferry pilot. Six months afterwards he formed a new flying school at Lake Down on Salisbury Plain,and later moved to No5 Aircraft Acceptance Park,which was stationed at Filton.

In August 1918 he joined the British Colonial Aeroplane Co Ltd (later to become the Bristol Aeroplane Co Ltd) as a test pilot,becoming Chief test pilot on his demobilisation from the RAF in 1919. He remained Chief pilot until the beginning of 1947 when he was appointed as assistant managing director of the Aircraft Division.

He was responsible for the testing of every Bristol aircraft to fly during the period from the Bristol Scout to the Type 170 Freighter in 1945,in all,he made 54 first flights. He became deputy chairman of the Bristol Aeroplane Company in 1957 and was also President of the Society of British Aircraft Constructors for 1956-57.

John D. Derry DFC 1921-1952

John Derry joined RAF in late 1939/ early 1940. He was initially a wireless operator/air gunner on 269Sqn flying Wellingtons and Hudsons frrom Wick in Scotland. He was selected for pilot training in canada in 1943, ended the war flying Typhoons.

He first joined Supermarine as a test pilot before moving to DeHavilland in late October 1947.
He was the first British pilot to exceed the speed of sound in the UK on 6 September 1948 in in a DH 108 research aircraft.At the Farnborough airshow in 1952, John Derry flying a DH110 with observer, Anthony Richards dived from a height of 40,000 feet towards Farnborough, causing sonic booms. As the DH110 swept low over the aerodrome the crowd's admiration changed to horror. Without warning the aircraft broke up, its cockpit fell onto the runway and two engines hurtled through the air, hit the ground and bounced into a section of the watching public. Twenty-six were killed and 65 injured as burning debris continued to fall from the sky. Derry and Richards were killed immediately.

Edward .A 'Teddy' Tennant DFC 1924-1981

S/L E.A Tennant joined the RAF in 1940 and served with No 256 and 153 Squadrons on Defiants and Hurricanes. Later he transferred to Typhoons and flew 450hrs on ground attack operations. He was awarded the DFC in 1945 and by the end of the war had completed some 250 operations sorties. He was posted to 'B' Squadron at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down testing heavy aircraft and trainers. In 1953 he joined Folland Aircraft as Chief Test Pilot and was responsible for the development and flight testing of the Folland Midge and Gnat light fighter, both of which he made the maiden flights.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Christopher 'Chris' J. Yeo OBE,AFC FRAeS 1946-

Chris Yeo joined the RAF in 1965 and trained to be a pilot. He served with the RAF for 13years flying a variety of aircraft. In 1973 he qualified as an IRE while flying the F4 Phantom as a member of 54(F) Squadron. He joined the Phantom OCU in 1974 and was used as a tactics instructor and as an IRE.
In 1975 he went to the Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS) and trained as a test pilot,graduating with the prize for best pilot on the course and sharing the prize for the best preview. He worked as a service test pilot for the last 3 years of his service career,particpating in the early development programmes of the Tornado,Jaguar and Hawk. He was promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader.

He joined British Aerospace as an experimental test pilot in 1978 and worked with them until his retirement in 1997 from fast jet flying. During his time there he was progressively promoted to more senior positions, becoming Chief Test Pilot and eventually Director of Flight Operations.

He flew all variants of the Tornado,Jaguar and Hawk. As well as flight expansion work he conducted system development and production tests. He was project test pilot for the Fly-by-wire Jaguar,Britains first longitudinally unstable aircraft and the first to use a full time digital flight control system. He made the first flight of this aircraft. He also flew a large proportion of the early flights trials of the Experimental Aircraft Programme (EAP) which succesfully demonstrated the new technologies proposed for the Eurofighter.

He particpated in the early development of the Eurofighter/EF2000,making the first flight of the British Aircraft DA2 in April 1994.

On leaving BAE Ssytems, he has worked for FRA flying the Falcon 20 on special mission tasks, instructed at ETPS and worked with Airbus Industrie testing the Airbus A340-500 and 340-600.

He has received many awards and honours during his career and is a member of SETP ad RAeS.