Wednesday, March 26, 2008

William 'Bill' Humble MBE 1911-1992

Bill Humble (right) with Sydney Camm

Bill Humble learned to fly at Marshall's Flying School at Cambridge in 1929.Trained as a mining engineer, and employed in the coal industry,his pre-war flying was done entirely for fun. He appeared at social gatherings and air-race meetings in his Speed Six Hawk. He was on the Reserve of Air Force Officers,and was one of the original members of No504 Special Reserve Squadron. When war broke out he was called up and spent 10 weeks at No11 FTS at Shawbury as an instructor. However, Government regulations caught up with him and he was hauled back to the mines. It took 11 months for him to persuade the authorities that he was more use in a cockpit than in a coal pit!

He was instructed to go to Scotland on flying duties,but on his way there he called in at Hawkers and never got any farther. It was arranged between the RAF and MAP that he should join the Hawker Company as a test pilot. At first he helped with production testing of Hurricanes and Typhoons only,and then lent a hand with prototype development under Ken Seth Smith (who was killed in 1942).

He took an active part in the development of the Tempest and Fury and from then on would make the first flights of any new aircraft which emanated from the Hawker drawing boards. He flew the prototype P.1040, (VP401) on the 2nd September 1947.