Friday, May 30, 2008

RADM H C N 'Nick' Goodhart CB 1919-2011

Nick Goodhart, ETPS Class 4 Graduate 1946. He is 7th from left on the middle row between Dicky Mancus and Peter Lawrence Westland Wyvern with Mirror Deck landing system which was invented by Nick Goodhart Drawing of the Mirror deck landing system signed by the inventor Nick Goodhart.

Hilary Charles Nicholas Goodhart attended Dartmouth Naval College.He completed his naval engineering training at the RN Engineering College, Keyham just as WW2 was getting under way and gained his watch keepers ticket in HMS Formidable in the Eastern Mediterranean, an area of considerable warlike activity with the German Wehrmacht advancing steadily south towards North Africa. While engaged in evacuating the British Army from Crete (they were driven out by overwhelming attack) Formidable took two 1000 Lb bombs. One went off in the Seamens’ Heads and blew an enormous hole in the starboard bow right down to the water line but the other one did not go off and the ship was able to creep back to Alexandria where a temporary patch was built before going to USA (south about round Africa) for permanent repairs. While in the USA Goodhart was transferred to HMS Dido, also repairing in the USA, which sailed from New York on Dec 7, 1941 the day of the Japanese attack on the US Navy at Pearl Harbour. Dido went straight back to the Eastern Mediterranean even going into Malta on the way, so much improved was the UK position even though the Army had not at that time yet succeeded in halting Rommel’s eastward advance in North Africa towards Egypt and our base in Alexandria. Their main role in the eastern Med was to try and fight small convoys (4 fast merchantmen which had come up through the Suez canal) through to Malta.

Having volunteered for flying training Goodhart left Dido and made his own way back to UK to do his flying medicals and thence by fast liner to Canada to do his flying training. After doing his fighter pilot training in UK he finally emerged as a squadron pilot in 896 squadron operating variously off HM Ships Ameer, Empress and Khedive in the Indian Ocean in support of the Army in driving the Japanese out of Burma.

Shortly after the war ended (8 Aug, 1945) a signal was received from the Admiralty instructing Goodhart to return to UK which he did by thumbing a lift in an RAF freight aircraft. Once in the UK he learned that he had been selected to do the Empire Test Pilots Course and so began a period of some five years test flying. It was a dream come true and he seized the opportunity to fly as many new types as possible ending up with just on one hundred.While taking part in the deck-landing trials of some of the new naval aircraft types coming through Boscombe Down at that time he had become increasingly aware of the shortcomings of the deck landing system then in use which involved another pilot standing on the stern of the carrier and signaling to the approaching aircraft whatever he thought were errors in the approach. In the old days of the piston-engined aircraft this had proved satisfactory but with the new aircraft and particularly the jets coming into service approach speeds were significantly higher and, in the case of the jets throttle response was notably slower. Something had to change so Goodhart invented the mirror-sight deck landing system. The device was first introduced in the Royal Navy in 1954 and by the US Navy in 1955. It greatly increased the safety when landing on an aircraft carrier. There was also a saving in arrester gear units and barriers – Ark Royal needed only four wires and one (emergency only) barrier. The reduction in weight and the extra space that this conferred enabled more mess-decks to be fitted in, thus reducing congestion in living spaces. It was recorded that for US carriers, the landing accident rate fell from 35 per 10,000 landings in 1954 to 7 per 10,000 landings in 1957. The US Navy awarded him the Legion of Merit for his invention. He retired from the Royal Navy as a Rear Admiral in 1973.

In 1955 he climbed to 30,500 ft in USA and became the first British glider pilot to gain the international Diamond Badge. Later in 1955 he broke the British National Altitude Record in a Schweizer SGS 1-23 in California climbing to 11,500 m (37,050 feet). He was a member of the British team at all the World Championships from 1956 to 1968. In 1956 at Saint-Yan in France, he won, with Frank Foster as co-pilot, the World Gliding Two Seater Championship in a Slingsby Eagle. The US Soaring magazine noted that the only single seater to beat them was the single seat winner, Paul MacCready. In 1958 he finished in second place in the single seater competition at Leszno, Poland. He was British single-seater champion on three occasions, and in second place on four others. He finished first in the American Championships in 1955, though as foreigner could not be the US Champion. At Lasham on 10 May 1959 he declared a goal of Portmoak in Scotland and achieved a record goal flight of 579.36 km in a Slingsby Skylark 3 at an average speed of 90.7 km/h. This is still the UK 20 metre goal distance record and the speed record for a 500 km goal flight. Goodhart set up the project in 1966 to develop a glider called Sigma. After many problems, the only prototype flew in 1971. A modified version is still flying. He was awarded the Silver Medal by the Royal Aero Club in 1956. In 1972 he was award the Paul Tissandier Trophy by the FAI. This award recognizes "those who have served the cause of Aviation in general and Sporting Aviation in particular, by their work, initiative, devotion or in other ways".

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

G/Capt Sammy Wroath CBE AFC* 1909-1995

Gp Capt Wroath joined the RAF in 1925 as an engineering apprentice at Halton, transferring to flying duties in 1931. During most of his Service career he has been associated with test flying,
first as a test pilot and then, in 1943, when he had the responsibility of forming the Test Pilot's School at Boscombe Down, later to become the Empire Test Pilots' School. He subsequently did two tours of duty in the USA, the first as chief British test pilot responsible for liaison and flight
testing of American aircraft on behalf of this country, and the second in connection with operational proving schedules. From 1953 to 1957 Gp Capt Wroath was back at the ETPS as commandant, and on his retirement from the Service in the latter year he joined Blackburn & General Aircraft for liaison duties in connection with the NA.39. During his Service career he completed some 4,500 hours' flying on approximately 300 different types.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Woodward E.Burke 1914-1945

Woodward E.Burke in Brewster SB2 prototype

Vance Breese 1904-1973

Vance Breese was born in Keystone, WA, April 20, 1904. He states his education as, "Various engineering extension courses." With those, he spent his life in aviation. Between 1927-34 he was president of Breese Aircraft Company (which went through several iterations of geographic location, name and organizational structure during those years) and the Detroit Aircraft Company.

Two of his airplanes were famous. The Breese named "Aloha" took 2nd place in the 1927 Dole Race from California to Hawaii. It was painted yellow and red. The "Pabco Pacific Flyer" was also a participant in the Dole Race, but crashed upon takeoff. During 1933-34 he moved to California and worked for Northrop Corporation as test pilot. He demonstrated the Northrop Navy fighter, and performed test flights for Fokker. In 1937 he worked for Bennett Aircraft Corp. as VP and test pilot.

He was the test pilot at North American Aviation when the P-51 Mustang was developed and was its first test pilot on October 26, 1940.

Barton Traver 'Red' Hulse 1910-1993

Curtiss test pilots from left to right, BartonT 'Red' Hulse, Ed Elliott, Herb Fisher, H.L. Childs, William Webster and Robert Fausel. At the time this photo was taken, Childs was the Chief Test Pilot. Behind the group is one of the first Curtiss P-40B fighters to be delivered to the Air Corps.

Ronald Ward Harker OBE AE 1909-1990

Ronald Ward Harker was born at Tynemouth, where his father was chief medical officer for the Tyne ports. He was educated at Shrewsbury School and joined Rolls-Royce in 1925 as an engineering apprentice. In 1927 a visit to the Hendon Air Display gave him the impulse to fly. He joined Newcastle flying club in 1927. He finished his apprenticeship in 1929, but by that time the Depression was biting and there was no job for him at Rolls-Royce. With parental support he kept up his flying at the Lympne flying club in Kent, and in 1934 was invited back to Rolls-Royce on the aero-engine side. When Rolls-Royce formed its first test flight he became its first test pilot and was soon evaluating various types of RAF aircraft. He also joined No 504 City of Nottingham Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, based at Hucknall, where Rolls-Royce was soon to move its test flying.

When war came in 1939 he joined his squadron on a full-time basis, but in the spring of 1940, with the squadron ordered to France, he was ordered back to Rolls-Royce to resume test flying at Hucknall, liaising closely with the RAF. Harker was at Hucknall when, in April 1942, he received a telephone call from the CO of the RAF's Air Fighting Development Unit at Duxford, to tell him that they had acquired an Allison-engined Mustang and would he like to evaluate it? Having spent 30 minutes throwing the aircraft round the sky he reported that it closely resembled the Messerschmitt 109F, but with a Merlin 61 engine ought to prove much faster than that aircraft and the Spitfire V. The Air Ministry, however, wanted to put all the available Merlin 61s into the new Spitfire IX to combat the threat of the latest German fighter, the Focke Wulf 190, which was proving vastly superior to the Spitfire V in combat. There was therefore a good deal of concerted scepticism about Harker's observations. But he persisted and the first Merlin-engined Mustang flew in October 1942, giving the radical improvements in performance that he had predicted. News of the Merlin Mustang's performance spread like wildfire and was greeted as manna from heaven in Washington. Indeed, the Americans were the chief beneficiaries of Harker's initiative, since the new escort fighter enabled the USAAF to resume daylight bombing raids which had been discontinued, since the "invulnerable" B17 Flying Fortress had proved incapable of defending itself against the Luftwaffe's fighters.

Throughout the war Harker was involved in a variety of other projects for improving the performance of RAF aircraft. Improvements in superchargers increased the speed of the Spitfire; Merlins were put into the Whitley bomber; and - the greatest bomber success of all - the disastrous Vulture-engined Avro Manchester became the superlative Merlin-engined Lancaster. But the Mustang remains his supreme achievement. By the end of the war 15,582 of the aircraft had been built. Harker was appointed OBE and given the Air Efficiency Award (AE) for his wartime work.
After the war Harker continued his liaison work with the RAF, testing new types. In 1974 he moved to London as Rolls-Royce's aero-export manager and from 1957 as the company's military adviser. He retired from the firm in 1971 when it went bankrupt over the financial problems caused by the escalating cost of the RB211 engine for the Lockheed TriStar. Over the years he had spent an increasing amount of time in New Zealand, pursuing his passion for fishing - and flying - and he finally settled there with his second wife in 1993. He had his last flight in a Mustang in New Zealand in 1997 at the age of 88.

Ronnie Harker has his place in the history of aviation for the role he played in the evolution of the Mustang fighter into one of the great warplanes of history. The North American P-51 Mustang was originally built for the British Purchasing Commission and the early aircraft had many pleasing qualities but its Allison V-1710 engine gave it poor performance at higher altitudes and its range was somewhat short.he Mustang entered service with the RAF in 1941 but, because its performance did not challenge that of the latest marks of Spitfires, it was relegated to Army co-operation and recon work where it performed admirably. However, Ronnie Harker, RollsRoyce's senior test liaison pilot, was offered the opportunity to test the Mustang by the RAF. He liked the aircraft's handling qualities but not its engine, which did not have the performance to exploit the fighter's advanced aerodynamics. He was convinced the airplane would be another animal entirely if fitted with the Rolls-Royce Merlin.

Harker pressed strongly for the American engine to be replaced by the Merlin and, after a good deal of official reluctance, largely from the Air Ministry, he got his way. The result was a transformation. The Mustang's top speed went from 390 mph to 440 mph and the range from 450 miles to as much as 2000 with various configurations of drop tanks. A great escort fighter had been born and ever afterwards Harker was known as "the man who put the Merlin in the Mustang."

Lowery Lawson Brabham 1906-1981


Born in Troy, Alabama in June, 1906, Lowery Lawson Brabham learned to fly in 1930. He was Chief pilot of Montgomery School of Aeronautics until commissioned in U.S. Army Air Corps, 1932. He was recommended to industry as the most qualified test pilot for high altitude fighter program. He Joined Republic Aviation Corporation as test pilot in 1940.

While chief test pilot performed initial flight test in many aircraft, including the XP-47 Thunderbolt, XP-72 and XR-12 Rainbow. Recognized as outstanding pioneer in the art of engineering flight tests. Retired as Vice President, Sales, Republic Aviation in 1964.

Robert W. Fausel 1914-1998

Although Robert W. Fausel trained as a pursuit pilot, he never flew in combat -- at least not officially.Curtiss factory pilot, Bob Fausel, was able to shoot down a Japanese G4M Betty bomber in 1940 prior to the evacuation of Loi Wing when demonstrating the aircraft. Unfortunately, during that first pass his guns jammed and all of his ammunition was quickly spent. He was rewarded $1,000 by Chaing Kai Shek for his efforts.
But as a civilian test pilot, he paved the way for those who did in World War II by testing the hottest airplanes built by Curtiss-Wright.It was in C-W's P-40 Tomahawk that Mr. Fausel set a world dive record of 661 mph in April 1940 at Wright Field, Ohio, in a test to meet military contract requirements.

Herbert O Fisher 1909-1990

In World War II he went to the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations to train members of the Flying Tigers on C-46 transports and P-40 fighters. Although he was a civilian, Mr. Fisher flew scores of combat missions. President Franklin D. Roosevelt presented him the Air Force Air Medal in 1944, making him the first living civilian to receive the honor. Herbert O. Fisher was a test pilot for the Curtiss-Wright Corporation in engineering, flight testing, public relations and sales. As chief test pilot, Mr. Fisher tested more than 4,000 military aircraft and helped develop the reversible propeller for use as a brake. He worked for the Port Authority of New York for 23 years. As head of aviation-industry affairs, he evaluated requests for aircraft to use airports in the New York metropolitan region. He retired in 1975.

Henry Lloyd Child 1904-1970

Lloyd Child was a Naval Aviator from 1927-1952. He held the world altitude record in 1930 and in 1935 power dived a Curtiss Hawk 75 to 600 MPG and was labeled the man “faster than a bullet”. He joined Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Co. in 1926 and was responsible for development of the Curtiss Thrush and Falcon models. He worked for Lockheed from 1958-1968, then retired.

Curtiss factory test pilot Lloyd Child took the Curtiss P-36A for its first test flight on 13 May 1935 but reported that the aircraft did not handle all that well, and power from the engine was disappointing. The XR-1670-5 was totally unsatisfactory and it was temporarily replaced with an obsolete 700-hp P&W R-1535. Seven hundred horsepower was not enough for a plane like the Model 75 so the engine mount was redesigned and the airframe was fitted with a Wright XR-1820-39 single-row radial of 950-hp. Child felt that the extra real horsepower improved the handling and performance of the machine so, on 27 May, the aircraft was submitted to the Army's Material Division for testing.
The first production P-40 was flown on April 4, 1940 by Curtiss Chief Test Pilot Lloyd Child, and this batch of airplanes was delivered to the Air Corps between June 1st and October 15th of that year. The first three machines, in natural aluminum finish, went to Wright Field (Dayton, Ohio) for official Air Corps' tests; the rest were finished in overall olive drab with gray under-surfaces.

Friday, May 16, 2008

W/Cdr Harry Proctor 'Sandy' Powell AFC 1911-1986

W/Cdr Powell was born in Sussex in 1911 and was educated at Ardingly and at the Camborne School of Mines. After spending some years as aschoolmaster, he joined the RAF in 1936,and trained at No5 FTS at Sealand. On gaining his wings in 1937,he was posted to a light bomber Squadron at Hucknall flying Harts. He flew Blenheims in France at the beginning of the war before being posted to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down where he served from 1941 to 1943 as a test pilot, flying over 30 types.
He was then appointed as Deputy Commandant of the newly formed Empire Test Pilots School. In 1940, he left Boscombe Down to become Chief test pilot of Air Service Training Ltd,testing Yorks,Spitfires and Mosquitos. After periods of service as Chief Test Pilot at Percival Aircraft and the aviation division of Dunlops, Aviation division, for whom he completed 18months test flying he joined the Aircraft Division of British Lockheeds at Leamington,where he was Sales Manager.

He left flying to pursue the commercial side of Aviation,joining the Lockheed Hydraulic Brake Co at Leamington Spa in 1951.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Neil Williams 1934-1977

Neil Williams was a former Empire Test Pilot School graduate, military and civil test pilot(Handley Page) and 11 times British aerobatic champion, as well as European Champion and Captain of the British Aerobatic team from 1966 to 1977. In 1970 he performed an incredible feat of airmanship when he successfully crash landed a Zlin after a wing folded during aerobatic practice. He was killed when the Spanish built Heinkel he was ferrying to the UK crashed in bad weather into a hillside.

Capt Valentine Henry Baker MC DFC 1888-1942

Valentine Baker was born at Llanfairfechan in North Wales. When the Great War broke out, he enlisted as a dispatch rider, soon to be promoted to the rank of petty officer. In 1915, in the fighting on the beaches of Gallipoli, he was severely wounded by a bullet in the neck. The doctors considered that any operation to remove the bullet would be fatal, as it had lodged near the spinal cord. Baker told them to "leave it alone", and the bullet remained in the back of his neck until the day he died. It must have been a source of continuous discomfort, but he never complained of it - in fact, only his family and a few friends knew anything about it at all. Following this injury he was discharged as unfit, but was soon accepted by the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, becoming a second lieutenant before the year was out. In 1916, an opportunity came for an entry into aviation and he was posted to the School of Aero Flying at Reading for flying training. On 25 September, 1916, Baker graduated as a flying officer Royal Flying Corps. A month later he joined the famous 41 Squadron of the R.F.C., at Gosport, with which he was to do all his operational flying and win his Military Cross and later the Air Force Cross.
His first civilian flying job, as a representative of the Vickers-Armstrong Aircraft Company, took him out to the Dutch East Indies, where he subsequently became attached to the Dutch Naval and Military Air Forces in Java as a flying instructor. After three years, he returned to England, but was soon off again, this time to Chile, where once more he combined demonstrations of new Vickers aircraft with flying instruction. On return to England, Baker became flying instructor at the Lancashire Flying Club, which he helped to build up, then chief instructor at the London Aeroplane Club at Stag Lane Aerodrome, Edgware. Baker's last, and most important, teaching job came in 1929, when he opened a school and became chief pilot and instructor for Airwork Limited, at Heston Aerodrome.
Valentine Baker gave up his instruction flying in 1934 to join his friend James Martin in the formation of a new company, the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Ltd. The incomparable flying experience and skill possessed by Baker was of great importance in the development and flight testing of the Company's prototypes. His lessons attracted pupils from all over the world, and many well known public figures including the Duke of Windsor, the Duke of Kent, and Lord Londonderry, at that time Air Minister. Lady Drummond Hay, and the celebrated woman flier Amy Johnson were also two of his better known pupils.

A/Cdre Augustus Henry Orlebar CBE AFC* 1897-1943

4th from right is A.H Orlebar

Augustus Henry Orlebar was educated at Rugby and served as an Officer with 1st/5th Bedfordshire Regiment at Gallipoli in 1915 before transferring to the RFC for pilot training in 1916. From 17 Sep 1916 he served as a Flying Officer with No 19 Sqn RFC. (BE12, Spad VII – Western Front), 1917 No 44 Sqn RFC. (Camel – Hainault Farm), 20 Dec 1917 Flight Commander with No 73 Sqn RFC. (Camel – Western Front), in 1918 he served briefly as an Instructor, before returning to active service in Aug 1918 as a Flight Commander with No 43 Sqn. (Camel, Snipe – Western Front). He shot down seven enemy aircraft during the war.

After the First World War he served with the Aeroplane Experimental Station, Martlesham Heath before taking up a permanent commission with the RAF and at the same time relinquishing his commission as a Lieutenant in the Bedfordshire Regiment on 1 August 1919.

In December 1929 he became OC Flying Boat Development Flight, during which he set a new air speed record of 357.7mph and in May 1931 OC RAF High Speed Flight,which won the Schneider Trophy for Britain in 1929 and 1931 thus securing the trophy as a permamnet possession.

At the out break of the Second World War he held the appointment of Director of Flying Training and then joined the Air Staff, HQ Fighter Command in October 1940

On 22 Jul 1941 he became AOC, No 10 (Fighter) Group and at the time of his death he held the position of Deputy Chief of Combined Operations, which he attained on 2 March 1943.

Geoffrey Raoul de Havilland Jr OBE 1910-1946

Mosquito prototype

Geoffrey Raoul de Havilland Jr.( young D.H. as he was universally called) took over the de Havilland’s chief test pilot's position in October, 1937,when R. J. Waight unfortunately lost his life on the T.K.4. Being, however, the son of an illustrious father, Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, who designed, built and test flew his own aircraft from 1911 onwards, young Geoffrey can be said to have been '' in the industry'' from the very cradle. It is not generally known that Sir Geoffrey took his R.Ae.C. ticket No. 53 in February, 1911, on the second machine of his own design and construction, and that he has made many of the first flights on new D.H.types right up to the Moth Minor in 1938. Geoffrey's first flight is lost in the dim past, but certain it is that at the tender age of six he was flying with father at Hendon in a D.H. 6 (also known as the Clutching Hand).
When 18 years of age he left school and came to de Havillands as a premium apprentice for 4 years and learnt to fly on Moths at the firm's reserve training school. After spending two years in the drawing office—much of the time being spent looking out of the windows envying the pilots—he joined the Air Operating Company, who were doing a lot of air survey work in South Africa. This, however, gave him but very little flying, and at the end of six months, he came back to England to become a flying instructor to the D.H. Technical School. The aircraft were wooden Moths built by the students. In 1929 he took his B licence ; a very simple business in those days. Some 20 or 30 hours' solo flying, a little cross-country work, a simple "Met" exam, and about one hour's night flying at Croydon was sufficient to qualify. In 1934 Capt. Hubert Broad was chief test pilot of de Havillands, and Bob Waight looked after the production side. There was so much work, however, that Geoffrey was given the opportunity to lend a hand testing Tiger
Moths, Dragons, Rapides, Express Air Liners, and Hornet Moths.

Broad left the company in 1935 and Waight took over, starting, with the Dragonfly and later the Albatross. It was during the period when the prototype Albatross was going through its development flying that Waight lost his life, and de Havilland took over as chief test pilot.
Nobody could have taken on a more interesting or more complex job because the Albatross was completely experimental from tip to tail. Engines were new, construction was new, and the layout was extremely advanced. He had a curious experience on the Albatross. While its strength was ample for all flying loads, some unfortunate drilling had weakened the fuselage under ground loads, and shortly after landing from a test flight the machine broke in halves on the ground.When war broke out he was busy testing Oxfords and Flamingoes, but when things became desperate at the time of the Battle of Britain, de Havillands did a big job doing emergency repairs to shot-up Hurricanes.
Dick Reynell of Hawkers came over and gave- Geoffrey the "know how" on Hurricanes. A little later Dick went out on operations with his old squadron (No. 43) and was, unfortunately, shot down.' He was an excellent test pilot and a gallant gentleman.

Geoffrey flew the first Mosquito at Hatfield on November 21st, 1940, but he is more proud of the first flight of the prototype Mosquito fighter. This was built at a dispersal factory with no airfield. To save some six week's wasted time in transport and re-erection at Hatfield, Geoffrey used local fields by having bridges built over ditches to give him a 450yd run for take-off, and then flew the fighter to Hatfield.

He was the 2nd man in Britain to have made a first flight on a jet aircraft,the Vampire, which he flew for the first time on September 21st, 1943, but Geoffrey had already flown the Gloster E.28 at Farnborough.

The first airing of the Vampire proved it to be a tribute to the D.H. design and aerodynamics staff, as it behaved almost exactly as they had forecast. There was, however, somewhat of an aileron overbalance which limited the speed to 250 m.p.h. and a rather severe tip stall. Geoffrey de Havilland had made a number of investigation- flights on Mosquitoes for compressibility effects, but on the Vampire he has done extensive work. The Vampire, under the effects of compressibility, executes a series of sudden high-speed stalls: The path of the machine is similar to an artist's conception of a streak of lightning, and unless the pilot is strapped-in tightly he is likely to be knocked out by hitting the cockpit roof. Geoffrey, with another pilot, has flown the Vampire in tight formation at over 500 m.p.h., and to investigate snaking, which is causing considerable trouble on most jet aircraft, he has flown the Vampire with rudder locked. Like most of the test pilots of that era, he was living on borrowed time, they having at some stage of their careers had close shaves. Strangely enough, Geoffrey's nearest go was on about the mildest type he ever flew. It was the first production Moth Minor. The prototype had completed its spinning tests, and the same tests on the production model appeared to be only a matter of form. He was flying with John Cunningham (now Group Capt., D.S.O., D.F.C., and test pilot for the D.H. engine division) at the time. The Minor was put into a spin at 5-6,oooft, but after it had failed to come out in five turns and the engine had stopped, a panic decision was made to abandon ship.Test-flying a Hurricane, too, almost saw him off. This particular aircraft had had a gruelling time in the Battle of Britain, and the whole canopy came off at 4,000ft.hitting him in the face as it blew backwards. At first blind through the amount of blood in his eyes, he flew more by instinct than anything else until he found he could get a little relief by holding his face close to the instrument board. The blood dispersed a little and he was able to land through what appeared to be a thick yellow haze. He wears the scars across his nose to this day, and there was a terrible moment during that flight when he thought he was really blind. On another occasion the oxygen bottle contained only compressed air, and the effects from this were at first blamed on the previous night's party.
In the days of peace before the war Geoffrey de Havilland was to be seen at all the air meetings and twice finished 4th in the King's Cup Race flying the TKi and TK2. He was awarded the OBE in the King's birthday honours in 1945.
Geoffrey flew the first DH 108 prototype, TG283, utilising the Vampire fuselage and a 43° swept wing on 15 May 1946. Designed to investigate low-speed handling, it was capable of only 280 mph (451 km/h). Geoffrey de Havilland, gave a display flight in the DH 108 during the 1946 Society of British Aircraft Constructors (SBAC) airshow at Radlett.

The second, high-speed prototype, TG306, with a 45° swept wing incorporating automatic leading-edge Handley Page slats and powered by a de Havilland Goblin 3 turbojet, flew soon after in June 1946. Modifications to the design included a more streamlined, longer nose and a smaller canopy (framed by a strengthened metal fairing) facilitated by lowering the pilot's seat. While being used to evaluate handling characteristics at high-speed, on 27 September 1946 TG306 suffered a catastrophic structural failure that occurred in a dive from 10,000 ft (3,050 m) at Mach 0.9 and crashed in the Thames Estuary killing Geoffrey de Havilland Jr.

John J Cockburn OBE 1937-2017

John Cockburn briefing Roland Beamont in the cockpit of a Jaguar

John Cockburn was a notable figure in British and European military aviation from the late 1960s until his retirement from BAE Systems in 2007. Born into a farming family in Berwickshire, and educated at Loretto, he began his flying career as a National Service trainee pilot in the RAF. He gained his wings in 1957, via the Provost and Vampire and thence to the Meteor and Canberra bomber, on which he joined 139 Squadron at Binbrook, Lincolnshire, in 1959. He took part in Battle of Britain flypasts in 1959 and 1960 flying a Canberra, and achieved an “above average” rating as a jet bomber pilot.
He left the RAF in 1961, but he immediately joined Ferranti at Turnhouse (now Edinburgh Airport) as a test pilot to fly their Meteor in development trials on early terrain-following radar and radar destined for the new Lightning fighter. Ferranti also operated a Lightning fighter, at British Aircraft Corporation (now BAE Systems) based at Warton, Lancashire. Following conversion to fly the Lightning with the RAF, Cockburn moved there in the mid-1960s, joining the team led by Wing Cdr Roland Beamont, where he was active in radar development, and one of the few to participate in the hazardous Lightning spinning programme. In 1968 he had to eject from a burning Lightning shortly after take-off from Warton. Although Cockburn headed the aircraft for Morecambe Bay, the fire rapidly disabled the controls, leaving him powerless. After he had ejected, the fighter crashed into Pilling Moss, luckily missing nearby houses. Having parachuted into a chicken run, to an unprintable welcome from the proprietor, he made his way to a nearby toll bridge – helmet under his arm – where the staff took him for an accident-prone motorcyclist. A few days later, he was displaying another Lightning at Farnborough Airshow.
 In 1976, he and fellow pilot Tim Ferguson had a narrow escape when a gun-bay door flew off a Tornado dual control prototype in flight, smashing the canopy, injuring both pilots and damaging one of the engines. Although they could neither hear nor talk to one another, they made it back to Warton. The aircraft was modified as a result.Throughout the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Cockburn was involved in the Jaguar and Tornado development programmes, as well as flying the Buccaneer and several other aircraft types. By the end of this period, which saw major advances in radar, navigation, weapon aiming, terrain following, and in-flight refuelling technology, he was probably the foremost avionics test pilot in Europe.
 John Cockburn ceased test flying in late 1979 and went back to his farm. But he could not keep away from aviation and returned to Warton in the late 1980s, via a spell at Ferranti, as a Sales/Customer Director in BAE Far and Middle East and Canadian operations. With his first hand experience of most aspects of BAE aircraft and associated technologies, he was well placed to lead negotiations for the sale of military aircraft and other products to overseas air forces. A major part of this role was his involvement in winning the contract to supply the Royal Canadian Air Force with Hawk aircraft as advanced NATO trainers and aerobatic display machines.Having been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air in 1974, and the OBE in 2002, he finally retired from BAE in 2007, 50 years after gaining his wings.