Friday, June 27, 2008

Jon S Beesley 1950-

Jon Beesley made the first flight of the F-35 Lighning II on 15th December 2006

Jon S Beesley was born and raided in Rexburg,Idaho. He graduated from Utah State University with a B.S. degree in Physics and was commissioned in the USAF n 1972. Following USAF pilot training and conversion training in the F-4 Phantom II,he served 4 years as an F-4 pilot stationed in the Netherlands with the 32TFS. Jon graduated from USAF Test Pilot School in 1979 and began his test pilot career at Edwards AFB working on classified programs.

Selected as the Operations Officer (1981-1986) for the F-117 Stealth Fighter, he had the good fortune to be one of the first USAF pilots to fly the stealth fighter. In this testing,his efforts focused on flying qualities and envelope expansion flights. He was a co-rcipient of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots - Ivan C. Kincheloe award, the top award given for his work in the early days of the F-117 progam. He was also presented with an Air Medal by the USAF Chief of Staff for safely recovering a n F-117 badly damaged during a destructie flutter incident later in the program.

Jon left the Air Force in 1986 and joined the General Dynamics Corporation in Fort Worth,Texas. As a General Dynamics Test Pilot, he flew development flights on an innovative night attack system on the F-16 - Falcon Eye. The program was one of the first to use helmet-mounted displys and head steered infrared devices on a tactical aircraft. He also became the Genereal Dynamics project test pilot on the YF-22 in the ATF competition in 1990. Following the selection of the YF-22 as the USAF's next fighter, he moved into the F-22 program as the Fort Worth project pilot.

His efforts with the F-22 program were focused on the development and subsequent flight testing of the F-22 Raptor. The primary area of emphasis was aircraft systems integration,development of superb flying qualities and agility throughout the Raptor's flight envelope. He was the second pilot to fly the F-22 and one of the lead pilots in envelope expansion flights. He was awarded the Chuck Yeager award in 200 for his career achievements as a test pilot.

Jon is currently the Chief Test Pilot on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. He made the first flight of the F-35 Lighning II on 15th December 2006. He has over 5500 hours of flight time in over 50 types of aircraft.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sir Alan Cobham KBE AFC 1894-1973

Born on May 6, 1894, Alan Cobham came from a simple English farm family and did not particularly distinguish himself as a member of the Royal Flying Corps in World War I. After the war, he became a test pilot for de Havilland and promoted the line of light D.H. planes that culminated in the famous de Havilland Moth models. It was in a precursor of the Moth (a D.H. 50J) that he made a flight from London to Cape Town in November 1925, and then from London to Melbourne and back between June 30 and October 1, 1926, a flight that covered nearly twenty-seven thousand miles (43,443km).

Cobham returned to London amid cheering crowds, dramatically landing his seaplane on the Thames next to Parliament. Neither the flight to Cape Town nor the one to Australia were the first of their kind, but they were impressive because they demonstrated the reliability of airplane transportation and the effectiveness of careful planning.

Neither the LondonAustralia flight of the Smith brothers in 1919 nor the LondonCape Town flight of Van Ryneveld and Brand in 1920 convinced governments or airlines that routine air transportation between these points was feasible. Cobham’s flights accomplished this, and serious international flights over long distance (in many countries, not just from England) began after Cobham’s flights.

The flight to Australia had been anything but routine. While flying over Iraq, a sandstorm forced Cobham to fly low. Bedouins, probably seeing their first airplane, shot at it and hit Arthur Elliott, Cobham’s co-pilot and long-time friend. Cobham made an emergency landing in Basra and Elliott was taken to a hospital, but he died the next day. This incident underscored the dangers of flying over unknown territory; that Cobham’s flight was able to convince people that flying was practical in spite of Elliott’s death was a tribute to Cobham’s planning and perseverance.

Cobham’s next project was to survey the coast of Africa from the air (filming from an open cockpit) in preparation for commercial flights to African, Asian, and South American destinations. He then toured England, sponsoring National Aviation Day exhibitions that entertained and informed the public on the benefits of air transportation. Cobham became a proponent of in-flight refuelling, founding a company that became the world leader in the development of that technology. He died in 1973 at the age of seventy-nine, after a distinguished career in aviation.

Yves Rossy 1959-

Yves Rossy is a Swiss pilot, inventor and aviation enthusiast. He invented and was the Test Pilot for the first flight on November 2006, flying a jet-engine powered wing strapped to his back. The flight occurred in Bex nr Lake Geneva, lasting nearly six minutes.

Yves has served as a fighter pilot in the Swiss Air Force flying Dassault Mirage III's, Northrop F-5 Tiger IIs and Hawker Hunters. He flewBoeing 747's for Swissair and now works as an Airbus pilot for Swiss International Airlines.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Flt Lt David Ince DFC 1921-2017

Olympia 403 at Lasham prior to take off on test flight
Flying formation alongside Nick Goodhart
Olympia 403 development flight at Twinwood Farm
David Ince was born in Glasgow and was educated at Aysgarth School and Cheltenham College. Failing to meet the eyesight standards for aircrew he became a gunner officer in 1940 and managed to pass a wartime RAF medical board at his third attempt. Seconded for Army Cooperation duties, he trained in Canada at 35 EFTS and 37 SFTS before returning to the UK to fly Hurricanes and Mustangs at 41 OTU.
Subsequently converting to Typhoons he flew with 193 and 257 Squadrons, from Normandy until the end of hostilities in Europe, completing almost 150 sorties and being awarded an immediate DFC.
He took a leading part in trials, demonstrations and the early operational use of Napalm. Two ninety gallon drop tanks painted red - filled with petroleum jelly to be set off by phosphorous igniters. They were viewed with great suspicion, no instructions as to how to drop them. The Wing's best bomber pilot was selected and David Ince was to take the photographs. When the bomber pilot went on rest, the task became David's. "You know all about it" they said!! The tanks had no fins and tumbled as they fell. He dropped them as low as possible and - no bouncing with those bombs - always hit the target. They were used once in anger - (probably the only such RAF operation in WW II) on a German strongpoint near Arnhem - and the survivors were frightened to death. Many years later he read a Boscombe Down report (lost in the fog of war?) which stated that:- "Under no circumstances are these weapons to be dropped at less than 100 ft"
His worst moment came when he was almost shot down by flak over Rotterdam - photographing the Gestapo headquarters - following a Wing attack by some sixty Typhoons,having to creep home, mostly on instruments, with oil pouring over the canopy and into the cockpit. Somehow he made it to a safe landing on the nearest allied airfield. He later devised and proved a camera installation for low level close up target photography, which was an immediate success. In the closing stages of the war he was leading 193 Squadron on shipping strikes in the Baltic.
After attending the No 4 Course (first post war course) at The Empire Test Pilots School he returned to University to complete an engineering degree. His test flying career terminated rather rapidly, after attending No 4 Course at ETPS as Glosters nominee, due to chronic sinusitis, which was bad news with high altitude development sorties and early pressure cabins. In the event he did some Balliol flying with Boulton Paul Aircraft whilst taking the engineering degree (Ben Gunn and Dickie Mancus were great friends of his who helped him come to terms with the loss of a test flying career)
On taking up Gliding in 1947 he was immediately involved in glider testing. Firstly with several British Gliding Association Test Groups and then with Elliotts of Newbury for some 10 years.