Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Constantin 'Kostia' Rozanoff 1905-1954

Constantin 'Kostia' Rozanoff with Mystere IV Constantin Rozanoff, nicknamed "Kostia", was more than an icon in the French Air Force fighter arm, he was a true aviation legend. A descendant of a noble Russian family, he was born on August 23rd 1905 in Varsovie (Poland). With his parents he immigrated to France a few years later, and he became a French citizen in 1927.
He studied engineering at the central and superior schools of aeronautics where he graduated with top honnors. Called in the military service in 1928, he completed his obligations with the 34th aviation regiment of observation at Le Bourget, and as a reserve officer at Avord. He continued his military aviation career, graduated as a pilot, and was attached to the 12th aviation regiment in Reims in 1930. Desiring to continue his career in the French Air Force, he opted for technical and administrative positions, rather than operational positions. In April 1935, he was attached to the Villacoublay flight test center and promoted to captain in June. He pursued his test pilot career until the beginning of world war two. However, in October of 1937, it almost came to an end. While testing the spin characteristics of a Hanriot, he could not recover and bailed out just in time. On November 28 1939, he was selected to ferry a captured Bf 109, but the flight ended with another bail out and the destruction of the airplane. Desiring to take a more active part in the war, he requested to be transferred to the front, and in February of 1940 he became second in command of GC (Groupe de chasse) II/4. Staying with the "armistice" Air Force, he was assigned several positions at the command headquarters. On November 21st 1942, he took command of GC II/5 Lafayette, re-equipped with Curtiss P-40s and saw combat in Tunisia. At the end of the Tunisian campaign, he was named assistant to the director of all the flight schools in North Africa. On July 16th 1943 he took command of GC II/3. Promoted to lieutenant colonel in December, he left for Great Britain to occupy several posts, and to attend two additional test pilot courses, including one at the Empire Central Flying School where his instructors noticed his high sense of duty, a strong personality, and a great sense of humour. His raw sense of humour however was not always appreciated. In July 1945, he flew his first Jet in the united States. At the end of 1945, he was assigned as director of the CEAM at the flight test center of Mont-de-Marsan with the rank of colonel. He quit the French Air Force in October of 1946. After his release from the French Air Force, he was hired right away as director of flight test with Dassault and put in charge of testing the Marcel Dassault MD.450 Ouragan, as well as the Mystere II. On February 24th 1954, at the controls of a Mystere IV, he was the first French pilot to break the sound barrier with a French built airplane.

It was the same airplane that ended his life tragically on the 3rd of April 1954. After performing a brilliant demonstration of the airplane in front of a delegation of French and British personalities, Kostia decided to break the sound barrier for the first time at ground level. Unfortunately, following an electrical failure of the stabilizer motor, the control surface deflected to nose down position as the airplane was entering the initial low altitude presentation. The aircraft hit the ground and exploded in a gigantic fire ball.

Johnnie Walker 1930-2017

With Glen 'Snake' Reeves,Lockheed Test Pilot after a succesful flight in the F-104
In cockpit of F-104
Johnnie Walker (right) with John Cochrane
Johnnie Walker flying Concorde Test Aircraft

Friday, July 11, 2008

Jack 'Jackie' Jackson

Jack Jackson flew over 600 combat missions in Vietnam. A highly decorated veteran, Jack is the recipient of four Distinguished Flying Crosses, 33 Air Medals, Navy Comendation Medal for Heroism and Valor, a host of campaign medals and, most recently, the Legion of Merit for Service to His Country. He was called back to active duty for Desert Shield where he served as a Harrier Instructor Pilot.
Jack became a test pilot at Boeing Company in January 1978. He tested virtually every type of U.S. fighter aircraft as well as two Russian fighters (Yak38 and SU-27), accumulating over 10,000 flight hours. He made the first flights in the AV8C, AV8 Night Attack, and the AV8 Harrier II radar aircraft In January 2004, he retired from his position as Chief Pilot-Production Test with Boeing Company where he was responsible for all production activities.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Alan C. Bavin 1922-2008

Alan C. Bavin who was a Test Pilot at Rolls Royce 1955-62.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

John William WIlson 1924-

John William WIlson joined the RAFVR in 1942 and trained on Tiger Moths. In 1943 he graduated and was posted to various flying instructor courses in Canada. In 1944 he joined OTU Debert flying Mosquito. In 1945 he was posted to 84 Squadron in India, Burma and Malaysia flying Mosquito VI's. In 1946 he was posted to 124 Squadron RAF Bentwaters and RAF Boxted flying Meteor III. In 1947 he was posted to 56 Squadron RAF Duxford flying Meteor's and was detached for Meteor tropical trials RAF Tengah Singapore.

In 1949 he resigned his commission in RAF as Squadron Leader and joined de Havilland as Experimental Test pilot. He undertook the flight testing of the DH98 Mosquito, DH100 Vampire, DH103 Hornet, DH104 Dove, DH106 Comet, DH110 Sea Vixen, DH112 Venom, DH113 Vampire Night Fighter, DH 114 Heron, DH115 Vampire trainer DHC1 Chipmunk and DH121 Trident.

He was the 2nd pilot for the first flight of the Comet Prototype with John Cunningham as Captain. In 1950 he undertook the first flights of the DH112/2 Venom Night Fighter and DH115 Vampire trainer prototypes. In 1951 he flew on the maiden flight of the Sea Venom Night fighter.
In 1957 he transferred to the design department as Chief Operations Engineer where he was responsible for Flight Deck layout for DH121 Trident and DH125. In 1968 he was responsible for development at Toulouse of the A300 flight deck for BEA.