Monday, December 29, 2008

James 'J.O.' Roberts 19xx-2008

James 'J.O.' Roberts

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Alan Smith 1933-

Alan Smith was an ATC Cadet in 1950, joining the RAF thereafter, he flew Meteor NFX1's with 68 Sqn in Germany. He was employed by BAC as a Training Captain (Latterly Chief Training Captain), and flew on quite a few test flights as co-pilot on the BAC 1-11.
In so far as Concorde was concerned, it was unfortunate for the training captains that although they got to fly on some test flights, and also received training towards their pilot-in-command licences, there was not enough flight time available for them to complete a course.As British Airways was the only British operator, the first two airline courses were trained by some of the test pilots.(This was particularly hard on Alan Smith and Paddy Cormican who did a tremendous job in writing the simulator and flight programmes, but did not have the satisfaction of qualifying as Pilot-in-command, and taking part in the flying training).

n all he has flown 75 types/Mks of aircraft including DC-3,Concorde,BAC 1-11

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dimitry D. (Jimmy) Viner 1908-1998

Jimmy Viner was born in 1908 in Kiev, Russia. In 1923, when Jimmy Viner was 15 years old, he and his family came to America.

He joined the original Sikorsky Aero Engineering Corporation at Roosevelt, L. I. in 1923, when the company was founded by his uncle, Igor I. Sikorsky. He was Sikorsky's 15th and youngest employee. He started as an errand boy, stock chaser, sweeper and truck driver. When he requested a title, his uncle designated him "Sikorsky's Director of Transportation". He moved to Connecticut with the company in 1929, learning to fly fix-wing planes during the same year. He has been with Sikorsky ever since, with the exception of the early 40's when he was a flight instructor for the Bridgeport Flying Service at Turner Falls, Mass.

Jimmy had acquired more than 1,500 hours of fixed-wing aircraft time and more than 4,000 hours of rotary wing flying. He flew almost eight hours in the VS-300, the first Sikorsky helicopter and he was the first helicopter pilot to log 1,000 hours, in 1947.

Other firsts are: first flights of the S-51, the S-55 and the S-58: first helicopter civilian rescue, in 1945, of two crewmen from an oil barge off Penfield Reef in Fairfield during a storm; first helicopter mail service in New York City; first pilot to operate a helicopter in plane guard work from an aircraft carrier in 1947, this resulted in the first Naval rescue, saving pilots whose planes went into the ocean; set a helicopter world speed record of 115 MPH in 1946.

The list of pilots and persons who have received helicopter training under Jimmy reads like an aviation "who's Who". He was a two-time recipient of the "Winged-S" Rescue Award of Sikorsky Aircraft, and an honorary member of the American Helicopter Society and a member of the Society of Experimental Test pilots.

Floyd W.Carlson 1917-1984

Floyd Carlson was born in 1917 and died on 9th April 1984.He was a self taught helicopter pilot and the 3rd person in the USA who was granted helicopter rating by the C.A.A. In 1944 he made the first indoor flight in the USA,the second in the world. He was chief pilot and director of flight operations at Bell Helicopter until 1971, when he became special projects engineer.

Jack Zimmerman 1921-2002

Jack Zimmerman was the chief test pilot on the Cessna helicopter during it's life span from 1952 to 1963.

Jack Zimmerman grew up in Chicago during the depression and attended the University of Illinois, Champagne, studying engineering and physical education just before WW2. He dropped out of college to enlist in the Army Air Corps; his older brother Carl had joined the Air Corps and Jack's twin brother, Jerry, had joined the Navy. He graduated from flight school in 1943 as a brand new Second Lieutenant, Air Corps, United States Army.

Jack became one of the Army's first helicopter pilots. The Army convened its first class at Freeman Field, Indiana to teach experienced pilots how to fly the new helicopter. Jack was sent off to basic helicopter training.

Following training, Jack was assigned to the Aircraft Repair Unit Floating (ARU-F) out of Mobile, Alabama. The concept of the ARU-F was to create a floating repair facility for Army Air Corps aircraft and use the helicopter as a logistic arm flying parts from ship to shore. The US Army and not the US Navy developed the initial use of helicopters at sea. Some of the Liberty freighters had the small postage stamp landing field near the bow of the ship. Censors deleted all mention of this tiny landing platform during the war due to security reasons. It was believed that the kamikaze pilots might single out the ARU-F's if they knew of the ships mission. The unit went aboard a Liberty Ship, the S.S. Major General Olds, which was manned by merchant marine sailors, commanded by an Army Colonel and had a full machine shop which enabled it to maintain and manufacture aircraft parts at sea or in port.

A typical flight operation could be to deliver a part for B-29s at Tinian Island and Jack flew a photographic mission on Tinian to record the Enola Gay although he didn't know the purpose at the time.

After WW2, Jack worked as a helicopter pilot doing commercial work in various locations including Alaska, prior to becoming a test pilot for Seibel Helicopter and then Cessna. In 1963, Jack went to work as a test pilot for Hughes Helicopters where he retired in 1982 after test work on the new AH-64 Apache. 39 years of test flying, 1943 to 1982

Jack set many FAI records in the YOH-6A helicopter in 1966 including time-to-climb, distance over a closed course and altitude, several of which are still valid

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Harry T. Brackett 1920-1956

Vought test pilot Harry T. Brackett killed in crash of F8U Crusader at Edwards AFB

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Phillip 'Spud' Murphy 1926-2011

Spud Murphy (left) in cockpit of F-27

Spud Murphy joined the RAF in 1945 and qualified as an RAF pilot in July 1947. Between 1948 and 1951 he served with No's 56 and 66 Fighter Squadrons. During this period he led the Squadron aerobatic team displaying the Meteor F4 in many flying demonstrations,including the Festival of Britain Air Display at Hatfield in June 1951.
He resigned his commission in August 1951 in order to join Vickers-Armstrong as an experimental test pilot involved in weapon development on Red Dean and Blue Boar projects flyinf Meteor, Canberra qnd B-29. He became project pilot on the Valiant in flight refuelling and super sprite RATO equipment. Moved to Handley Page in 1958 and was involved in development of Victor BMk1 and 1A Tanker, Spectre RATO,Victor BMk2, Herald and Jetstream Mk1 and Mk2. He ejected from Victor XL159 in March 1962, when the aircraft was locked into a super stall. Appointed Deputy Chief Pilot in 1965 and was awarded the Queens Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air in 1967.

He remained with Handley Page until the company's collapse in 1970. He joined Air Anglia as Chief Pilot,later becoming Operations Manager. Became Operations Director of AirUK when new company formed in 1980. He joined BAe as Chief Test Pilot in 1981 and was succesful in bringing the Jetsream 31 to type certification. He retired from test flying in 1983 but continued to fly commercially until 1992.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Malcolm Muir 1929-2008

Malcom Muir(white overalls) with Victor test crew

Malcolm Christison Muir was born at Church Crookham, Hampshire, on September 9 1929, the son of a former pilot in the Royal Flying Corps. He was evacuated to Canada in March 1940 but returned to London in 1943 to be educated at St Paul ’s, where he excelled at sport. In October 1948 he was called up for National Service with the RAF and trained as a pilot, graduating with an above-average assessment; he also won the flying trophy.

On his release two years later Muir attended Imperial College , London , where he read Aeronautical Engineering. He joined the University Air Squadron and was commissioned as a flying officer, flying Spitfires and Vampire fighters. On graduation in July 1953 he started at de Havilland as a production test pilot. He also joined No 610 ( County of Chester ) Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, and flew Meteor fighters at weekends.

Initially he tested Vampire and Venom fighters at the company’s airfield near Chester . Whilst testing a Venom in October 1954, he was flying in cloud when the aircraft had an electrical fault, causing the flight instruments to fail. He was forced to eject.

The aircraft had been fitted with an early model of the Martin Baker ejector seat, and one that had no leg restraint system. When Muir ejected at 400mph his legs and arms flailed, causing both knees to be dislocated and a bad fracture of his upper left arm. He also suffered a serious compression fracture of the spine.

After recovering from his injuries, Muir continued testing de Havilland’s fighters and he also delivered Vampires and Venoms to Egypt and Iraq . In January 1956 he transferred to the engines division at Hatfield, where he carried out many test flights on the new generation of jet engines, including the Ghost and Gyron. At the Farnborough Air Show he demonstrated the Gyron Junior engine and the Spectre rocket engine embodied in Canberra aircraft.

In May 1958 he was seconded to Rolls-Royce to test the powerful Conway engine, mounted on an Ashton jet, and the Vulcan bomber. Six months later he joined the company as a development test pilot, becoming deputy chief test pilot in 1964.

During his time with Rolls-Royce, when he operated from Hucknall near Nottingham , Muir flew many engine test-bed aircraft, in addition to the latest fighters. Muir also flew helicopters equipped with Rolls-Royce engines, and whilst experimenting with landings on uneven ground the Wessex helicopter he was piloting had an engine failure and crashed. He suffered serious injuries to his upper spine and chest.

After returning to flying, Muir tested the Lightning, the Buccaneer (equipped with the Rolls-Royce Spey engine) and the Victor bomber. But in 1967, with 84 different types of aircraft in his log book, he was forced to retire from flying due to the injuries he had suffered during his ejection and helicopter crash.

Muir spent the next 12 years in Rolls-Royce’s marketing department. He was the sales manager ( USA ) for the Derby Engine before retiring in 1987 he was chief engineer in the flight operations department of Rolls-Royce.

Friday, December 12, 2008

LtCdr Roy S.Bradley 1922-1982

Roy Bradley served in the Fleet Air Arm from 1941-1946 flying with 1933 Sqn. After the war he became Chief Pilot at Helliwells until joining Westlands a a test pilot in 1950. Had flown over 68 types.

Don F. Farquharson OBE 19xx-1997

Donald Frank Farquharson joined the Royal Navy in 1942,trained in the USA and flew Barracudas. After the war he flew the Firefly and in 1947 graduated from the Central Flying School as an instructor.
He converted to helicopters in 1949 and was involved with the introduction of the Dragonfly into the Royal Navy. After loan service with the Royal Australian Navy,during which he was awarded the OBE for rescueoperations in New South Wales flood disaster,he returned to the UK for further service until 1957 when he left the Navy.
He continued his flying career with Westland in 1960. He has over 6,000 flying hours,4200 of them on helicopters. He was project pilot on the Sea King/Commando.

Derrick A.S Colvin DFC 1922-1986

Derrick A.S Colvin served with the RAF between 1940-1946 with 64 and 249 Sqn's, commanding 249 Sqn. On leaving the RAF he joined Scottish Aviation as an airline pilot. He first flew a helicopter in 1948 and joined Westlands in 1949. He was involved test flying the S-55

Mike H. Fuller

Mike Fuller started his flying career with the Fleet Air Arm in 1963,specialising in anti-submarine warfare. He qualified as a flying instructor at the Central Flying School and was Captain of the winning team in the 1967 International Search and Rescue competition for the Henry Dunant Trophy. He left the service the same year to join Westland as a test pilot.
He was project pilot for the military and civil versions of the Gazelle, and was involved with the overseas icing trials of the Wessex Mk.5.
Mike was involved with the development of the Lynx from the experimental stages in 1971 to being project pilot (development and aircrew training) for all overseas contracts which included Netherlands,France,Germany,Norway,Brasil,Korea and South Africa.
He was project pilot on the EH101 Merlin for icing trials in Canada and Denmark developing the heated rotor blade system.
He was awarded the R.P. Alston medal for services to test flying by the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1985.

Keith Hill Chadbourn 1933-2018

Keith Chadbourn a former naval aviator, flying mostly Gannets at RNAS Eglinton, Culdrose, and from HMS Ark Royal, he joined Fairey Aviation as a test pilot and flying instructor, Fairey having sold Gannet A/S aircraft to the Indonesian Navy. He spent 2 1/2 years at Surabaja setting up the Indonesian Fleet Air Arm. Returning to UK in 1962, Westland Aircraft having aquired Fairey in the meantime, there was no job. He became an Air Traffic Controller at Heathrow but was delighted to be invited back to White Waltham to head the test flying of Gannet AEW3's being refurbished for a further lease of life with the Fleet.

A move to the west country followed and though continuing with Gannet flying until 1976 he qualified on all the helicopters then and susequently being made by Westland. He finished his active test flying in 1988, but continued as a communications pilot flying the company's Agusta 109 until 1992. From 1954 to 1992, when he retired as Senior Test Pilot, Keith amassed 6,162 hours on 38 types, aeroplanes and helicopters. While at White Waltham the aeroplanes included Swordfish, Fulmar, Stinson Reliant, Auster, Tiger Moth, Dragon Rapide, Dove, Tipsy Nipper, Junior and 'B'. (Peter Twiss was very generous). He flew at Farnborough, Hanover and Paris airshows and at Marignane, in Spain, Qatar, Sweden and Egypt. He was a Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (because of an abiding interest in the Anglo/Zulu war of 1879). He received a Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air in the 1989 New Year Honours.

Ron R Crayton 1922-2013

Ron R Crayton
L to R: Pilots: Mike Ginn, Ron Crayton, FTEs: Mike Ball, Bob Brookes

Lt Cdr R.R.Crayton.R.N was born August 26th 1922. He was educated at Torquay Preparatory Grammar School and Torquay Grammar School for Boys between 1933-40 leaving with a Cambridge School Certificate. He joined the Royal Navy in 1940 and was put on the R.N.R. In 1941 he joined HMS Daedalus at Lee on Solent and in November that year undertook 33 pilots course at HMS St Vincent. In 1942 he did his initial flying training at Grosse Isle USA and USN Pensacola Florida. On completion he was posted to HMS Anchusa Flower Class Corvette Atlantic Convoy and then 780 Sqn at HMS Daedalus on a Swordfish Conversion course. During 1943 he served with the following Squadrons: 756,755 and 766 Sqn's at RNAS Worthy Down performing TAG training. In 1944 he was with 768 Sqn at RNAS Inskip on a Night Attack Course then 836Sqn MAC Ships Atlantic Convoys flying the Swordfish.
In 1945 he was with 734,700 and 762 Sqn. H went to RNAS Worthy Down for a Maintenance Test Pilots Course and then to the Test Flight Section HMS Blackcap.
He performed detachment test flying at RAF Edzell, RAF Kemble and RNAS Dale. After the war he attended RAF Great Rissington Central Flying School Instructors Course in 1947 then to RAF Syerston Instructing. In 1950 he was posted to 767 Sqn HMS Heron where he took DLCO’S and Flight Deck Officers Course.
HMS Vengeance. Bats Officer 15th CAG HMS Indomitable Bats Officer 1st CAG CO MFV. Engine Crank Shaft Explosion, engine room fire. Whilst transporting indomitable personnel. Ordered abandon ship. During 1952 he was with 705 Sqn Instructing and in 1953 was with 705 Sqn. During the Dutch Floods he rescued 80+ people. Then to 848 Sqn RAF Kuala Lumpur Malaya performing Troop Lifting and Casevac.
In 1956 he became the Senior Pilot of 845Sqn, the1st Dunking Sonar Sqn. He was called into action during the Suez crisis with the1st Marine Assault, where he was badly shot up.
After Suez, he went to MOS Aberporth to perform Radar Trials and in 1958 he went to 701Sqn HMS Daedalus, the Trials Unit. He also went to the Sikorsky Plant in Connecticut, USA performing the 1St Night auto system assessment.
He resigned his Commission in R.N. to join Westland Helicopters as a Senior Test Pilot. As a test pilot with Westland he carried out development work on all marks of S55, Wessex and Seaking. His main projects were the development of auto pilot and stabiliser systems and the development of “1N SYSTEM.” IPN starter system, general engine development and production Test Flying.
He gave Air day demonstrations and flew at the Paris and Farnborough displays. After retirement from flying, he ran the family business until final retirement in 1988.

Eur Ing David Gibbings MBE C Eng, FRAeS 1932-

David Gibbings joined Royal Air Force in May 1949 as an Engineering Apprentice, and subsequently trained as Navigator. In 1955 he joined Fairey Aviation as a Flight Test Navigator engaged in the testing of Air to Air guided weapons.
In 1959 David transferred to the Aircraft Division at Hayes/White Waltham, as a Propulsion Development Engineer, working at the Test bed facility for Rotodyne tip-jets, duties also included flying in Rotodyne as Flight Engineer.Upon conclusion of the Rotodyne programme in 1962 (Fairey now having been acquired by Westland), he was transferred to the Flight Test Department working on Scout and Wasp helicopters and Gannet AEW aircraft.
David subsequently moved to the Flight Test Department at Yeovil in 1964 continuing to work on helicopter and fixed-wing projects. Appointed Project Flight Test Engineer for Lynx project in 1967 and subsequently flew with the prototype on first flight.
Appointed Helicopter Icing Trials Manager in 1977. Appointed Deputy Chief Flight Test Engineer in 1980, and Chief Flight Test Engineer in 1989.
David retired from Westland in 1993.
In 1993, David was awarded The 'Kelly Johnson' Award for Outstanding achievement in the field of Flight Test engineering by the Society of Flight Test Engineers, the first time this prestigious award had been awarded outside the US.
David has continued to work as a Consultant and Aviation Artist since retirement. He was awarded an MBE in the 2014 New Years Honours list for services to aviation heritage and defence

John W. “Hank” Lankford 1922-1990

John W. “Hank” Lankford was born in 1922 at Lynchburg, Virginia. He was a Navy pilot in the Pacific during WWII and was awarded 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses. He graduated from Georgia Tech University , then was recalled to active duty during the Korean war. In 1954 he joined what was then Chance Vought Aircraft, a predecessor to LTV, in Dallas , Texas as a production pilot flying the F7U-3, 3M and 3P aircraft, the F8U-1, 1P and 2 aircraft. As a civilian, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, then served from 1956 to 1960 as an experimental test pilot for Vought. He moved to the Washington area in 1972 as Director of Systems Division of Washington operations. He directed the company’s marketing efforts until retiring in 1983, In retirement, he was President of JWL Associates, an aerospace consulting firm. John passed away in 1990.