Wednesday, February 23, 2011

S/Ldr Samuel Eric 'Red' Esler DFC 1918-1949

Avro's deputy chief test pilot, Samuel Eric Esler joined A. V. Roe and Co. June, 1948, and was responsible for a great deal of flying on Tudor aircraft; especially notable was his climb to 40,000ft in 47 min in the jet-propelled Tudor 8. In the absence in Canada of Avro's chief test pilot, Mr. J. H.Orrell, Esler was made responsible for all flying on the Type 707.
A Belfast man, Esler was educated at Skegoniel School and Belfast College of Technology. Before the war he was a car salesman in Belfast and a sergeant in the R.A.F.V.R. Commissioned in May, 1942, he served in No. 120 Squadron, Coastal Command,flying Liberators.He was awarded the D.F.C. on December 4th, 1942, the citation recording that he had damaged two enemy submarines (heavily damaging U-449) and that on three occasions he had taken part in operational sorties necessitating almost continuous blind flying owing to extremely bad weather.

The Avro 707,a vital link in the chain of British aeronautical research—began its taxying trials at Boscombe Down on September 3rd 1949, and during one of these tests made a short hop a few feet above the ground. The first flight was delayed by an unfavourable wind until the following evening, when it took to the air. Esler was airborne for twenty minutes.
On September 6th 1949 the 707 arrived at Farnborough for static exhibition at the S.B.A.C. Display. On September 30th, VX784 was on a flight from the Royal Aircraft Establishment when it crashed killing Esler. The crash occurred near Blackbushe and the aircraft was almost totally destroyed by fire.