Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cecil Arthur Rea, A.F.C 1885-1975

Flight Lieutenant Cecil Arthur Rea, A.F.C., was born in Belfast in May 1885 and was employed on the Canadian Pacific Railway prior to joining the R.N.A.S. in late 1914. Rising rapidly to Chief Petty Officer in the Armoured Car Detachment, he was commissioned Flight Sub-Lieutenant in July 1915 and underwent his Pilot's Course at Eastchurch that October, his Service Record noting that among other achievements he completed some night flying. Further training at Hendon ensued, and during a return flight from Cranwell, Rea's machine, G.W. Box Kite No.3609, became inverted and crashed. No blame, however, was attributed to the Pilot who escaped unscathed. Advanced to Flight Lieutenant in October of the same year, he commenced his brief as an Experimental Pilot in July 1917 and had completed in excess of 150 hours on 'all types' by the middle of 1918 - pioneering work that resulted in a recommendation for his advancement to Flight Commander and, no doubt, largely contributed to the award of his A.F.C.Post-War, Rea, remaining in the regular R.A.F. until 1926, continued as a Test Pilot of Seaplanes, Amphibians and Aeroplanes. In 1924 he was granted special leave as one of two Pilots selected to fly the Gloucester Aircraft Company's Schneider Trophy entry, a Gloster Napier Seaplane, in the contest that year in the United States. Unfortunately, the other Pilot, Captain Broad, crashed the machine 'when alighting after its first flight' and, in Rea's words, 'performed some unrehearsed "hydrobatics" but escaped with a shaking' with the result that the 1924 British entry was scratched. On transfer to the Reserve in 1926, Rea joined Boulton & Paul Limited as Chief Test Pilot and the Company's Liaison Officer with the R.A.F. and Air Ministry. The following year he raised Boulton & Paul's profile by piloting one of their machines to win in the Tradesmen's Cup. In 1936 he was granted a five year extension of service in the Reserve, and the same year founded John Short Limited and established their aircraft works at Norwich. He resigned from the R.A.F. Reserve in 1938, and later in the year was appointed Operations Officer (Balloons) at the Air Ministry. In 1939 he moved to the Ministry of Aircraft Production, as Production Officer with responsibility for barrage balloon equipment. From 1940 to 1943 he was Senior Production Officer concerned with various aspects of balloons and aircraft, and between 1944-45 was Technical Officer at the 'German Document Centre'. At the conclusion of Rea's career as a Test Pilot he had flown a staggering total of 136 different types of aircraft.

Kingsley 'Peter' Henry Tisshaw 1923-1949

Kingsley Peter Henry Tisshaw was born at Putney on September 25th, 1923, and received his education at St. Paul s School and at Aberdeen University. He joined the R.A F in 1941 and, after training in the U.S.A., served as a flying instructor at a number of R.A.F. home stations. He married in 1945 and in December of that year was posted to Turkey, returning to this country in January, 1947. Two months later he left the R.A.F. and took his " B " Licence and Second
Navigator's Licence with Straight Aviation Training Ltd. before joining Boulton Paul in August, 1947. He was killed alongside BPA Chief Test Pilot Lindsay Neale in an accident to a prototype Balliol T.2 on February 3rd 1949. The aircraft was being flown from Wolverhampton Airport on one of a series of diving tests by Mr. Lindsay Neale, with Mr. Tisshaw acting as observer. After brief tests from some 14,000ft, the Balliol was seen to be descending at very high speed and crashed in a field about half a mile from the airport, both pilots being instantly killed. The cause of the accident was due to the canopy becoming detached.
Peter Tisshaw belonged to a generation of " up and coming " young test pilots, and his skill in flying and reliability of judgment had already commanded the respect of his colleagues.
Quiet in manner and very likeable in disposition, he was happiest when in the air.

ACdre George F.A Skelton 1909-1985

George Skelton joined Boulton Paul Aircraft as a test pilot in 1937,flying Defiant's and Rocs. He was recalled to the RAF in 1939 jonig No 264 Sqn, the first Defiant unit.

Taking off at 04.15 hrs o Monday 13th Ma 1940 from Martlesham along with 5 other Boulton Paul Defiant's and 6 Spitfires from 66 Squadron. F/Lt George Skelton and Air Gnr Jack Hafield were flying Defiant L6969. The object being to patrol the Dutch coast between Ijmuiden and the Hague to attack German troop transport.They flew across the North Sea, making landfall about ten miles north of The Hague at 0515, after which all aircraft turned north. Over IJmuiden they were fired on by Dutch anti-aircraft guns located on the south side of the harbour. The guns were firing accurately but they ceased fire immediately the British signalled the Dutch letter of the day. All aircraft turned about and flew south along the coast. More fire, this time German, was met over Maassluis which caused sections to take evasive action. Shortly after, the No. 66 Squadron Spitfires turned east towards Rotterdam where there were fires raging in various places while the Defiant's followed a more southerly route. Approaching Rotterdam, the crews of both flights saw about seven German Ju 87 Stukas (belonging to 12. Staffel of Lehrgeschwader 1) dive-bombing a target to the south-east. The Defiant's went in to the attack and a ferocious air battle developed. Shortly after, Bf 109's from 5. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 26 joined the battle, which then developed into a series of individual dogfights. Hit by German fighters, the pilot of Blue 1, Flight Lieutenant George Skelton, lost consciousness and the aircraft went into a spiral dive. His gunner, Pilot Officer Jack Hatfield, tried in vain to contact his pilot and finally abandoned the plane.After Hatfield had left the aircraft by parachute, Skelton regained consciousness and, being wounded and possibly to low to bail out, tried to save himself by gliding down to a strip of reeds to break his impact. He made a perfect emergency landing at the edge of the Donge River south of the town of Geertruidenberg where the wrecked aircraft would remain for a considerable time. The seriously injured pilot was brought to the St Theresia Hospital at Raamsdonksveer, where Dr. Charles Lips treated him. Initially the hospital staff hid Skelton but eventually the Germans found him and he was transferred to Germany where he remained in various camp hospitals until, due to his injuries, he was eventually repatriated to Britain via Sweden in 1943.

Thanks to the treatment he received from German doctors, Skelton was later able to fly again. In late 1944, after France had been liberated, he spent some time in Cannes with his wife and family to speed up his recovery. He later carried out administrative and technical duties in the RAF and in 1945 he was promoted to Squadron Leader. Two years later he was further promoted to Wing Commander and, from December 1948 to December 1950, served as Air Attaché in Prague. In 1952, now a Group Captain, he took a course at No. 101 Flying Training School to maintain his flying skills and later took a further course at No. 215 Advanced Flying Training School at Finningly. In 1954 he was posted to 2nd Tactical Air Force in Germany and in April 1956 promoted to Air Commodore. In 1959 he was appointed Chief of Air Staff but he left the service on his retirement later that year and returned to the south of France with his wife. His health deteriorated in 1979 and he returned to England for treatment. He died in King Edward Hospital in London on October 18, 1985, aged 76

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Douglas Webster 'Tommy' Lucke 1909-1972

Douglas Webster 'Tommy' Lucke was born in Mexico. He had a colourful career from the time
when, at the age of 20, he worked his passage from Texas to take an R.A.F. short-service
On completing it he joined Ethyl Export for flying duties which took him to many parts of the world. In 1937 he joined Bristols as an instructor, then re-entered the R.A.F. and was engaged on flying which included work in connection with countering the magnetic mine and the development of the Mohne Dam weapon and of airborne lifeboats. From 1946 to 1948 he was with B.O.A.C. as chief test pilot at Croydon. He was appointed C.F.I, to the Royal Egyptian
Air Force and served for a year before giving up active flying for health reasons. In 1954 he joined the Sales Department of Export Packing Service, Ltd., a large proportion of whose work consists of the preparation of aircraft and components for transportation.

Richard A.V. Hazlehurst 1922-1960

Richard Hazlehurst flew with Bomber Command during the war and won the DFC, joined Bristol Siddeley Engines as a test pilot in 1959. He had 7,800 flying hours on 30 different types of aircraft. He was killed in an accident at Filton to a Fairey Gannet along with two of the company's flight development technicians, P. Field and E. P. Potter.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Barry Radley 1923-1989

After joining the R.A.F. in 1938, he became a night fighter pilot in No. 125 Sqn. during the war, and an R.A.F. test pilot in 1946. Was at E.T.P.S. in 1949 on No8 course, and at R.A.B. for 21 years. Flew with Sabena for six months before joining Hunting Percival in 1953. He became deputy chief test pilot of Hunting Aircraft and latterly joined IATA in Montreal until 1962 before sailing for South Africa in 1963 to join the Department of Transport in Pretoria as a senior inspector of flying. A member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, He had over 5,000hr flying on 140 different aircraft types.

George F. Thornton DFC

George F. Thornton DFC joined de Havilland Aircraft from the R.A.F. in 1949 as a production and development test pilot at Hatfield. He trained in the U.S. (1942-43) and flew Mustangs
and Spitfires with No. 2 Sqn., 2nd T.A.F. (1944-45). Was with No. 208 Sqn. in Palestine (1947)
then at the C.F.E., West Raynham, for his last two years of R.A.F. service.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

James 'JB' E. Brown III 1954-

James Brown III was born in 1954 and grew up in Birmingham,Alabama. His interest in flying developed with help from his father, who was an amateur pilot. The young man dreamed of one day becoming an astronaut. He attended the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington,Virginia and graduated in 1976 with a Bachelor's Degree in Civil engineering. Brown's first solo flight occurred in February 1976.

After graduating from VMI, Brown was commissioned as a 2nd Lt in the United States Air Force. He entered the Undergraduate Pilot Training program in 1977 and earned his wings the following year. Brown's first operational tour began in 1979 with the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany where he flew the F-4 Phantom II. On his next tour, Brown flew the F-5E Tiger II with the 527th Aggressor Squadron at RAF Alconbury in England.

He is the chief test pilot for the F-22 Raptor program and is stationed at Edwards AFB in California where he performs activities including avionics testing, flight envelope expansion, and the creation of procedural flight manuals for the Air Force. Previously, he was the chief test pilot for the F-117 Nighthawk. Brown is a Fellow and past president of SETP and is a Fellow of the RAes.