Monday, April 30, 2012

James A Read 1933-

Jim Read was born in early January, 1933 on a farm in rural southern Illinois. By the age of eight, Jim was doing farm chores before and after going to school. There was also lots of farm field work, especially during the summer and fall. By the time WWII started, he was already looking skyward wanting to fly and the war only increased that desire. He graduated from Eldorado High School in 1950 with the highest grade average among the boys and found school work easy. It was a good thing as he didn't have time to study much. He attended Southern Illinois University for 2.5 years. The yearn for flying and the Korean war led to leaving college and becoming a Naval Aviation Cadet. He commenced US Navy flight training on his 20th birthday and got his wings in July 1954 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the USMCR. After a short course in officer training at MCAS El Toro, CA he was transferred to MCAS Kaneohoe, HI where he joined VMF-232, a fighter squadron flying FJ-2 Furies. He quickly established himself with air-air gunnery marksmanship. He also spent a lot of spare time flying a F-6F or a SNB-5 around the Hawaiian islands for extra proficiency and enjoyment.

After a year of enjoying Hawaii, most of the squadron pilots, including Jim, were transferred to fighter squadron VMF-451 based at NAS Atsugi, Japan, again still flying the FJ-2. He flew a lot of post-maintenance check flights in Hawaii and Japan and was selected, along with a TPS graduate, to fly test flights for Nippi Aircraft Co, a Japanese startup company at Atsugi NAS, along with normal squadron flying.

In November, 1956 he was transferred back stateside to MCAS Cherry Point, NC where he was a flight leader training VMF-235 pilots in FJ-3M Furies. After about a year in VMF-235 he was assigned to the Overhaul & Repair Facility at Cherry Point as a test pilot of various aircraft that had undergone extensive overhaul or repair. Over the next 3 years, he flew many varied aircraft ala jets, props and transports, often with little or no training. He then joined VMCJ-2 in 1960, a reconnaissance squadron, flying F8U-1P photo and F-3D ECM recce missions, some of which were south of Key West, FL. In August, 1961, he received orders to join the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines for a Southeast Asia deployment as a Forward Air Controller. After a 15 month deployment, he was selected to attend the Naval Test Pilot School (TPS) at Patuxent River, MD and returned to the states in November, 1962.

While at TPS, he resumed flying varied aircraft and graduated with honors in September, 1963. He was then assigned as a Project Test Pilot at the Flight Test Division, Flying Qualities and Performance Branch where he test flew many different aircraft of that era including various versions of the A-4, A-5, A-6, F-4, F-8 and the OV-10 and Convair Charger prototypes. In 1965 he was accepted as a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. In July, 1966 his tour at Pax River was ending and as a Reserve Marine officer with no assurance of a military retirement he chose to leave the military after almost 14 years of service with the rank of Major and 3500 military flight hours to take a civilian test pilot job with the Vought Aircraft Division of LTV Aerospace in Dallas, TX. He immediately started test flying the new military A-7 aircraft as an Experimental Test Pilot. He continued to fly the A-7, F-8 and other aircraft at Vought.

In 1971 he flew the A-7D in the international Paris Air Show. In 1972, he led a Vought team to Switzerland where Swiss pilots evaluated the A-7 during a three month series of tests. Jim flew an impressive air show at the end of the trials at Payerne, Switzerland.

In the late 70's, Jim was heavily involved in developing a night low-level attack capability in the A-7 and was promoted to Senior Experimental Test Pilot. He gave demo flights to many high ranking DOD personnel, both military and civilian, in the YA-7H two-seater. In the fall of 1981, he supervised the training of a cadre of 8 Portuguese Air Force pilots in the A-7P. They flew the first 9 aircraft to Portugal in December, 1981. Jim then spent the next 14 months in Portugal where Jim continued to help train the first A-7P PAF squadron. Upon return to Dallas, he resumed flight tests that led to development of the low altitude night attack version of the A-7D, spending many nights flying at very low levels and high speeds. In March, 1987 he was promoted to Chief Test Pilot. In December, 1989 Jim moved to Lancaster, CA where Jim led the Vought team during one year of flight tests of the YA-7F at Edwards AFB. Upon return to Dallas, he became heavily involved in selection of a aircraft candidate for the Joint Primary Aircraft Training System, of which the Argentine IA-63 was selected as the Vought entry. He performed flight tests, gave demo rides and performed in several air shows in the IA-63.

After 40 years in a military aircraft cockpit and flying more than 120 different models and types of aircraft for more than 9,000 accident-free hours, Jim retired from flying in November, 1992. After retirement, Jim kept his mind busy developing software for the emerging IBM OS/2 PC operating system. His file management software was marketed for several years before Windows became the defacto user preference. His software is still in use today in the follow on to OS/2, the ECS operating system, along with other programs he authored or acquired.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

John Desmond Penrose D.Tech.,B.Sc.,D.L.C.,C.Eng.,F.R.Ae.S., F.R.S.A. 1930-

John Desmond Penrose was born 1st. May, 1930. He was educated at Loughborough College where he read aero.eng, graduating,with honours, in 1951. In his final year he wrote a thesis on "The Science of Aircraft Flight Testing" (mainly mathematical reduction) and designed and built a test bed for a RR Trent, the turboprop version of the Derwent,as tested in a Gloster Meteor.
He was taught to fly at the Nottingham University Air Squadron (1947-8 winner Johnathan Cash Trophy), soloing on 14th April 1948. He was Commissioned in the  Royal Air Force on 19th. September, 1951.
He flew with 208 (F.R.) Sqn, on Gloster Meteor F.R.9’s. He was on  No 174 Course ,Central Flying School, (winner Clarkson Aerobatic Trophy), followed by time at Cranwell as a Jet Instructor. Whilst there he formed the Vampire Aerobatic Team.  In 1958 he was selected for No 17 Course E.T.P.S and following that served 4 years as a test pilot at Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough.
In 1961, he was invited by John Cunningham to resign his commission and join de Havillands as a development test pilot. He was involved as project test pilot for the D.H.110/22. He also performed spinning trials on the aircraft (M.O.S. refused funding for spinning trials). He was the chase pilot for the maiden flight of the Trident. He displayed the Trident 3B at the S.B.A.C show at Farnborough with . John Cunningham in the right hand seat (the only time that he ever occupied the right seat at a Farnborough display).

In 1972, he piloted the delivery of the first and second Tridents to China ,planning the route which had to be approved by the Foreign Office. He spent three months in China training Chinese Crews.
He was a Shuttleworth Collection display pilot between 1964-2005. He has flown over 300 types.  He restored two aircraft a 1932 Arrow Active, G-ABVE which was a racing and aerobatic biplane. He came 2nd in the 1980 King's Cup race ( in the only open cockpit, non wheel-brakes, non radio biplane) and owned this aircraft for 23 years. He also owned for 17years the 1936 Percival Mew Gull, G-AEXF, racing monoplane (which was famously flown by Alex Henshaw).  He is Vice President: Historic Aircraft Association, Vintage Aircraft Club. On the 2nd October 2012, Loughborough University honored Desmond by naming their new Atrium of the Aeronautical Department after him.
In 2015 Loughborough University  awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Technology
for  "significant contribution to aviation safety''
In September 2016, he was elected an honorary fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots

Thursday, April 12, 2012

John de Havilland 1918-1943

John de Havilland was a little under 25 years of age when he was killed during a test flight of a de Havilland Mosquito Mark VI, flying with flight test observer John H. F. Scrope, he collided in the vicinity of St Albans with another Mosquito Mark VI flown by pilot George Gibbins. Both aircraft were made of wood, and disintegrated in the air, killing all four occupants aboard.

He was the third son of Capt. Geoffrey de Havilland, founder and technical director of the De Havilland Aircraft Co., Ltd. John de Havilland was a sergeant in the R.A.F.V.R. before
the war, but was released to become a test pilot to his father's firm. Capt. de Havilland's other sons, Geoffrey and Peter, were also test pilots to the company, Geoffrey being chief test pilot.