Friday, April 25, 2014

S/Ldr Gordon Smith MBE 1921-2014

Born in East London, Squadron Leader Smith was a keen sportsman who played for West Ham boys’ team and excelled at athletics.
At the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the RAF and flew fighters and bombers.
His flying career continued with duties as a unit test pilot at RAF Lyneham on Spitfire and Vampire aircraft. He trained to fly helicopters and was posted to Malaya for a three-year operational tour flying troops in and out of jungle clearings.
During his time there he was also able to pursue his golfing interests, winning the prestigious Lake Cup at the Selangor Golf Club.
Returning to England, Squadron Leader Smith was posted as a test pilot at Boscombe Down when he flew in experimental helicopter trials both in the UK and abroad.
The hot and cold weather trials took him from northern Canada to North Africa and the American/Mexican border. As project pilot for the Bristol Belvedere, he flew to Tripoli in Libya breaking the existing world flight distance record for helicopters.

After 10 years at Boscombe Down he retired from the RAF to take up a helicopter instructor post at Middle Wallop, where he remained until retiring from flying 12 years later in 1981.
During his long career spanning 41 years, he flew nearly 10,000 hours in more than 100 different types of aircraft, survived three serious emergency landings and trained 120 students.
During his retirement, Squadron Leader Smith took up fly fishing and he continued to fish with a group of friends until he was well into his 90s