Tuesday, January 31, 2006

John David Eagles AFC 1936-

David Eagle's route into flying was via UK National Service. In 1953, all boys had to do 2 years with one of the Services . Dave had read a glamorous account of the lives of Fleet Air Arm pilots during WW2, so he applied. He did 6 months as an Aviation Cadet on HMS Indefatigable, mainly tied up in PortlandHarbour.

Then, after 15 months flying training with the US Navy (1954) flying Harvard‘s (SNJ‘s) at Pensacola Florida and T28‘s and F9F2 Panthers at Kingsville Texas he returned to the UK to convert to Vampire and Seahawk.
He then spent 2 years on loan service with the Australian Fleet Air Arm at Nowra,flying Firefly and SeaFury.

On his return to the UK , Dave entered the Empire Test Pilots School (1963) and spent 3 years at Boscombe Down flight testing Buccaneer, Sea Vixen Mk 2, Scimitar etc and stealing the odd trip in RAF aircraft like Javelin, Lightning , Vulcan and Gnat. He familiarised himslef with the Martin Baker ejection seat during a Buccaneer catapult launch trial off HongKong in 1966 and returned to the Navy proper to lead the BuccaneerAeros team at Farnborough in 1968.

Dave joined BritishAerospace as a test pilot, getting involved in Strikemaster, Lightning, Canberra, Jaguar, Tornado and finally the EAP (making the 1st flight on the 8th August 1986) which was the forerunner of today‘s Eurofighter Typhoon.

He became Chief Test Pilot and then Director Flight Operations for BAe (Military) and as such, enjoyed the perks of flying the Spitfire and the English Electric Wren. Due to age limit of 50 for military test flying,aged 51 he became Deputy MD of Panavia. Panavia is the tri-national Company based in Munich which co-ordinates the manufacture and support of the Tornado aircraft, which is still the main weapon system for the RAF, the Luftwaffe and the Italian Air Force. Dave retired early to NZ, which is his wife‘s birthplace, and joined McGregor & Co. as a consultant. In 1996 he was invited back to Germany for a year to help DASA sort out their ailing FlightTest Department, where they were running the Eurofighter, the German F4, the Mig 29 and the C160 programmes.