Saturday, November 24, 2007

Sqn Ldr John S. Booth DFC* 1919-1958

John Booth with the Saunders Roe SR53

John Stanley Booth was born on 9 December 1919 at Totties, near Huddersfield in Yorkshire. He entered the RAF on a short service commission in December 1938 and served in various training units until October 1939, when he was sent to France with No. 59 Army Co-operation Squadron within the British Expeditionary Force.Booth earned the DFC during that first tour of operations. but he was wounded in May 1940 and was evacuated to England, where he stayed at the Hatfield Military Hospital until August 1940. Discharged from hospital, he served as a fying instructor in variuous units, until December 1940. In the following January, he was sent to Canada and there served as a flying instructor, earning his qualification as Flying Instructor by the CFS on 11 Februyary 1942.

A year later, in March 1943, Booth delivered a Boston bomber from Montreal to Prestwick, serving with the RAF Ferry Command at Dorval city, with which he stayed in April 1943.In May, Booth began his second tour of operations, serving successively with 51 OTU and 125, 151 and 239 Night Fighter Squadrons. During this period, Booth was awarded a Bar to his DFC after serving with Bomber Command on night intruder operations, until October 1944.

Booth's first experience of test flying was at Boscombe Down, where he served as a test pilot from October 1944 to March 1945. That month, he enrolled at the ETPS and completed No. 3 Course on 15 December 1945.In February 1946, Booth became one of a group of pilots who worked with Sir Frank Whittle at Power Jets (R&D) Ltd. He left that company in October, then in November that year he joined Short Brothers and Harland, Ltd as a test pilot, remaining with them until January 1949. He went to Saunders-Roe in February 1949, as deputy to their Chief Test Pilot Geoffrey Tyson. Booth became their Chief Test Pilot in February 1956 and flew the famous SR.1A flying jet boat and took part in tests of the Princess flying boat. He flew the prototype SR.53 on its initial flight at Boscombe Down on 1616 May 1957made 33 flights on the SR.53) but was killed on 5 June 1958 in the crash of the second SR.53 prototype, number XD151, on take-off.

A few days later he was posthumously awarded the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air