Friday, April 25, 2008

F/lt Robert Plenderleith DFC 1919-2005

Robert Plenderleith joined the RAFVR in 1937 and the RAF in 1939, serving in Fighter Command throughout the Second World War before becoming a test pilot.

He was one of the first pilots to see action in France in May 1940, when 73 Sqn in which he was serving, was one of two Hurricane squadrons sent to resist the German advance. They returned to England after the fall of France. He was awarded the DFC for his service. He was shot down by a Me109 on the 11th October 1940, receiving burns to his face. While recovering from his injuries he served as a flying instructor but went back to Operational flying in North Africa and Italy. In 1944 he joined Maintenance Command and was M.U. test pilot until 1947.

He joined the de Havilland Engine Company at Hatfield in 1947 and worked on Vampire and Venom jet fighters. He flew the Gyron engined Sperrin at the 1955 SBAC show at Farnborough. He was made Deputy Chief Test Pilot in 1957. He undertook a course with Saunders-Roe on the Skeeter, preparatory to flight testing the turbo-supercharged version of the Gipsy Major 215 and later the Gnome turboshaft unit.He transferred to Rolls-Royce at Leavesden where he became a helicopter test pilot.

At the end of his flying career he became the company’s marketing promotions manager.