Saturday, January 03, 2009

Frank 'Spud' Murphy DFC OBE 1917-1997

Frank Murphy was born at Bolton,Lancashire, on Jan 19th 1917. When he was five the family emigrated to New Zealand,where he went to school and university. After working as a clerk,he persuaded the Royal New Zealand Air Force to accept him for wartime training as a pilot,despite his medical record. In March 1942 he was posted as a sergeant-pilot to No486, a New Zealand fighter squadron equipped with Hawker Hurricanes at Wittering. Not long afterwards,the squadron re-equipped with Hawker Typhoons, and later with Tempest V's. In 1943, as Murphy(nicknamed 'the flying potato') began to claim successes (eventually claiming 5 victories) he was commissioned pilot officer and later squadron leader.
In early 1944 as a 'rest' from operations he was attached to the Hawker Aircraft Company as a test pilot. Murphy tested a series of fighter aircraft, including the Fury, Tempest V,VI and VII. He also helped introduce the Hunter. At the end of his service he was appointed OBE.
From 1955 Murphy worked in technical sales for Hawker. He was foreign sales manager from 1959 to 1962,responsible for international sales for Hawker Siddeley Aviation.
In 1956 Murphy navigated the Hunter on flights which established new London-Rome and Rome-London records. He also held the piston-engined British National 100km close circuit record. In 1971 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.