Monday, October 22, 2012

Walter Shirley 19xx-1993


Walter Shirley (left) with Mike Randrup


Scorpion Engined Canberra B.2, WK163
In August 1957, Canberra B.2 WK163 captured the world altitude record. Fitted with a Napier "Double Scorpion" NScD1/2 rocket motor.WK163 achieved a height of 70,310 feet


Walter Shirley, Chief Engineer of D.Napier and Sons was observer on the Record setting altitude flight. When Napiers folded, Walter Shirley transferred to BAe and worked as a Flight Test engineer on the MRCA (Tornado) programme.  Walter described the development programme for the twin Scorpion rocket programme flown using the Canberra to Dave Eagles. There was concern that the rocket flame path which extended under the Canberra belly would grow dangerously close to the skin as indicated airspeed reduced at high altitude. He devised a crude but effective way of checking the flame path. He fitted an array of silver solder bars protruding from the a/c belly and with a series of flights was able to observe, post flight, the pattern of the flame path as indicated by the material burnt away, and related this to the flight conditions they had set up.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Alan Sutcliffe DFM 19xx-1949

Alan Sutcliffe had a distinguished R.A.F. career he was awarded the D.F.M. as a bomber pilot. He completed tours with No. 85 Squadron (Mosquito night fighters) and with a fighter interception unit where he
was engaged on operational testing of new airborne radar. He spent two years as a Service test pilot in the Engine Research Flight of the R.A.E., Farnborough. He joined D.Napiers  in June 1946 as an engine test pilot. He was killed on Friday, November 4th 1949 as a result of an accident to the Tempest on which he was making a routine test flight. A colleague wrote of him: Test pilots of the calibre of Alan Sutcliffe
are rare, and his loss will be felt acutely by his company and by the industry as a whole. Those who knew him will have lost a staunch companion and loyal friend.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Frederic A.Madenwald III 1951 - 2012



Frederic Albert Madenwald, III was born in Beaumont, Texas,on April 13, 1951, he passed away on August 5, 2012. He was laid to rest at Bakersfield National Cemetery on the afternoon of August 10, 2012, with full military honours. Fred completed a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, followed by more than 20 years of Marine Corps service as a fighter pilot and a test pilot.He served two tours as an instructor pilot at Patuxent River Naval Air Station Test Pilot School.After retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel, Fred worked another 20 years as an experimental test pilot and flight test director,distinguishing his career with the first flight of the F-18 Super Hornet E/F.He was honoured by being elected as Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.In the full span of his career, he logged over 4,000 hours in more than 11 different tactical aircraft.

Denis Prost

JM Besse (left and Denis Prost



On 13 May 1971, Denis Prost and Jean Marie Besse broke two speed records in the Gazelle helicopter class: 307km/h over 3 km and 296km/h over a 100 km closed course.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Robert “Bob” Brookes 1941 -







Robert “Bob” Brookes born October 1941 joined Westland Aircraft Ltd as an engineering apprentice in 1957. Educated at Yeovil Technical College and later The Open University, Bob worked initially in the Mechanical Section of the Design Office and then the Advanced Projects Office before transferring to the Development Department to assist in the type testing of the Wessex Mk 2 helicopter. Transfer to the Flight Test Department in early 1966 led to participation in flight trials of the Wessex Mk3 and in the datum trials of the Sikorsky SH3D helicopter (XV370) prior to conversion to  UK Sea King equipment standard. Participation in the intensive flight programme of the Westland built Sea King Mk1 for the Royal Navy then followed. A similar programme, with the conversion of an Aerospatiale prototype SA330 to UK equipment standard prior to entry into RAF service of the Westland built Puma HC Mk1 then followed. In the mid 1970’s he became lead Flight Test Engineer for the Utility version of the Lynx and subsequently for weapon systems clearance for all helicopter types. Following promotion to Chief Flight Test Engineer there followed the development and certification of the Westland 30 series of helicopters. He left the Flight Test Department to become Chief Instrumentation Engineer 1987, Deputy Chief Development Engineer 1990, and then Deputy Chief Designer(Development) EH101 1998. Following the completion of the EH101 development programme and the introduction into service of the Merlin Mk1 and Mk3 he enjoyed a final spell as Chief Flight Test Engineer overseeing further flight development of Merlin, Apache and Lynx upgrades, prior to retiring in October 2001.

Bob was a founding member of the European Chapter of the Society of Flight Test Engineers in 1987

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Brian McCann

Brian McCann - BAC TSR Navigator/Observer.

Donald Bowen






XR219, the first British Aircraft Corporation TSR.2, took off on its maiden flight at 1528hr local time on Sunday, September 27th 1964. The white-painted strike/reconnaissance aircraft is based at the Ministry of Aviation's Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down, Wilts, and was flown by Mr R. P. Beamont, BAC deputy chief test pilot, and Mr Donald Bowen, BAC chief test navigator, TSR.2.