Don Riches

Hawker Siddeley Test Pilot 1968-1980

Don Riches

Donald Riches, was a Squadron Leader in the RAF. He was posted to Singapore in the early 60’s and subsequently to Devon and then Norway.

In August 1968, Don Riches completed his posting with the Norwegian Air Force 336 SKV at Rygge and took up his new posting at Dunsfold with Hawker Siddeley as Squadron Leader on secondment from the RAF due to the belief that both the Navy and Air Force would be purchasing Harriers and Sea Harriers in the future.  After a couple of years, he was asked by Hawker Siddeley if he wanted to give up his RAF career and continue as a test pilot for them. 

Don was test flying the Harrier and the Hawk. He flew at the Paris and Farnborough airshows. His contemporaries at his time at Dunsfold were Andy Jones, John Farley, Dick Whittington, Jim Hawkins and Duncan Simpson.

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Pilots of 320 Squadron Facebook page.

Son of airgunner Richard Heinrich Tessers. I have start a special new webpage on Facebook in memory of all pilots and crews who was at the sq.320 RAF/MLD Mitchell´s at Dunsfold, also at the training schools and later at 8 okt. moved to Melsbroek Belgium. If you have pictures of crews in front of the Mitchell of the Dutch ones, if you know that family had a family or crew member with the sq.320 RAF/MLD let me know that they can tell their stories and put pictures on my webpage, here is the link.

Hawker’s Secret Cold War Airfield:

Dunsfold: Home of the Hunter and Harrier

by Christopher Budgen

A new book will be available in July. Amazon Link

Author Christopher Budgen has spent his life imbued with military aviation. His father and two uncles all served with the RAF during and after the Second World War. His father, Maurice, served in India on Liberators and Tempests before working for Skyways at Dunsfold during the Berlin Airlift and subsequently for Hawker Aircraft as they started production of the superlative Hunter at the aerodrome. Chris followed his father into employment at Dunsfold in the 1970s, initially working on RAF and export Hawks before moving on to Harrier and Sea Harrier. A move to Development saw him become involved in the launch of the Sea Harrier FRS.2 and the HS.125 flying test-bed, as well as numerous trials on the Harrier GR.5 and GR.7. The author of several books on the history of the area and an authority on Hawker aircraft and Dunsfold, Chris is currently engaged as archivist at Brooklands Museum specialising in Hawker and successor companies. Having spent twenty-one years working at Dunsfold, his knowledge allows him to shine a light onto aspects of the company and airfield not widely recognised. Given his family’s close links to the land upon which Dunsfold was subsequently built, Chris is well-placed to tell the story of this previously closed and secretive community.

Napier-Railton parachute test vehicle

In 1951 the Napier-Railton was purchased by the GQ Parachute Company of Woking to test aircraft parachutes at Dunsfold airfield. GQ had the car modified with the addition of specially made disk brakes and fitted with test equipment capable of deploying an aircraft braking parachute at high speed, and then retracting the parachute when the speed had dropped to about 30 knots. The car was normally driven by Sir Geoffrey Quilter but also other members of the company. When the testing work had been completed, the car was sold on to be raced in VSCC meetings.

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Last Harrier flying in civilian hands

Art Nalls has announced he wishes to sell his two Sea Harriers. Art currently flies his FA.2 formerly XZ439 originally from Dunsfold and now the oldest Sea Harrier in existence, as well as a two-seat Harrier T.8 (ZD993). Neither aircraft would be permitted to fly in the UK. http://warbirdsnews.com/warbird-articles/art-nalls-hawker-siddeley-harrier-fleet-for-sale.html

You can find more about Art’s passion for Harriers here.

Dunsfold: 439 as FRS2, before pitot change. Photo: Andy Lawson, BAe Systems

VC10 open day 12th October

Brooklands are hosting another open day this month where you can visit the VC10 at Dunsfold.

https://www.brooklandsmuseum.com/whats-on/vc10-za150-open-day-at-dunsfold-aerodrome

We understand their Napier Railton will also be on display. https://www.brooklandsmuseum.com/explore/our-collection/cars/napier-railton

In 1951 the car was sold to the GQ Parachute Company of Woking. GQ had the car modified and fitted with test equipment capable of deploying an aircraft braking parachute at high speed and then retracting the parachute when the speed had dropped to about 30 knots. These experimental trials were carried out on Dunsfold airfield and proved to be most successful.

Memorial unveiled to commemorate Pallinghurst crash in 1944

Read the Surrey Advertiser article on the recent unveiling of a memorial to the crew of a B-25 Mitchell that was downed in a mid-air collision near Dunsfold: https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/horror-dunsfold-story-how-two-16956700

You can read the background to the story and see the research conducted by Dunsfold Airfield History Society researcher Frank Phillipson here.

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