Simpson joined Hawker in 1954 and became Hawker’s Chief Test Pilot in 1970. He flew the P.1127 as well as making the first flight in a Hawk. In 2011, the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators awarded him the Guild Award of Honour in recognition of his outstanding lifetime contribution to aviation: “for his long record as a particularly accomplished pilot, his outstanding contribution to experimental test flying, his intimate involvement in bringing three iconic British Fighters – the Hunter, Harrier and Hawk – into service and his exemplary commitment to British aviation generally”.
Track layout on current runway - note VTOL tethering pads next to "Hammerhead"
Top Gear Track in location on 1938 Map
The BBC Top Gear track has been laid out on the main runway of the former WWII RAF and RCAF air base. The perimeter roads used for Gambon and the finish line were laid over the route of original B-Roads that were ripped up when the airfield was constructed in 1941. One cottage, Broadmead, was situated where the TopGear FollowThrough is now, but the cottage was lifted whole and winched half a mile on rollers to the otherside of the airfield.
The engine running or detuning pens were originally built to test the aircraft engines for the Hunter.
Three pens were arranged in a curve. One has been completely removed.
Of the two remaining; the unique example survives that was used to test all ‘jump jets’ or VTOL. The VTOL pen is lined with metal sheeting and sound absorption. Channels below ground take extract for the jets nozzles. Historical significance is for the development of the ‘jump jet’, P1127 through to the Harrier. All aircraft engines were tested and run here before being assembled and shipped worldwide.
Engine running pens
Please note: The aerodrome is private land and an active airfield. Access is not permitted to some of the buildings and features and we strongly discourage access without permission.
The main runway has the rarity of the Vertical Take Off and Landing pads, (VTOL) used for the tethering of jump jets such as the Harrier, Kestrel and the P.1127 . These are also located on aprons that but up against the main runway and are within the Operational Readiness Platform [ ORP]. Beneath these gratings is a large void chamber to take the hot air, condensation and gases from the downdraft of the jet engines of the aircraft. Also within the eastern Engine Testing Pen there is a similar arrangement that is a unique feature to Dunsfold.Continue reading “VTOL sites”