Duncan Simpson

Duncan Simpson    23rd December 1927 –  7th December 2017

Duncan Simpson. Photo from Tangmere Military Aviation Museum

We very much regret to announce the death on 7th December of Duncan Simpson OBE CEng FRAes FIMechE

Duncan was at the forefront of UK military aviation for many years.  He played a key role in the development of the Hunter fighter, the Harrier and Sea Harrier, and led development of the Hawk advanced trainer also flown by the Red Arrows.

His link with Dunsfold is inextricable –   Simpson joined Hawker in 1954 and became Hawker’s Chief Test Pilot in 1970, notable that he flew the P.1127 as well as making the first flight in a Hawk.  He was Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in 2002, and in 2011 received the Guild’s Award of Honour in recognition of his outstanding lifetime contribution to aviation.  He was also a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.

Latterly he  served with distinction as the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum’s Honorary President from 2007 until 2013.

His son John contacted the Heritage Society to inform us of his father’s passing:  “He died peacefully at his home on Thursday 7th December 2017 having endured severe ill health since early 2015.  We are aware of the highly valued relationship he had with all those at Dunsfold. We would very much appreciate it if you could please pass on this message to others who remember him.  Any former colleagues or close friends we would very much like to hear from.  Messages can be sent to dmssimpson@btconnect.com .     A Memorial Service is being held at St Clement Danes WC2R 1DH on Tuesday 24th April at 11am and after at the RAF Club W1J 7PY.  Any donations please to the RAF Benevolent Fund.

A Memorial Service to celebrate his life will take place at St Clements Dane’s on Tuesday, 24th April 2018″

A short profile of Duncan is here.

Chronology of Test Pilots

Photo credit Bill Burroughs

Dunsfold was second home to a lot of people in the last 70 years. We hope to build a record of just some of those people that are a significant part of the history of the aerodrome.   We will be adding more information over the coming months – additional information and corrections most welcome.

Dunsfold Chief Test Pilots in chronological order:

Dunsfold Test Pilots in chronological order:

  • Mike Oliver,
  • Jim Hawkins DCTP, French TP School   July 1986  
  • Taylor Scott DCTP FAA    October 1987
  • Paul Hopkins, Hawk 200 Project Pilot    1985 – 1988
  • Simon Hargreaves,FAA FRS2 / FA2    1992 – 1996
  • Mark Bowman 1998
  • Rod Frederiksen,  Falklands Ace TP  Late 80’s-early 90’s             
  • Steve Thomas, Falklands Ace TP  1992
  • Jim Ludford  Early 1990’s
  • Bernie Scot  Early 1990’s

Production Test pilots:

  • Frank Bullen,  WWII Spitfires &Mustangs,TP 49 – 60 ( Prod CTP 1955 – 1960 ) Later local Councillor.
  • Frank Murphy OBE, WWII Hurricanes,Typhoons, Tempests,  TP   1944 – 1955 ( inc Hunter crash at Ford )
  • David Lockspeiser 1955 – ? ( inc LDA-1 Boxer 1971 – 1987 )

Comms Pilots:

  • Mike Oliver,
  • Dick Whittington, WWII fighters, Test Pilot inc CTP Gnats.
  • Chris Darwin, FAA Phantoms, Dunsfold 1980’s