David Lockspeiser who has died aged 86, was a leading test pilot and an innovative aircraft designer and engineer who designed and built the Boxer utility aircraft, an “Aerial Land Rover”. Originally named the LDA-01, or Land Development Aircraft, the Boxer was intended as a multi-purpose aircraft for developing and agricultural regions. A single-seat monoplane of metal and fabric construction, it had a canard foreplane, which was the same size as each mainplane mounted at the rear of the box structure fuselage, itself fitted with a four-wheeled landing gear.
With Sea Harrier jump-jets landing on the carrier Hermes in Portsmouth, Frederiksen, who had been testing aircraft at Boscombe Down, inveigled his way aboard as an additional pilot in 800 Naval Air Squadron, under the command of Lt Cdr Andy Auld. A month later he was in the thick of war.
On May 1 Hermes entered the Total Exclusion Zone which Britain had declared around the Falklands, and Frederiksen led a bombing strike by three Harriers on the airfield at Goose Green. After taking his aircraft at wave-top height down the Falklands Sound, Frederiksen flew low over a range of hills and, completely surprising the air defences, destroyed one enemy aircraft as it was taxiing and damaged two others.
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”.
Taylor Scott joined the Royal Navy in 1964. After training he flew Sea Vixens before a tour with the US Navy,including the Fighter Weapons School (Top Gun) at NAS Mirimar.
From 1974 to 1977 Taylor was an Air Weapons Instructor flying F-4 Phantoms from Ark Royal before being appointed the Royal Navy’s Sea Harrier Project Liaison Officer at Dunsfold. Continue reading “Taylor Scott”
Hugh Merewether FRAeS(1924-2006)
Merewether was appointed Deputy Chief Test Pilot at Dunsfold in 1956. He was the second pilot to fly the P.1127. In 1963, he was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air for crash landing the P.1127 rather than ejecting and thereby saving the machine to be examined to locate the fault. He became Chief Test Pilot in 1967. Continue reading “Hugh Merewether FRAeS”
Neville Duke DSO, OBE, DFC & Two Bars AFC, FRAeS (1922-2007)
Duke had a “remarkable record” as a World War II fighter pilot, flying Spitfires over France and later, North Africa and Italy. He became a test pilot for the Hawker Aircraft Corporation in 1948. He held the world air speed record in 1953 flying a Hunter but had to retire as a test pilot in 1956 following a serious accident. Nevertheless he continued flying to the day he died, aged 85 – and not as a result of an air accident. He wrote several books including Sound Barrier, Test Pilot, The Crowded Sky and The War Diaries of Neville Duke; and even endorsed a card game named after him in 1955! Continue reading “Neville Duke DSO, OBE, DFC & Two Bars AFC”
Bill Bedford OBE AFC FRAeS (1920-1996)
Bedford was a World War II pilot, flying Hurricanes and Mustangs. From 1956 until 1963 he was Hawker Aircraft Ltd.’s Chief Test Pilot, “and then chief test pilot for Hawker Siddeley Aviation at Dunsfold from 1963 to 1967. He worked on the development of the Sea Hawk, the Hunter and the P.1127, Kestrel and the Harrier aircraft, making the first flights of all of the last three aircraft.” During this time the family lived at Primemeads Farm on Dunsfold Aerodrome. Primemeads Farm, used as wartime flight offices by 180 Squadron, is an historic building in its own right, dating from 1685. Continue reading “Bill Bedford OBE AFC”
Work on the airfield started 11th may 1942 with a bold estimate that work would be completed in 18 weeks. This was a challenge that the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Engineers, 2nd Road Construction Company & the Canadian Forestry Corps were capable of meeting using explosives and some of the heavy machinery supplied from the USA under the lease lend arrangements.
Tree stumps were blasted and from May 27th concrete was being poured in two shifts 18 hours a day. One of the obstacles encountered in the construction of the 45ft wide 3 mile perimeter road was Broadmead Cottage. It straddled the route to be taken and a swift demolition was required to keep construction within the tight timeframe. Sergeant Fred Kreugar realised special skills were required to deal with the building so ordered Sergeant Whidden to deal with the issue.