Sunday, 28 February 2010

John William Fozard OBE 1928-1996

John Fozard (right) with Test Pilot John Farley

John William Fozard was the chief designer of the Harrier Jump Jet aircraft.
Forty plus years after its maiden flight in 1966, the vertical take-off Harrier continues to fly operationally with the RAF, and also with the US Marine Corps and the Spanish Navy.
In 1963 Fozard was appointed Chief Designer on the project to build the Hawker P 1154 Kestrel, the forerunner of the Harrier, and he came to the revolutionary concept of Vertical/Short Take-off and Landing with a strong reputation.
After serving an engineering apprenticeship with Blackburn Aircraft, he had joined Hawkers in 1950 as a design engineer under Sir Sydney Camm, whose historic designs included the Hart (1928), and the Hurricane prototype (1935).
As Fozard nursed the Harrier into being it was obvious to old Hawker hands that something of Camm had rubbed off on him. "Cammisms" were instantly recognisable even when camouflaged in "Fozprose", as his immaculate memoranda, correspondence and papers were termed.
His clarity of presentation, plain speaking and directness of approach were weapons in his career-long war against the reputed inarticulacy of engineers.
Fozard also believed in making himself available not only to members of his design and development team but also to those who, borrowing from Camm, he described as "fringe" people. He always found time to discuss difficulties and progress with them.
Fozard called the Harrier "the world's most misunderstood aircraft". Reflecting on his long battle to gain acceptance for Vertical Take-off and Landing, Fozard, pipe in hand and pushing back in his office chair, would explain the resistance: "The military man wants things he knows something about - more and better. He does not want to change quickly, and stays with the familiar - longer range, better airfields, bigger than before."