Friday, 20 December 2013

Rolf Dudley-Williams 1908-1987

Williams was born in Plymouth and educated at Plymouth College.He joined the RAF cadet scheme in 1926 and studied at the RAF college at Cranwell. He was gazetted in 1928 and appointed a Flying Officer in 1930. From 1933 he was stationed at the Central Flying School, but the next year an injury saw him invalided out of the service.
Deciding to go into business, Williams joined with fellow Cranwell pupil Frank Whittle and fellow ex-RAF officer James Collingwood Tinling to set up Power Jets Ltd in 1936 to develop Whittle's idea of jet engines for aircraft. In 1941 he was appointed Managing Director, and in 1944 he joined the Council of the SBAC and was made a Companion of the Royal Aeronautical Scoiety.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

George Hislop CBE 1914-2013


George Steedman Hislop was born on February 11 1914 in Edinburgh and educated at Clydebank High School. After serving an apprenticeship as a fitter and completing a Higher National Certificate in mechanical engineering, he attended the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, and took a First-class external degree from London University. He was awarded a James Caird scholarship in Aeronautics to pursue research at Cambridge, where he gained his doctorate and joined the University Air Squadron, training as a pilot.

In November 1939 Hislop joined the A&AEE, where he worked on the development of fighters and bombers operating at high altitude and the associated meteorological and physiological problems; he also joined many test flights as an observer. Hislop was first introduced to the helicopter during his wartime work at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down. In late 1944 the helicopter arrived there for trials, and he had his first flight in the basic Sikorsky R4.
Hislop transferred to Farnborough in April 1945 as a senior scientific officer, looking at the behaviour of aircraft flying at high speed, but was soon asked to carry out exploratory research work on helicopters.He flew regularly on test flights of the R4 . It was the beginning of his long association with rotary wing aircraftTwo years later he joined British European Airways’ research and long-term development department, which resulted in the formation of British Airways Helicopters.

Hislop was the senior assistant involved in the monitoring, programming and financial control of the unit. Initially, the main activity was a night postal service in East Anglia, but the long-term goal was carrying passengers between cities.

When in 1952 the Ministry of Civil Aviation asked for a large intercity passenger-carrying helicopter, Fairey Aviation’s proposal was accepted. A year later Hislop joined Fairey as chief designer (helicopters) responsible for building and testing the 40-seat Fairey Rotodyne. This complex aircraft was well ahead of its time, drawing a letter of intent from BEA; there was also interest from some American airlines. But when BEA pulled out of the project the Rotodyne was cancelled in 1962.
Hislop developed the ultralight helicopter, which was later developed into the highly successful Scout and Wasp military helicopters.
In 1960 Westland Aircraft took over Fairey, and Hislop joined the parent company. Two years later he was appointed technical director, later becoming managing director and, in 1973, executive vice-chairman. During this period he led the development and introduction into service of six types of military helicopter, including the Wessex and Sea King. He also played a major role in launching the production of the giant Anglo-French helicopter programme which led to the Gazelle and the Lynx, both built in large numbers — an advanced Lynx is still in operational service.
Hislop served as chairman of the council of the Helicopter Association of Great Britain and as its vice-president. He was president, in 1973, of the Royal Aeronautical Society, which in 1961 had awarded him the Simms Gold Medal . He also received the British Gold Medal for Aeronautics (1972) and the Royal Aero Club’s Louis Breguet Memorial Trophy.
He served as chairman of the Aircraft Research Association and of the Airworthiness Requirements Board.
He was appointed CBE in 1976.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Ronald Ashford CBE 1932-2008

Ronald Ashford was born in Wokingham, Berkshire, in 1932 and attended St Edward’s School, Oxford, from where he went to the De Havilland Aeronautical Technical School in 1949. As he served his apprenticeship, Ashford took flying lessons. Possession of a private pilot’s licence was professionally useful but flying was, for Ashford, also a leisure pursuit. He was an active private pilot from 1950 until 1997.
Ashford joined De Havilland in 1953. For his National Service he took an RAF short-service commission, returning to Hatfield in 1958. Over the next ten years he flew alongside test pilots with De Havilland and then with Hawker Siddeley when the two companies merged in 1959. Besides the Comet, he worked on test flights for the Trident and the DH125 corporate jet. He also worked on the Royal Navy’s DH110 Sea Vixen, an earlier model of which had crashed at the 1952 Farnborough air show, killing both crew and 29 spectators.
By the mid 1960s, Hatfield began to lose its lustre as an aerospace development centre. Ashford moved in 1968 to the Air Registration Board, the organisation responsible for setting and overseeing technical safety standards for British aircraft. He saw it rolled into the Civil Aviation Authority in 1972, becoming director general of the airworthiness division in 1983, and head of the operational safety division in 1987.
Ashford was involved in the investigation into the Manchester air disaster of 1985, in which 54 people died when a British Airtours Boeing 737 caught fire. Many of the deaths were caused by smoke inhalation and the accident prompted calls for aircraft to carry protective fire hoods for passengers. Ashford commissioned research into that idea and into cabin sprinkler systems together with the improvement of access to passenger exits. After research and testing it was concluded that the difficulties created by smoke hoods and sprinklers outweighed their potential benefits. However, much improvement in the access to and usability of exits was achieved and is now required as a standard.
At the ARB and the CAA Ashford worked with Concorde teams in the radical rethinking of standards that hitherto had applied to subsonic airliners. From the Anglo-French project there emerged close co-operation between European airworthiness authorities, eventually leqading to the Joint Aviation Authorities, based near Amsterdam. Ashford was the senior CAA member with the JAA from 1989, and on leaving the CAA in 1992 he was its secretary general, a full time office, until 1994.