Archive for the ‘Obituaries’ Category
Now there is a lovely way to say thank you.
“Hundreds of people are expected to attend Mr Allingham’s funeral in Brighton, which will be followed by a flypast of five replica WWI aircraft.”
One of Britain’s last World War I veterans will be buried later with military honours. Henry Allingham, who was in the Royal Naval Air Service in the war and later with the RAF, was the world’s oldest man when he died 12 days ago aged 113.
Since his death, the last WWI veteran in Britain, Harry Patch, has also died. Hundreds of people are expected to attend Mr Allingham’s funeral in Brighton, which will be followed by a flypast of five replica WWI aircraft.
The Telegraph Obituary
Brigadier General Robin Olds, who has died aged 84, was one of the USAF’s most charismatic fighter pilots, achieving “ace” status during the Second World War before implementing innovative tactics during the Vietnam War, when he was widely recognised as the outstanding fighter leader during the campaign in South-East Asia.
Olds had just been promoted to colonel when he was sent in October 1966 to command the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) – the “Wolfpack” – based at Ubon in Thailand. He was 44 years old and a highly experienced fighter pilot. His views on tactics did not always accord with accepted practices and current fighter pilot training and he immediately set about introducing a new approach to combating the North Vietnamese MiG fighters.
He set the tone for his period in command by immediately placing himself on the flight schedule as a rookie pilot under officers junior to himself, then challenging them to train him properly because he would soon be leading them.
In January 1967 he led his wing over North Vietnam against the enemy’s new aggressive MiG 21s on Operation Bolo, later recognised as the most successful air battle of the Vietnam War. His detailed plan was to simulate a bomber formation using their tactics, radio callsigns and electronic counter measures. He timed the attack to arrive in the area where the MiGs would be flying a standing patrol and catch them as they returned to their airfields short of fuel. The weather was poor when Olds and his formation of Phantom F-4Cs arrived over Hanoi, but he soon caught some enemy fighters and launched two air-to-air missiles against one of them: the MiG 21 exploded.
The pilots of the 8th TFW gained the advantage and they shot down seven of the enemy and suffered no losses. Olds’ tactics, and the aggressive spirit he had given to his crews, gave them a psychological advantage over the North Vietnamese Air Force, which became very wary of the American’s superior fighters after their severe losses.
In May Olds destroyed another MiG and two weeks later he was leading his wing during one of the USAF’s biggest raids north of Hanoi when he shot down two more, making him the most successful fighter pilot during the early years of the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Air Force Cross, one of America’s highest decorations, and the Vietnam Distinguished Service Order.
When Olds left Vietnam in October 1967 he had flown 152 combat missions; his predecessor had flown 12 over a similar period of time. His wing had accounted for 24 aerial victories, a total unsurpassed by any other during the war in Vietnam.
The son of a US Army Air Corps Brigadier General, Robin Olds was born on July 14 1922 in Honolulu and spent his younger years in Virginia, where he was educated at Hampton High School before attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. He was a member of the academy football team and was selected as an All-American tackle in 1942. He completed his pilot training in 1943.
Olds joined the 434th Fighter Squadron and sailed for England in May 1944. Flying the P-38 Lightning fighter, he became an “ace” (five aerial victories) after his first two combat missions. On August 14 he shot down two Focke Wulf 190s over northern France. Eleven days later, flying on a long-range escort sortie to Rostock, he accounted for three Messerschmitt Bf 109s.
In September his squadron converted to the P-51 Mustang and he achieved his next success on October 6. He did not score again until February 9, when he downed a Bf 109 over Magdeburg. Over Berlin five days later he shot down two fighters and a month later he destroyed two more.
Promoted to major when he was 22, he took command of the 434th nine months after being the junior pilot. On April 7 he was escorting bombers deep over Germany when he shot down another Bf 109, his last success of the war. During 107 combat sorties, Olds was credited with destroying 11 aircraft on the ground during strafing attacks in addition to his 13 air-to-air successes.
To add to his US Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross, he was awarded the British DFC, for “his great skill, bravery and aggressive leadership”. He was also awarded the French Croix de Guerre.
On his return to America, Olds was assigned to the first jet squadron and was a member of the USAF’s first jet aerobatic team. In October 1948 he returned to England under a USAF-RAF exchange programme and joined the RAF’s No 1 Squadron flying Meteor jet fighters from Tangmere in Sussex. Six months later Olds took command of No 1, the first USAF exchange officer to command an RAF squadron.
He later served as the commander of a Sabre fighter wing based in Germany before assuming a staff appointment in Washington. In September 1963 Olds was given command of the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing at Bentwaters in Suffolk, flying the F-101 Voodoo fighter-bomber.
On completion of his one-year tour of duty in Vietnam, Olds was promoted to brigadier general and became the commandant of cadets at the US Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs.
In February 1971 he became the Director of Aerospace Safety, but was soon restless to return to flying operations. He offered to drop a rank to take command of a fighter wing in Vietnam, but when this was refused he retired to the ski slopes of Colorado in June 1973.
Olds was the epitome of the aggressive fighter pilot who led from the front. He was a flamboyant and courageous leader and one of his senior pilots in Vietnam commented: “Quite simply, he was a leader of men to an extent that few have become, and the finest USAF fighter pilots of the day worked their way to Ubon to follow this icon into combat.”
During his time in Vietnam he grew an extravagant waxed handlebar mustache as a mark of his individuality. On his return home he soon discovered that not everyone appreciated his maverick behavior. When he reported to the Air Force Chief in Washington, he stood to attention and saluted. The Chief walked up to him, stuck a finger under his nose and said: “Get it off.” Olds replied: “Yes, sir.”
Olds was inducted into the US National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2001 when he became the only person to be enshrined in the Aviation Hall and the College Football Hall of Fame.
Until a few months before his death he remained in great demand as a speaker and lecturer for his inspirational and motivational talks.
Robin Olds died on June 14. In 1947 he married the Hollywood actress Ella Raines; they separated in 1975. She died in 1988, when he married his second wife Morgan. They were later divorced. Two daughters survive him from his first marriage.
The quintessential fighter leader.
As I write this I look across the room to see two worn books sitting on the shelf. Weather Flying and Flying Know How were volumes that I pawed through as a lad hoping to glean something I could use ‘up there’ – I wasn’t dissapointed.
Bob Buck wrote beautifully and with great authority. It is sad to see him go but at ninety three I doubt that he would complain about the length of his run.
Aero-News did this piece on him, it covers his life well in a journalistic sense but for me and many others, his quiet conversational tone ‘over my shoulder’ will our lasting memory of him. I don’t know if they have an aviator’s hall of fame in the US, if they do, this man belongs in it. A life well lived I would say from this range. He and Ernie’ Gann should have a lot to talk about up there…. between trips.
Wikipedia on Bob
Aero-News Bob Buck
It is with sadness Aero-News recently learned Robert N. Buck, 93, died April 14 in a Berlin, VT hospital of complications from a fall. The former Trans World Airlines pilot and aviation author set flying records as a teenager in the 1930s and flew severe-weather research missions during World War II.
Buck began his stellar aviation career as a 15-year-old glider pilot in New Jersey in 1929. The longtime AOPA Air Safety Foundation Board of Visitors member flew until he was 88.
“He remembered staring out of the window in ninth grade and dreaming about flying; it was just the love of his life,” daughter Ferris Buck said.
She said her father instructed her and her brother Rob, a retired Delta Airlines pilot, to never hold a formal “celebration of life” for him after his death.
“So we had a party for him at his house Sunday,” she said. “At the end of the party, some of the local pilots did a fly-by, and one young man did incredible stunts over the house.
“A retired pilot friend of mine said, ‘Whenever I saw your father, I was awestruck because he was one of the real aviators, and we just came later,’” she added.
Buck was born in on Jan. 29, 1914, in Elizabethport, NJ and grew up in Westfield. When he was 15, he and a fellow high school student built and flew their own glider, which was towed by a Model A Ford at a local grass airstrip.
In April 1930, the 16-year-old Buck earned his private pilot’s license and set a 15,000-foot junior altitude record three months later.
On September 29, 1930 — reportedly equipped with six chocolate bars and a canteen — Buck climbed into a Pitcairn Mailwing at Newark Airport and took off for Los Angeles making an attempt at the junior transcontinental airspeed record, which he did by an hour and eight minutes.
According to an Associated Press account, the seven-stop flight lasted 28 hours and 33 minutes. Buck set another junior record on his return trip to Newark: 23 hours and 47 minutes, according to his log book.
He told the story of his early days as a pilot in his first book, “Burning Up the Sky,” published in 1931 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons. The press dubbed him “The Schoolboy Pilot.”
Buck’s long list of records also included a flight from Newark to Havana in 1931 in 14 hours and 47 minutes, according to the family. He and his parents later met with President Herbert Hoover at the White House, where Buck presented Hoover with a foot-long Cuban cigar.
Buck also established a Newark-to-Mexico City junior record in 1932 of 24 hours and nine minutes, according to a Times account.
Then, in 1936, at the age of 22, Buck established a nonstop long-distance record in a straight flight from Burbank to Columbus, OH. The next year, he joined TWA (then Transcontinental and Western Air) as a co-pilot rising to captain three years later.
“When I was a young captain — and I looked young — some lady said to the hostess, ‘Is that the co-pilot?’ And she said, “No, that’s the captain.’ And she got off the airplane at Pittsburgh,” Buck recalled in a 2002 interview with National Public Radio.
He also flew as a civilian pilot for the Air Transport Command during World War II flying personnel and material to the African and European theaters.
When TWA was awarded an Army Air Forces project to research weather during the war, Buck served as the project’s pilot and manager, flying a B-17 from Alaska to Brazil to investigate radio interference from static caused by precipitation, including rain and snow, according to the Times.
“I was able to put my nose in any kind of weather I wanted to fly through,” he said in the National Public Radio interview. “We’d sit around, waiting until the weather was bad and then go fly through it.”
As a result, he became one of the few civilians to be awarded the Air Medal for his weather research.
Buck was named TWA’s superintendent of flying (chief pilot to us) in 1945 and was command captain in the delivery of the carrier’s first Lockheed Constellation, the modern pressurized, four-engine, high-speed transport of its time.
Buck, who served on weather and air safety committees for what later became NASA, won the Air Line Pilots Assn. Air Safety Award in 1963. He also served on the FAA’s Supersonic Transport Committee.
He flew a DC-3 with actor Tyrone Power on a 20th Century Fox publicity trip through South America, Africa and Europe. Power, who had been a Marine C-46 Transport pilot during the war, did a majority of the flying and became a close friend of Buck.
In 1965, he made a round-the-world trip that covered both poles flying a Boeing 707 in shifts with several other pilots. In 1970, he inaugurated TWA’s New York-to-London and New York-to-Paris 747 service.
He was forced into retirement from TWA at the requisite age of 60 in 1974 but continued to fly general aviation aircraft, including sailplanes.
Buck’s 1970 book “Weather Flying,” is considered a must-read for pilots. He also wrote “Flying Know-How,” “The Art of Flying,” “The Pilot’s Burden: Flying Safely and the Roots of Pilot Error” and “North Star Over My Shoulder,” his 2002 memoir.
“Bob Buck was indeed captain to a whole generation of pilots,” said Dr. Ian Blair Fries, a fellow Air Safety Foundation Board of Visitors member. “His ‘Weather Flying’ began as a giveaway brochure for an aviation insurance company and grew into the best commentary we have on flying and weather. His thoughtful proposal to the novice on how to tackle easy weather situations first still provides the best way to assess the difficulty of any IFR flight. We who have known him have been honored and will miss his sage advice.”
Buck was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Jean, in 2004, but he continued to live independently, his daughter said.
“The night before he fell down, he made dinner for my husband and me — beef brisket and homemade pumpkin pie,” she said. “He did all his own mowing and cooking. He really was a remarkable man.”
Robert N. Buck has gone west. For most, the skies there are clear… but we imagine Buck was greeted by some stormy weather. And he wouldn’t have had it any other way.
The Telegraph has reported the passing of yet another legend of the British aviation scene. I will leave it to the professionals at the paper who do it so well to present you his obituary.
Strange isn’t it that wrinkled singers of popular songs, showbiz personalities and other ‘faces’ receive acknowledgement, fanfare and honors by the dozen?
Read of Neville Duke’s contribution to our nation and ponder on the level of his reward for services rendered. I think a Knighthood might have been appropriate at some stage, don’t you? In the absence of that, perhaps a little assistance with this problem below would have been more appreciated. A grateful nation and a land fit for heroes?
The Telegraph, 2005
One of the most decorated British fighter pilots of the Second World War has sold his medals, diaries and other memorabilia partly to pay for a hip replacement operation for his wife who faced at least a six-month wait on the National Health Service.
Sqn Ldr Neville Duke, 83, the Royal Air Force’s top-scoring ace in the Mediterranean theatre who set a world air speed record of 728 mph in 1953, put the collection up for auction rather than subject his wife Gwen to months of pain and discomfort while she waited for an operation.
The standard waiting time for hip replacements in the orthopaedic department at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, one of the nearest facilities to the Dukes’ home, is six months.
Mrs Duke, who has been in pain with her hip for eight months, was told by her chiropractor that the wait might be 15 months.
Before the sale Mrs Duke, 85, explained: “It is very likely I will need a new hip and that is something we just cannot afford. If I went on a NHS waiting list I would have to wait forever, and at my age that’s no good.
‘By selling Neville’s things we will be able to pay for the hip. We pulled out of BUPA because they practically doubled the rate when we reached 60.
Buy his book
Thank you Sir, rest well.
‘Aviation Legend’ is a often misused term, it gets everywhere; across the pages of magazines that should know better and maybe preserve the title for the deserving few. Traditional heroes are chiseled and shaped by war and propaganda into a figures that not many of their contemporaries would recognize.
You couldn’t wander the display circuit in the seventies without stumbling across the odd one here and there. In this way I met Douglas Bader and Ginger Lacy. Douglas briefly and Ginger for a couple of hours sat in a circle on the grass next to our aircraft. Douglas was instantly recognizable from Kenneth More’s portrayal of him in the film Reach for the sky. He had lost none of his charismatic, pugnacious character to time and had something approaching God-like status amongst the eminent company that surrounded us at Biggin Hill during the UK’s premier ‘Air Day’.
Ginger was a gent with a twinkle in his eye and a passion for flying that he had maintained through the war and beyond. He was teaching people to fly at his own flying club on the windswept coast of Northern England at he tender age of sixty one. He inspired great respect and affection, even after the shortest meeting.
There are memorable moments in the display world where the sheer artistry of a performance defines the true master. I remember watching Ray Hannah practice his display sequence at Booker late one summer evening in a Spitfire Mk IX, – it was exquisite to the point of terrifying. I would have given him 2 points for his consideration for the preservation of a treasure, but 100 for his virtuoso performance.
He left no margin for error, but displayed that thoroughbred in a breathtaking way, I have never seen the like since and nor am I likely to.
Neil Williams was very different, an ETPS graduate test pilot and another man completely in love with flight, and with aerobatics in particular. Watching him four point roll the Yak 11 was to witness absolute fluid mastery in the art of dancing in the sky with an aeroplane. His crisp but flowing roll retained pin point accuracy without losing a brushstroke of perfection. That single manouver has always occupied the same place in my memory; as with Ray, seen during practice at Booker during a Spring evening with hardly a soul about.
Well before this time, Neil had a remarkable in flight emergency whilst flying a Zlin during practice. During a maneuver the main spar had failed at a connection point; he had managed to catch the wing as it folded by rolling away from it to the inverted. He returned to the airfield inverted to roll erect seconds before landing. The wing folded as he rolled upright and the subsequent arrival was spectacular. The aircraft was a write off but he climbed out unhurt.
I never bumped into Alex Henshaw in the flesh, but I met him through his writing about a chapter in his exceptional life. ‘Sigh for a Merlin’ will be a title recognized instantly by Spitfire enthusiasts all over the World. The book tells the story of the production test flying of the Spitfire from Castle Bromwich, a place that no-one would choose to site an airfield for that purpose. Its primary asset was its proximity to the Spitfire’s production lines, its secondary, the power station cooling towers nearby. They formed a primitive beacon in the form of a bump in the cloud deck visible from the clear blue sky above. He used this reliable feature to remain oriented above the cloud deck and to aid his letdowns through the ‘clag’ to minima that would raise our hair today. And he did this sometimes twenty times a day in inclement weather to keep the supply lines rolling to the squadrons. This book is an aviation ‘must read’ if you have any interest in the triumph of will over adversity in aviation and war.
So where am I going with this? I never saw him fly, never met him and now never will. He died peacefully at his home on the 22nd Feb 2007 at the grand old age of 94 after staying up all night to look after Purdy, his sick Labrador.
We need to perform a little alchemy here to build a picture of Mr Henshaw. You must visualize a man driven by the knowledge that his work was absolutely vital to the success of a war effort. He technical expertise was demonstrably exceptional; according to contemporaries his displays took his aircraft to the limits of its capabilities and the audience to the edge of their seat, metaphorically and literally. He broke the rules with panache retaining complete mastery of his machine right to the very edge of what was possible.
Take the raw talent and skill of all of the men above, the courage and the passion that made them what they were and you come close to creating a picture of Alex Henshaw. That he could be a difficult man is known and alluded to in his obituary and many accounts of him but… as they say in the annals of history, “Come the moment, come the man.” What a moment and what a man. A flier with very few peers and a largely unsung legend.
You might want to read his obituary written in todays Daily Telegraph.
NB: I have omitted all ranks and titles for clarity. No disrespect is intended.
Dickie was a colleague for a number of years, I nearly bought his house near Cranfield in the late eighties. Whilst showing us around we happened across a car buried beneath a tarpaulin in his garage. “What’s that Dickie” I asked. “That’s a car my mother brought me when I joined the RAF,” he said. Throwing back the tarp he revealed a red MG (TD?) sports car in ‘restorers dream’ condition. “That staying with the house then Dickie?” I said. “Silly bugger” he grinned, pipe clenched between his teeth, “you wouldn’t even fit in it. I am six feet six tall. It was then around June 1986 if my memory serves me correctly. Dickie was, as is described below, a gentleman and will be missed by all who knew him. What does surprise me is that there is no mention made on the Shuttleworth website of either his considerable contribution over the years, nor his passing. I hope this is just a temporary oversight.
Here is his obituary from The Telegraph of 22nd September 2006. Wing Commander Dickie Martin, who has died aged 88, fought with distinction as a fighter pilot over France and Tobruk; later he became one of Britain’s foremost test pilots while also devoting much time to flying vintage aircraft with the Shuttleworth Trust. Within weeks of completing his training in August 1939, Martin was flying Hurricanes with No 73, one of two RAF fighter squadrons rushed to France a few days after war was declared. In what became known as the ”phoney war“, he flew patrols to intercept lone bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. On November 8 he was scrambled to intercept a high-flying bomber, but his oxygen system failed and he fainted at 21,000 ft. He recovered just in time to make a forced landing at an airfield in neutral Luxembourg, where he was interned. He was allowed out every day for exercise, and one foggy morning gradually widened his normal circuit before disappearing into the mist. When he returned on Boxing Day to his squadron, he was called the ”Prisoner of Luxembourg“. As activity increased over northern France, Martin gained his first success on April 21 1940, when he probably destroyed a Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighter. Following the German Blitzkrieg on May 10, No 73 was in constant action. Martin shared in the destruction of a Dornier bomber, and four days later attacked a formation of Stuka dive-bombers, shooting down two and probably a third. Although still only a junior pilot officer, he returned to England as an instructor, and was awarded the DFC. In early April 1941 Martin rejoined No 73 at Tobruk just as Rommel launched his attack, and was immediately in action. He shared in the destruction of a reconnaissance aircraft, and shot down a Bf 109 on May 29. The following day he and six other pilots took off to intercept a raid by 60 aircraft. He was shot down during the fierce fight but, despite being wounded, was able to bale out. After his recovery Martin was sent as a flight commander to No 250 Squadron, flying the Tomahawk. On the aircraft’s operational debut he damaged a Bf 109, and two weeks later destroyed two Italian fighters. He was awarded a Bar to his DFC in August, and was also mentioned in dispatches. Richard Frewen Martin was born on July 26 1918 at Bournemouth. He was educated at Cheltenham College and the RAF College at Cranwell, where he was awarded the prize for the best pilot in his entry. After his time on No 250 in the desert, Martin instructed fighter pilots at RAF training schools at Khartoum and Aden before returning to England in 1943. A year later he converted to flying Dakota transport aircraft and left for India, where he joined No 52 Squadron. He was soon flying mail and supplies into Kunming, China, and, once the longer range Liberators had arrived on the squadron, he flew evacuation flights to Chungking. When the southerly advance into Burma began, resupply sorties to support the Fourteenth Army took on increasing importance. At the end of the war Martin attended the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) before becoming a flight commander with the Aerodynamic Research Flight at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough. He tested the early experimental jets that led to the development of the Hunter, Swift and Sea Vixen fighter aircraft, for which he was awarded the AFC. In 1949 Martin returned to the ETPS as an instructor for two years. After a staff appointment at the Air Ministry, he left the RAF in 1953 to become a test pilot at Gloster Aircraft Company, where he was appointed chief test pilot the following year. He joined the early testing programme of the delta-wing Javelin fighter, which had experienced control difficulties. In nearly 200 spins, Martin developed a technique for recovery. Later a report appeared, strongly denied by the company, that the aircraft had serious defects at high speed. The following night Martin dived one over London, causing a sonic boom, which ”just happened to be aimed at the Houses of Parliament“. Thousands rushed into the streets where they claimed to have seen ”blue flashes“ and ”meteorites“. Martin suggested with a straight face that the noise was accidental; the result of his oxygen tube fouling the controls. For almost seven years he tested every version of the Javelin and, by his perseverance, flying skill and management of the test programme, turned it into a successful aircraft which served on many night fighter squadrons. For his work at Glosters, Martin was appointed OBE. In 1960 he joined AV Roe and tested Vulcan bombers, the Shackleton and the successful HS 748 airliner for a further seven years, being awarded a Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services in the Air. He then flew for various airlines before retiring from Monarch Airlines in 1984. During his time at Glosters, Martin masterminded a project by the apprentices to restore to flying condition one of the company’s pre-war Gladiator bi-planes. This was presented to the Shuttleworth Trust, which Martin had joined in 1948, and for many years he flew the aircraft at air shows. He was a member of the executive committee, and gave 42 years service to the trust, displaying many of the vintage aircraft in the collection. He would often land his airliner full of holidaymakers at Luton Airport, then be found, shortly afterwards, flying one of the Trust’s First World War fighters at the nearby Old Warden airfield. Martin was described by a fellow test pilot as ”the quintessential Englishman and a man of great modesty“ as well as ”a brilliant pilot “. He amassed 19,000 flying hours, and flew 240 different types of aircraft. In 2003 he was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. A practical man, he once renovated one of his houses, which necessitated jacking up the main structure in order to re-lay the foundations; a task that did not daunt him. Dickie Martin died on September 1. He married, in 1961, Anne Gibson, who survives him with their three daughters.