View Full Version : Sqn Ldr Neville Duke DSO, OBE, DFC**, AFC

Flying Lawyer
10th Apr 2007, 12:27
Sqn Ldr Neville Duke DSO, OBE, DFC**, AFC died on Saturday, aged 85.

He was taken ill while flying with his wife, landed safely at Popham, and collapsed as he got out of the aircraft. He passed away in hospital during the evening.

The Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators awarded Sqn Ldr Duke the 'Guild Award of Honour' in 2002.
His hand must have been aching by the end of the evening, given the great many of us who wanted the honour of shaking it.


Neville Duke joined the Royal Air Force in 1940 at the age of 18 as an AC2 pilot-under-training. After learning to fly at No. 13 Elementary Flying Training School, White Waltham, he received his wings in February 1941. Newly commissioned, he converted to the Spitfire at No.58 OTU, Grangemouth, and joined No. 92 Fighter Squadron at Biggin Hill in 1941, his first "Kill" being a Messerschmitt Bfl09 over Dunkirk. He was then sent to the Middle East for what was to be a six weeks' detachment, but which, in the end, lasted to near the end of the War.

Flying Spitfires, Tomahawks and Kittyhawks on Nos. 112 and 92 Squadrons in the Western Desert and commanding No. 145 Squadron in Italy, he became the top scoring Allied pilot in the Theatre credited with the destruction of 28 enemy aircraft confirmed, 3 probably destroyed, plus 5 damaged. In these three years, he was awarded the DSO and the DFC with two bars. At the end of the War, he was 23 years old.

In 1945, he was posted to Hawkers as an RAF test pilot, graduated from No 4 ETPS course in 1946 and then joined the RAF High Speed Flight, which gained the world speed record in 1946 in a Meteor 4. He completed two years as a Squadron Leader at A&AEE Boscombe Down, being awarded an AFC in 1948, before being invited to become a civilian test pilot with Hawker Aircraft, then at Langley.

There, he test flew production Furies and Tempests and also the first Hawker jet aircraft, the prototype P1040. During this period he established world records on Fury delivery flights to the Pakistan and Egyptian Air Forces - from London to Rome (1949), London to Karachi (1949), and London to Cairo (1950).

He was the owner of a Hawker Tomtit, now in the Shuttleworth Collection, which he flew regularly at air displays. He also joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, becoming Commanding Officer of No 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron at Biggin Hill, equipped with Spitfire Mk 22s and later Meteor 4s and having Winston Churchill as its Honorary Air Commodore.

He held the post of Chief Test Pilot at Hawkers from 1951 to 1956. His name will always be linked with the test flying of Sydney Camm's P1067, which became the Hunter. He flew its first flight on 20 July 1951 from Boscombe Down in WB 188 (becoming, almost certainly, the first pilot to wear a Bonedome in a British aircraft) and led the test flying programme of the RAF's first aircraft capable of exceeding the speed of sound.

In it, he planted the first sonic boom for all to hear across Southern England in a shallow dive from 30,000ft on 24 June 1952. The following year, again in WB 188, this time modified with addition of reheat, he set a low altitude world speed record of 727.6mph, averaged over three runs, flying a course off the South Coast near Tangmere on 7 September 1953.

Neville Duke was awarded the OBE in 1953 and the next year was the recipient of the Gold Medal of the Royal Aero Club and the Segrave Trophy. Additionally, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Danish Aero Club in 1953, two De La Vaux FAI Medals in 1954,and a Queen's Commendation in 1955. In 2002, he was recipient of the Air League's Geoffrey Quill Medal.

His books including Sound Barrier, Test Pilot and The Crowded Sky, have brought home to his readers the realities of test flying at a time when flight approaching the speed of sound was an unknown quantity and literally a Sound Barrier.

For his unique and incomparable record as a RAF fighter pilot and for his outstanding contribution to British aviation in the investigation of high-speed flight and development of the Hunter, Neville Duke is awarded the Guild's Award of Honour.

The Guild Award of Honour is awarded on rare occasions to individuals who have made an outstanding lifetime contribution to aviation.


Footless Halls
10th Apr 2007, 12:42

Sad news - another hero passes away. But from what you say it sounds like about a good a way to go as they get?

10th Apr 2007, 13:23
Another of my boyhood aviation heroes has passed on. I well remember his superlative Hunter displays at Farnborough in the early 1950's. Met him on a few occasions over the years and his quiet unassuming manner made a great impression.
Trapper 69

PPRuNe Pop
10th Apr 2007, 14:14
It is always very sad to hear of another of the great aviators, of these last many decades, leaving us for the heaven they graced for so long. One last flight and then to sleep is the way I feel he would have liked.


Albert Driver
10th Apr 2007, 14:43
Thanks for leading me into this great adventure, Neville.

10th Apr 2007, 17:01
Another boyhood hero gone to the great upstairs.... A true inspiration to a generation of youngsters in the 1950s.

On the 25th anniversary of the Hawker Hunter, I flew as part of a 4-ship formation of Hunter F6As from Brawdy to meet OC Ops and Neville Duke coming in from Dunsfold in a T7. We then flew as a 5 ship vic over the aerodrome for the press, before coming back for the break. Then a session with the press and a few words from the great Neville Duke. A memorable day indeed!

Sadly the press didn't use it - the spotterish ones just took pictures of 'Winston' and one of our 'Strikemouse' JPs and the serious ones dropped the story because the Americans had just landed something on Mars.

But it was great to have met one of one's boyhood heroes!

10th Apr 2007, 18:27
Landing at the Dunsfold display last year. No-one noticed, except the commentator. When he announced his arrival I recall the representative of one of the Aviation Press saying "Neville Who?"
Edit: This is the great man's own aeroplane, with him at the controls.
RIP and thank you Sir!

10th Apr 2007, 18:48
Met Sir Neville at the hunter line up at Exeter a few years ago.......a gentleman from a bygone age


r dawes
10th Apr 2007, 18:51
I was at popham on the day when Mr Duke was taken ill .
A local doctor was flying at popham and landed to attend him until the ambulance arrived. I believe Mr Duke walked to the ambulance.
There will be one really good airshow in heaven with the passing of all these great pilots.
R Dawes.

Albert Driver
10th Apr 2007, 20:32
.....with a red Hunter as gate guardian.


11th Apr 2007, 11:06
a gentleman from a bygone age
Agreed, I had the pleasure of working with him on the Optica back in the '80's.

11th Apr 2007, 15:53
"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. "

(from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/12/08/nduke08.xml)

And a reference to him embedded in the article about John
Derry's demise at Farnborough:-

"There was a short break in the display, then Neville Duke did a supersonic
dive in a prototype Hawker Hunter. There was a deadly silence from the
crowd, who were very nervous about this being repeated." (from
http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/witness/september/6/newsid_4219000/4219540.stm )

11th Apr 2007, 17:40
Header says it all.

Duke was famous for, among other things, holding the world air speed record.
In 1953 he achieved 727.63 mph flying a Hawker Hunter.

I met Sqn Ldr Neville Duke at RIAT last year, what a fine man !

I am sure many on here and in the aviation fraternity would like to pass on sincere Condolences.

I for one will drink a toast this evening to a TRUE Flying legend !

11th Apr 2007, 18:37
I still have (or rather my son does) my autographed copy of "Neville Duke's Book of Flying" from around 1957. Excellent description of his first Spitfire "op", and naturally of the speed record flight.
A gentleman--and one who was more interested in his profession than in the "managing upwards" tendency so apparently prevalent more recently.

11th Apr 2007, 18:57
I first met Neville Duke when he presented me with a flying badge after I requalified for my PPL. After that I occasionally bumped into him in the Bournemouth Flying Club on his return from some trip or other. Although they hardly knew us they would quite happily have a drink with us as if we were valued friends.

The last time, he and Gwen had just flown back from a garden party given by Rolls Royce for surviving test pilots and they were telling us how few of his contemporaries were still alive. In fact, he was the only one still flying. To be honest, it was Gwen who told us all this because Neville was so self effacing that he just sat there looking slightly embarrassed at being the centre of attention. An absolute gentleman and an inspiration. I feel truly priviledged to have met him.

11th Apr 2007, 21:45
As someone who grew up with Neville and Gwen as our 'next door' neighbours on the perimeter track at Dunsfold, my father being the Chief Production Pilot, I am immensely sad to hear the news of his death. I have fond memories of Dunsfold, Farnborough air shows and many pilots who sadly have gone over the years before him, he will stand out for many of us as one of our heroes and whilst I grieve for Gwen, I cannot but applaud that in the finest tradition of test pilots, he managed to get the plane down in one piece one last time and I donít take anything away from others in the plane at the time. None of us could find a more fitting finish to such a long and distinguished life. It is a pity that the national press seem to have missed a worthy story over the long running tripe of the last couple of days. Let us hope that the aviation press donít let us down. Michael .

Flying Lawyer
11th Apr 2007, 23:40
Manxcats4me It is a pity that the national press seem to have missed a worthy story over the long running tripe of the last couple of days.

I couldn't agree more.

I eventually called The Times newsdesk today expressing surprise that there hadn't been a mention. I was told 'it's not really a news story', 'people would be more interested if it was someone famous now' (a so-called 'celebrity' no doubt :rolleyes: ) and was advised to contact the Obituaries section. I did, so hope something will come of it.

I happen to know the person who writes aviation obituaries for the Daily Telegraph. He hadn't heard the sad news, but is now writing so I think we'll see an obituary later in the week. (Subject to the Obituaries Editor's discretion obviously, but the DT is usually good re aviation obits.)


Will Hung
12th Apr 2007, 07:51
Nice point Manxcats4me. Had Mr Duke been taken prisoner, do you think he would have said on TV everything his captors wanted him to, and then sold his story for a fast buck and 15 minutes of celebrity ? Absolutely not ! Different generation. RIP, and say hello to Mr Trubshaw up there for me.

12th Apr 2007, 09:51
Farewell to a man who inspired me 'from afar' as a 'youngster'.

I too have a copy of "Neville Duke's Book Of Flying".
It was a birthday present to a very enthusiastic young kid who just wanted to fly...
First published in 1954, Copyright by Neville Duke and Edward Lanchbery.
Cost my folks 12/- then, in Sydney (AUS), and I thought it was just 'GREAT!'

I now have that book in front of me, and it is still 'GREAT!'

In those days of my young life, I was enthralled and excited by his description of
"Dawn Readiness" (By an ex-Fighter Pilot) (sic)....
And the last para;
"But as you throttle back and fly slowly round
the circuit, you listen to the exciting sound of
the wind whistling in the gun ports through
the torn canvas covers. You have fired your
guns for the first time in battle. You are
nineteen. You have shot down your first enemy
aircraft. Life is great."

His Hawker Hunter speed efforts were also inspiring, but his real 'story' for me was his Chapter One - "Learn To Fly A Jet" - a story of student and instructor in a 'Vampire', complete with photos and drawings etc.
And, at that time, I dreamt that student was me!

RIP, and condolences to Family, Colleagues and Friends.:ok:

Flying Lawyer
12th Apr 2007, 14:38
The Daily Telegraph will definitely publish an obituary.
There is a "strong probability" that it will appear tomorrow.

The Times Obituaries section is "considering" my suggestion.
I've no idea what there is to consider. :rolleyes:
Update -
Just received an email which includes "We shall certainly be running an obituary in due course."


12th Apr 2007, 16:40
Neville Duke was my childhood hero. His record breaking exploits in the Hunter made me long to fly one one day. Eventually I did.
A couple of years ago I had the great privilege of sitting next to him at lunch. We had a (for me) fascinating discussion about the genesis of the Hunter. Afterwards, his wife came up and asked who I was. "Another satisfied customer", he said. Too bloody right!
A great man and a Gentleman.

12th Apr 2007, 18:05
I never got a chance to meet him, but a friend of mine did a couple of months ago at bournemouth and got his log book signed, typical the one day I wasnt at the airfield!!!
One thing I think is good though is that he was devoted to flying and his wife Gwen and I understand he went flying at the weekend with his wife before being taken ill and passing away, at least he didnt have his passions taken away from him by a long illness. And thank god the wx was kind to him for his last flight.

Lou Scannon
12th Apr 2007, 19:31
Heard last night that Sqn Ldr Neville Duke DSO DFC** AFC OBE had died at the age of 85 having just landed with his wife at Popham.

He was one of the greats of aviation and a lovely man. To my generation he was the ideal boyhood hero and his runs across Farnborough in the red Hunter WB188 in the 1950's were never to be forgotten. As well as collecting gongs throughout the war he was also a Test Pilot at Hawkers and responsible for the Hunter holding the world's air speed record at 727mph.

One wit remarked that Neville had so many bars it looked as if he had riveted his medals to his chest. Perhaps a comment on the TV last night from someone who used to organise aviation events sums him up best. He described how he would invite Neville to an event and search frantically for him just before it opened. Instead of taking his place on the stage, he would be found sitting in the back row of the audience.

12th Apr 2007, 20:00
FL, I suspect that the Times Newsdesk is staffed by people who have a recent MBA in Media Studies or some such neo-qualification, and for whom history extends no further back than the day they sprouted spots.

I first recall Neville Duke's name at the age of twelve in 1976, when a bright red WB188 formed the centre piece of a 25-ship 25th birthday Hunter line up at Greenham Common. Or at least, that's how I remember it.

Several years later I borrowed Test Pilot from the library; I have acquired my own copy today and shall settle down to enjoy it again in a little while.

A proper British Gentleman... here's to you sir.

12th Apr 2007, 20:14
Sad news to hear the great man has passed away, was in the air at the time approaching Popham, when the incident happened, he did a good job to get the plane down safely. Praise must go to the staff at Popham who handled the situation very well and contained the situation within the best of there abilities.

12th Apr 2007, 22:15
I was privileged to have dinner with him and his wife once at my parents-in-law's house. Such an unassuming and charming man.

It is sad to say that they don't make them like that anymore. I wonder why not?

13th Apr 2007, 07:29
I understand he went flying at the weekend
Info in the first post.
Sad that such a great aviator has passed away, but what a fitting way to go.

There's an obituary in today's Telegraph.

Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/13/db1302.xml)

13th Apr 2007, 07:31
Woeful coverage on today's BBC Breakfast news. The presenters merely showed the Telegraph's picture, then giggled because Neville's age was given as 84 in one place and 85 in another.

But plenty of coverage of an 'obesity gene' and something about a popular beat combinations' music rights.....:rolleyes:

One immediately sent a stiff e-mail to the BBC.

Well done for waking the Daily Telegraph up to publishing the obituary, Tudor. Why on earth The Times needed to 'consider it', is difficult to understand. Perhaps they were embarrassed at having missed the news?

13th Apr 2007, 08:27
Woeful coverage on today's BBC Breakfast news.....One immediately sent a stiff e-mail to the BBC.

If they felt it was significant enough to mention, then it was significant enough to get right...

I too loosed off an email...

Albert Driver
13th Apr 2007, 08:38
QDM says: It is sad to say that they don't make them like that anymore.

Neville was not made "like that". He chose to be "like that".

And we can be "like that" (meaning modest, polite, putting others first, helping others to achieve their aviation dreams, keeping British aviation alive - all things that have slipped out of sight in recent years) if we choose.

Lou Scannon
13th Apr 2007, 09:45
Posted at John Beattie's request as he is away at present:

In 1988 I was at the Brize Norton display in Sea Fury TF956 during my first season on type. Prior to my 'on' time I pressed the starter button and got the cartridge to fire, but it didn't turn the engine and sounded 'soft'. The piston on the percussion starter had obviously stuck down the bore, usually due to a build up of carbon. The fix was to beat the starter body with something heavy to encourage it back up the barrel. Second cartridge did the same thing, so beating hadn't worked. I then phoned for help, which was hours away at Biggin Hill and agreed to speed the process by removing the starter ready to accept a fresh one. Having got it off I then got help taking the top off and sure enough it was carboned up good and proper. Scraping it out and softening up the deposits with copious quantities of WD40 soon had the piston riding freely, but me getting blacker and sweatier in the process. My 'sup' eventiually arrived to sign it all off and as he was doing the bookwork I put it back on the aeroplane and jumped in to call for a new slot, now a good time after the original had expired. The news was bad, I could only go after the display was over, in about 45 minutes, but still in time to display at Halton.
Good time to clean up, relax and pass the time of day with a chap sitting in an Edgely Optica thirty feet away who had been watching quietly throughout the whole charade but now wandered over. I did vaguely recognise him, but was quite taken aback when he said he had done a good deal of test flying on the Sea Fury and the penny finally dropped. What a lovely unassuming man, whom I subsequently met on many more occasions after that as a member of the Fleet Air Arm Officers Association. He was always delightful and despite deafness continued to fly, taking Gwen with him, through sheer enjoyment. He has to be one of Aviations greatest personalities, through his many achievements and the thoroughly nice man he was.


Fg Off Max Stout
13th Apr 2007, 09:45
Terribly sad news but some consolation that he had a good innings, acheived so much and died doing what he loved, having safely returned Gwen to ground.

Neville Duke was a boyhood (and for evermore) hero of mine in an age where my friends' heroes were transient footballers or pop stars who added nothing of real value to the good of our nation. Reading my copy of Test Pilot as a kid was a great inspiration to pursue a career in aviation, and many passages still send a tingle down my spine when I read them.

I met both Neville and Gwen at Tangmere on a number of occassions and felt in absolute awe the man. My copy of Test Pilot now bears his autograph.

RIP. Thank you for doing so much for our country.

13th Apr 2007, 09:58
Looks like PPRuNe has sparked the media into belated action.

In addition to the excellent obituary in the Telegraph today (link already posted), and the promised Times obituary, the BBC now has this on its website. BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/6551635.stm)

Well done BEagle and Windriver for contacting the BBC.

13th Apr 2007, 10:01
RIP Neville.

True Gentleman Aviator

His dudeness
13th Apr 2007, 16:09
Never met him, but read "Testpilot" so often, that it is about to fall apart.


B Fraser
13th Apr 2007, 19:57
Test Pilot - Neville Duke ISBN1-904010-40-7

One of the finest flying books I have ever read. (I may just one day give it back to the mate who lent it to me.)

A cracking good read from a very humble but extraordinary chap.

Sleeve Wing
13th Apr 2007, 20:43
One day a couple of summers ago I was lying in the shade under the wing of my Tiger Moth awaiting another punter.
I became aware that I had company in the form of a very elegant, elderly lady and her tall husband.
"My husband would like to have look at your aeroplane", she said. "I'm afraid he won't say much as he's a a little hard of hearing these days."
I think I nearly stood at attention when I shook his hand, realising that my hero from long past and I were actually talking.
Apparently he always made a point of flying into White Waltham every summer on the anniversary of his first solo in a Tiger.
He seemed genuinely pleased when I told him that, since grammar school (1951), his flying of the Hunter had resulted in my determination that one day I would fly them. Ten years later I too achieved that dream.
I met him on a few more occasions after that and I'm afraid I never lost the feeling of awe whenever we chatted. He will always be a true Boys Own hero.
Where are the like now ?
Every other day now we seem to lose yet another of the real contributors to our society. There appear to be few modern substitutes.

14th Apr 2007, 00:04
I can distinctly remember being asked at school...aged about 10, who my favourite author was...

Well I'd just read Neville Duke's Test Pilot for the second time......and so said Neville Duke.

The teacher promptly wrote Neville Shute on the blackboard.....

When I could catch the teachers attention I pointed out that it wasn't Neville Shute (who at that time I had never heard of....as at 10...I only read serious books.....you know the type)..

Anyway...net result...a detention for arguing...canning etc....and all because I had to damn well insist that there really was a pilot called Neville Duke who wrote a book about Test Pilots...and it was a lot better than any fictional Neville Shute....

I became a Flight Test Engineer...... I got to fly a few times in fast jets...I've made a very good and interesting life in aviation...and have seen the world.

I never met Neville Duke.....

He was the most influential man in my life.....

Thank you Neville Duke. RIP

14th Apr 2007, 10:31
Manxcats4me,Please check your PMs

14th Apr 2007, 13:53
Neville was for me, like so many others, a boyhood hero, and it was a great privilege to become acquainted with him and Gwen over the years. My thoughts are very much with Gwen as she has to cope with her devastating loss.
My personal feelings of great sadness are countered with many happy memories of time spent with an incredible man; humble, self effacing, polite and definitely heroic. Interestingly, he would always want to talk with me about P40s and Bf109s rather than Hunters. One very special event was when he and Gwen came to Boscombe Down for a little celebration that we had for the 40th anniversary of our Hunter FGA9 in 1996, and I am also glad that my children had the opportunity to meet him on that occassion.
Like so many others who have posted on this thread, I too was saddened by the initial lack of press coverage following Neville's death. However, I was uplifted by yesterday's Daily Telegraph. The obituary was very well written, and my faith in British journalism was restored by the dedication of the centre of the front page to Neville, a truly great Briton whose qualities are so rarely found in modern society; it was people such as Neville who made Britain great.
Neville, I salute and thank you. You are sadly missed.

15th Apr 2007, 13:40
"...One of the thrills of flying is to take up the Hunter to over 40,000 feet, up into the clear deep, sapphire blue. Down below, you can see the earth, far away - it is best to pick clear days for vertical dives in the Hunter. Now ... at full-throttle you half roll over and pull through. The nose of the Hunter is pointing straight down at the earth; and you are hanging forward in the straps, feeling as though you may slip out of them and fall forward at any moment. Now you are really beginning to move. The indicated speed begins to build up and so does the Mach number. Soon you are going straight down at the earth at supersonic speed. You can see the earth rushing up towards you. The needle on the altimeter is whirling madly round, reeling off thousands of feet as you go down, straight as an arrow. It's a wonderful thrill. When the Hunter is going down flat out you are falling at much more than 50,000 feet a minute.
Now the ground seems to be getting a little close. You ease back on the throttle, and at something below 20,000 feet begin to start easing back on the control column. The earth still seems to be rushing madly at you. But gradually the nose of the Hunter comes up above the horizon. You take a glance down; the earth is not far away but you are now flying parallel to it, straight and level. And now into a zoom?
Back with the control column, until the Hunter is pointing directly at the sky from which you have just ripped down. Now you are lying flat on your back in the cockpit. And this time it seems as though you are going to fall over backwards. Up you go, with the altimeter whirling again. You can easily shoot straight up for over 20,000 feet in the Hunter in a zoom from ground level, flying straight into space, into the blue, with very little sense of speed this time. Then you level off by pulling the Hunter on to its back and rolling out to level flight. Who would miss the thrill of flying?..." (from "Test Pilot" Neville Duke)

I have fond memories - sight and sound of the great Neville Duke. Firstly, in my primary school playground in Sussex. The sonic bangs that reached us were always "Neville Duke in his Hunter". Then in the early seventies, I watched him fly a very low, very slow, roll in a Miles Student at Shoreham. Wonderfull!

There is going to be one hell(?!) of a display up there with Duke, Hanna, Trubshaw et al. Bedford is there too so it will be a good party and after dinner speech as well! I don't want to see it all just yet though...

By the way, I disagree that they don't make them like that any more. Just go to any good flying display. There is some amazing young talent out there. Nowadays, they just don't get the pioneering opportunities that the likes of the great Neville Duke did, thats all.

Cheers all. BS

Flying Lawyer
16th Apr 2007, 12:37
Obituary in The Times today: Link (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article1657966.ece)

Brian Abraham
17th Apr 2007, 04:51
Fly to the angels
Do not land
God has taken hold your hand
Many flights you have made
Memories will never fade
Take to the skies a final time
Far above the clouds to climb
Do not stop
The skies deep blue
Keep on climbing
You must do
Youíve landed now
In heavenís field
Your journeyís done
Youíve found such peace
On this sweet flight
Goodbye, God bless
Sleep tight

Flying Lawyer
18th Apr 2007, 12:37
Just noticed the Guardian had an obituary on Saturday.


Moving poem, Brian. http://www.pprune.org/forums/images/infopop/icons/icon14.gif


John Wheater
10th May 2007, 13:12
I guess the Telegraph was quickest of the mark, with the death when it happened, and an obituary on Friday 13th.

The funeral went off well on May 1st at Tangmere church, which holds a lot of Germans. A good churchfull of the great and good; I was pleased, as a nobody, to get in, and to have an Order of Service to add to my memorabilia, including a copy of his 1952 letter from Churchill, printed by Sothebys when they sold it for him, and his reply to my letter when I worried he was falling on hard times.

Does Mr Lovegrove post here? It was good to meet him, three years younger than ND, and still flying.

There was a spectacular flight over the church after the ceremony, a Hunter I think. Was it flown by anyone in particular?

10th May 2007, 21:42
The Hunter was G-VETA (Mk T7) from Exeter with Brain and Andy at the controls

11th May 2007, 13:02
The Hunter was actually ZZ190, a F58 owned by Hawker Hunter Aviation and flown by Dave Southwood

8th Aug 2007, 21:25
PPRuNe has been informed that the Memorial Service for Sqn Ldr Duke will be:

Date : Thursday 11 October 2007Time : 12:00Venue : RAF St Clement Danes, Strand, London WC2

We don't yet know if it will be open or tickets only.
Further details will be posted when they become available.

10th Aug 2007, 06:29
In about 1950-something, I saved all the money I could make from selling newspapers to the butcher and taking empty beer and soft drink bottles to the pub and corner store to put a layby on Neville Duke's Complete Book of Flying (or whater the title was - the cover had ND in helmet looking up from Hunter cockpit).

When I'd at last paid for it, I brought it home and had my Mum carefully cover it with plastic.

I'd hate to say how many hours I spent reading and re-reading (and re-reading!) that book. I can still remember the first chaper's title: "Nutshell Navigation", and the b&w pics of Vampires with the yellow stripes ("The 'L' Plates of the air") on their wings - (the very aeroplane I was to get my wings in some 10 or 12 years later).

I think the same book had a pic of the X3 towards the back of it, which had to be the spoofiest flying machine I had ever seen, (and to this day, still rates pretty highly as a mean looking piece of kit).

Never had the privilege of meeting the man, but that book he wrote for kids like me back then certainly had the desired effect on this then very much aspiring young aviator.

choclit runway
15th Aug 2007, 07:26
I had the honour of dealing with Neville and his wife in the late nineties whilst working at Bournemouth airport where their aircraft was based.

They were a warm, friendly, modest couple whose contribution to aviation was immeasurable.

My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

A great loss to the world but a life well led and to be celebrated.

Sweet dreams Neville.


17th Sep 2007, 08:54
We've now been told the Memorial Service is open to all.
No tickets required.

The Address will be given by ACM Sir Michael Graydon, former Hunter pilot, Chief of the Air Staff 1992-1997 and a Liveryman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators.