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Flight engineer Roy Mole and other Vickers/BAC flight test personnel

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Flight engineer Roy Mole and other Vickers/BAC flight test personnel

Old 13th Jun 2014, 21:19
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Flight engineer Roy Mole and other Vickers/BAC flight test personnel

Hello all,

Not too long after Jock Bryce's passing, ex-BAC Flight engineer Roy Mole also passed away on June 1st. When looking around for stories about his life and career it struck me that there isn't all that much material around about what was a pretty important task on a VC10 flight deck. Trubshaw
wrote a book wrote a book
, Jock Bryce had a series of articles in the Sunday Express which covered most of his career (only one is on my site for now: http://www.vc10.net/Memories/Bryce_firstflight.html) but there was a significantly larger group of people employed in testing aircraft at Vickers of which the flight engineers seem to have been left in the shade somewhat.

My question now is twofold:
- Would anyone be able to share any details/stories about Roy Mole? I've been in touch with his family and they would welcome any information as they don't have the full details of his career.
- Who can name other Vickers/BAC flight test personnel from the 60s? I've got some names of other test pilots but would welcome a list that includes flight engineers, flight test observers and perhaps others as well. I'll go through my information sometime over the next few days and will post that.

Last edited by Jhieminga; 13th Jun 2014 at 21:22. Reason: Typo in the title and a link that won't play ball...
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Old 14th Jun 2014, 13:43
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There was a project to collect names and information on flight test crews for a memorial at (I believe) F.A.S.T. at Farnborough. Was it ever completed?
Maybe the archive at Brooklands has some information too?
mmitch.
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Old 18th Jun 2014, 15:05
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That project was completed in 2008 and a Roll of Honour is now at Farnborough. Sadly John Maynard, one of the creators, passed away shortly afterwards and the website went offline in 2010. Damien Burke has now reconstructed this site and included it in his Thunder & Lightnings website: http://www.*************************...rial/index.php

This memorial lists all the casualties but what I'm after is a complete list of all the personnel that worked in flight testing for Vickers/BAC. I'm in touch with Brooklands but unfortunately their records are not complete.

Edit: seems like I'm not able to link to Damien's fantastic website. Google 'Thunder & Lightnings' and the first link is the one you're after. 'Test flying memorial' is in the main menu at the top of the page.

Last edited by Jhieminga; 18th Jun 2014 at 15:08. Reason: Link won't work...
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Old 2nd Jul 2014, 18:46
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VC10 Flight Test personel

I might be able to help you on this subject. I was the flight test engineer for Elliots who supplied the VC10 (and 1-11) Automatic Flight Control System, as such I was based firstly at Weybridge constructing the “Iron Bird”, (early fixed base simulator!) and then at Wisley, responsible for the development and certification program and flew several hundred hours on for the VC10.

Although Jock Bryce was CTP and did the first flight with Brian Trubshaw, (and also the first flight of the 1-11), his long standing back injury from an earlier ejection from a Valiant finally caught up with him, and Trubshaw became CTP towards the end of ’63.

The first flight crew on G-ARTA on 29th June 1962 were:
Jock Bryce-Captain
Brian Trubshaw – Co-pilot
Bill Cairns - Flight engineer (note; Bill was also a test pilot on the VC10)
Roy Holland – Chief Flight Test Observer
Chris Mullen – Observer (later became chief flight test observer VC10)
Ian Muir – Senior Flight Test Observer

This link is to an article which Jock Bryce wrote pior to the first flight.
G-ARTA's first flight

Other test pilots included Eddie McNamara, Bill Cairns, Lou Roberts, John Cochrane,
Peter Baker, and Hayley-Bell.
Other Flight Test observers were Peter Dirs, Stan Fincham Bob Bishop, Arthur Fuller, Brian Ganmmon and several more whose names I sadly cannot remember. Apart from Roy Mole as a Flight Engineer, also I remember George Wood navigator.
Specialist technical staff included Mike Bailey and others.

We had Peter Cane and Dexter Field BOAC project pilots flying with us on many occasions.

The ARB certification flying was done by (initially) David Davis, but mostly by Gordon Corps, who went on to become CTP for Airbus.
All in all, a great team and a great aeroplane.
Ps I have a feeling that Roy Mole was the flt engineer on G-ARTA when the hinge bracket on one of the (four) elevators sheared during a stall programme. We all listened to the audio tape when they got back, and very exciting it was too.

Hope this helps
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Old 2nd Jul 2014, 20:45
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Hello petitb,

That helps a lot, thank you! I must admit being a bit embarrassed that I still haven't found time to dig through my information. I would have found many of the names that you have provided though.

You're correct, Roy Mole was indeed present on the G-ARTA flight that ended with the elevator flutter incident. This is mentioned in Brian Trubshaw's autobiography, see here: Incidents and Accidents

Interesting to hear of your involvement with the AFCS system! Would you be willing to share some of your experiences for my website perhaps? (It's the site you linked to...)

Summarising:
Chief Test Pilot:
Gabe Robb 'Jock' Bryce
Brian Trubshaw

Deputy Chief Test Pilot:
Mike Lithgow (I know that he did fly VC10s on test on some occasions)
Who took over this post after the unfortunate 1-11 crash in October 1963?

Other test pilots:
Bill Cairns
Peter Baker
Eddie McNamara
John Cochrane
Lou Roberts (I've also seen his first name spelled as 'Lew', which is correct?)
Dennis Hayley-Bell (Not sure of his first name)

Flight Engineers:
Roy Mole

Navigators:
George Wood

Chief Flight Test observer:
Roy Holland
Chris Mullen

Flight Test observers:
Ian Muir
Peter Dirs
Stan Fincham
Bob Bishop
Arthur Fuller
Brian Ganmmon
Dick Wright

Additions and corrections are always welcome! I've noted the other names you mentioned petitb but I'll focus on the flight test personnel for now. Thanks again.

Last edited by Jhieminga; 10th Jul 2014 at 19:45. Reason: Added Dick Wright, see post below.
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Old 4th Jul 2014, 09:15
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Wisley Flight Test

I will try to put something together and send it to you.

You are correct it is Lew Roberts not Lou, and Peter Baker took over as project pilot when the second prototype flew.
Peter assures me he is still "warm"!.
Another Flt Test Observer who must be mentioned was Dick Wright a long serving Wisley man who became the Chief FTO on the 1-11, and sadly died in the crash. He was a personal friend of mine. I was flying in G-ASHG with Dick, Jock Bryce and Mike Lythgow the evening before the disaster the following day.

On your website and on the subject of the failure of the hinge bracket on G-ARTA; Maurice Ungless is correct in his comment about the periscope, I can assure you that Chris Mullen was not looking through any periscopes. In fact, quite unbelievably Chris had noticed some undue movement on the subject elevator position desyn display on his auto-observer panel, he had relayed this twice to Trub who said to "keep an eye on it". This was all on the intercom tape played back in the office immediately afterwards.

Now, after the loss of the 1-11 and the fact that no-one managed to bail out, Flight Test introduced a procedure, (where none had existed before!), for the evacuation in the event of an emergency. Amongst other things it was the Captains call to evacuate, and a rotating beacon was installed in the cabin. Also the firing point for the escape hatch was replicated at the Chief Observers position in the cabin.

Chris had his own ideas about all this and briefed his team that HE would decide if/when to evacuate and to blow the escape hatch. This he did on the day as the flight crew were somewhat diverted. As you would expect the cabin immediately filled with vapour, and, not that they aware of it at the time, the escape hatch tube between the floor and outer skin was blown out by the rapid decompression and so became completely useless as a means of evacuation. All this coupled with the porpoising and g forces gave rise to some lively intercom with Trub shouting "Don't go Chris, don't go, I have it under control."
It would be very interesting if someone had the tape, but it was over 50 years ago.
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Old 10th Jul 2014, 19:44
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Much appreciated petitb, thanks!

I'll add Dick Wright to the list above (easier to keep one list I guess), thanks for the pointer.

And thank you for those comments about the G-ARTA incident. Picking up that movement on the indicators means that Chris was obviously a sharp observer. It would be very interesting if that tape would still be around but I guess we cannot count on that. But without that tape, having these small snippets of information and piecing them together still paints a fairly complete picture of that troublesome day. And that's my goal here, keeping these memories alive and around for others to read and learn from.
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Old 8th Mar 2015, 01:39
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Chris Mullen

Hi, I came across this thread and realise that it has been some months since you were last communicating about the VC 10 test flights but wanted to let you know that Chris Mullen is my father and he is still alive and well. He turns 90 next month but is still mentally very sharp and has regaled me with some of the stories in your thread as well as many other incredible events from those days since I was a small child. He is living in Hampshire and I am sure that if you wanted more information or details he would be very willing to help. Let me know if this is the case and I will happily put you in touch. Kind regards, john Mullen
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Old 9th Mar 2015, 21:03
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Was David Nightingale part of this team?
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Old 10th Mar 2015, 03:53
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I believe my ex-boss, Bill Greening, was part of the VC10 test team before transferring over to 1-11 Sales. I met him at Canadair (subsequently Bombardier) Flight Test, where he retired as Director. He's also alive & well and living on the banks of the River Stour.
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Old 10th Mar 2015, 11:50
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Originally Posted by fantom
Was David Nightingale part of this team?
I don't know to be honest. Perhaps someone else may be able to confirm or deny this.

ICT_SLB, any chance we could get in touch with him about this? If you have any contact details for him, could you PM me?
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Old 7th Jul 2021, 17:33
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My Dad was an Empire Test Pilot School test pilot who was seconded to Vickers Aviation. He flew with Jock Bryce and Brian Trubshaw and has many entries with them in his logbook.



Originally Posted by Jhieminga View Post
That project was completed in 2008 and a Roll of Honour is now at Farnborough. Sadly John Maynard, one of the creators, passed away shortly afterwards and the website went offline in 2010. Damien Burke has now reconstructed this site and included it in his Thunder & Lightnings website: http://www.*************************...rial/index.php

This memorial lists all the casualties but what I'm after is a complete list of all the personnel that worked in flight testing for Vickers/BAC. I'm in touch with Brooklands but unfortunately their records are not complete.

Edit: seems like I'm not able to link to Damien's fantastic website. Google 'Thunder & Lightnings' and the first link is the one you're after. 'Test flying memorial' is in the main menu at the top of the page.
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Old 8th Jul 2021, 07:24
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Hello flying brain, I have sent you a PM.
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