Test Flying Memorial
"...and everywhere the
blue sky belongs to them
and is their appointed rest
and their native country"
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Think of the Risks...
...faced by generations of test pilots and other flight-test aircrew in furthering the cause of aviation: some 400 of them died on test-flying duties in Britain alone. The safety and reliability we expect of modern day aviation was won only through the ultimate sacrifices of these brave men - and women.
About the Database
A project to create a test flying memorial was begun by the late John Maynard and Michael Oakey at Aeroplane Monthly magazine back in 2006. This was to be in the form of a hand-inscribed Roll of Honour to be put on display at the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) Museum at Farnborough. Author and historian John Maynard put together the data to be used in the Roll of Honour and it was published online at www.testflyingmemorial.com as each section was completed. The intention was that the public could notify the project's creators of any errors and thus make the final Roll of Honour as accurate as possible.
Unfortunately with the completion of the physical Roll of Honour and its unveiling in 2008, the website was left to die a slow death, with the last update made in summer 2008. Sadly John Maynard then passed away, and the domain name was not renewed in 2010, causing the site to go offline. A valuable resource was therefore apparently lost. While the physical Roll of Honour is a fantastic memorial, it is only available for inspection at FAST and the loss of the online database has been keenly felt. Therefore, this database has been created, based on the information on the last archived copy of the old website, with obvious errors and typos dealt with and various other changes for consistency and readability. There is, therefore, a very good chance that there are errors or omissions in comparison with the final physical Roll of Honour at FAST. Corrections or further details on any particular loss are therefore most welcome - please use the contact form to submit any feedback, or make a comment on any individual entry.
The data is fully searchable and individual incidents can be displayed on a single page and therefore linked to; if anybody wishes to have a snapshot of the database, please get in contact and I'll be only too glad to provide a copy as a SQL dump or a CSV file. No claim of copyright is made in respect of this data which I feel should belong to us all.
- Members of flight-test crews on flights in experimental or prototype aircraft, and in other aircraft undertaking trials of new powerplants, propellers, control systems, armaments, communication systems and radars, as well as in the proving of ground-based systems such as ground-controlled approach and other landing aids, catapults and deck-landing equipment.
- "Members of flight-test crews" are defined as pilots, navigators and operators of navigational equipment, radio and radar operators, flight test observers, armament specialists and crafts-men undertaking specific tasks on structures, systems, or equipment. They will include members of the armed services, of British-owned airlines and aircraft manufacturing or equipment companies, of the scientific civil service, or of regulatory authorities and other recognised aviation agencies.
- Test flying is taken to mean participating in official test programmes with the objective of proving experimental or prototype aircraft, engines, propellers and any ancillary equipment. It will also include trials of production aircraft before customer acceptance, to fulfil either standard airworthiness requirements or specific test objectives and investigations within a defined programme.
- In the context of this proposition a flight-test accident is one occurring in an aircraft of British manufacture, or one of other national origin under test while the subject of actual or possible acquisition by the British armed services, or by British airlines. The same qualification will apply to the testing of engines, propellers or ancillary equipment of non-British origin. Official programmes covering the testing and evaluation of enemy aircraft are also within the terms of this proposal. Accidents occurring during display flying will not be included unless an experimental or prototype aircraft flying within its test programme is involved.
Original database compiled by John Maynard primarily from the works of the late Derek Collier Webb and the late Harald Penrose with the assistance of Tim Mason (inter-war period), Terry Hefferman (A&AEE Boscombe Down). Corrections and additional details from Paul McMillan, members of the RAF Commands forum, Al Clark, Colin Bruggy and myself.
I hope that the database stands both as memorial to all those contained within it, but also to John Maynard for seeing through such a worthwhile project to its completion.