Peter Holding’s story

observers-first-flightPeter Holding ‘Obs 2’ (Pictured furthest) recalls that day….The crew, 6 of us, had spent a few weeks carrying out engine running and systems testing to check correct functioning and to make any adjustments required.

The next phase was move the aeroplane under its own power, and to gradually increase speed during a series accelerate-stops up to flying speed to check the steering, brakes, engine reverse thrust and tail parachute which was installed on the two prototypes only. We did have one recurring problem which was the failure of the captains airspeed indication during acceleration, which was not a problem to be ignored. We fixed the problem, but weren’t absolutely sure until we flew.

As Brian Trubshaw said to Sir George Edwards “if it works this time I’m not going to stop and come back and tell you it’s working” all this with a twinkle in his eye.

So to the flight….It must be remembered 001 had already flown, and Brian had flown 001 with Andre Turcat in Toulouse. So we had at least one on board who knew what they were doing, Ha Ha (only joking). The biggest shock to me was after the preflight briefing when we came out of the flight operations building (they were hanging from the rafters, to quote a phrase) the crowds inside and outside the airfield were enormous.

We got onboard, carried out the preflight checks, started up and off we went. We had to wait for the police to close the A38 road which was just behind the aeroplane at about 70yards! The take-off was notable for one thing, the performance. We were at light weight with full power, so the acceleration combined with the climb angle was quite impressive. Not quite “fighteresque” but close.

The flight was pretty uneventful, except a light aircraft came to have look, and we wondered if it was hired by a member of the press to get the scoop of the day. The flight was solely a positioning to Fairford our future flight test base, so there wasn’t much testing done during the flight. One thing of interest was that both Radio Altimeters (they give very accurate height information above the ground at low altitude) which caused a slight problem as the flight engineer couldn’t call the heights just before touch down, not easy when the pilots eyes are 10meters or more above terra firma at touchdown. Anyway the landing could be marked B+

We flew back to Bristol in the company DH Heron (a little less exotic but very welcome). Back at Filton there was fantastic cake representing a Concorde baked Sheila Scott the aviatrix from the 40s and 50s and a few bevvies and again large crowds.

All together a VERY PLEASANT DAY, but then the hard work had to start.

‹– read John Allan’s story
‹– read Mike Addley’s story

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