A very versatile aviator from his time as a fighter pilot, a tour on the RAF’s Handling Squadron, the Empire Test Pilots’ School course and a posting to Aerodynamics Flight at RAE Farnborough, Sqn Ldr R. A. Harvey was summoned to fly the Rolls-Royce Thrust Measuring Rig — better-known as the ‘Flying Bedstead’ — as its testing entered a particularly taxing phase. First published in 1985, this is his account of a programme that truly pushed the envelope

Rolls-Royce chief test pilot Capt R. T. Shepherd hovers over Hucknall in the first Thrust Measuring Rig, serial XJ314. Shepherd had made the machine’s first free flight there on 3 August 1954, after tethered trials since 19 August 1953.

An officer sent for me. He said that the Rolls-Royce Flying Bedstead was ready for testing but that the pilot who had progressed the job for many months now declined to fly it. The scientists were worried in case other pilots also refused. He asked me to do the job. I was delighted.


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