Flight Line

Recollections and reflections — a seasoned reporter’s view of aviation history

DH108 VW120 getting airborne on the day, 12 April 1948, on which it set a new world air speed record of 605.23mph over 100km.

I make no apologies for returning to W. A. ‘Bill’ Waterton’s glorious, bitter but wellargued autobiography The Quick and the Dead (Frederick Muller, 1956), in which he gives his very personal ‘insider’s’ view, as Gloster’s chief test pilot, on the state of the British aircraft industry from the mid-1940s through to the mid-’50s. If you haven’t read it, you really should. One of his underlying arguments is that the British test pilot of the time was forced to take undue risks for too small a financial reward, and that his views were accorded little weight at board level.

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