Who was ‘Mach pioneer’ John Derry?

The life and career of John Derry, believed to be the first Briton to have exceeded the speed of sound in flight, is analysed by Robin Evans

Seventy-five years ago, on April 12, 1948, de Havilland test pilot John Derry set a 100km closed circuit FAI record of 605mph at Hatfield in the firm’s notorious DH.108. On September 6 of that year, he exceeded Mach 1 for the first time in the UK and in a British aircraft, and on the same date in 1952 lost his life in the DH.110 at Farnborough. These events, among others, lofted Derry into the record books, but the man behind the Mach was humble and let his flying do the talking.

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