This month’s release of classic interviews from the National Aerospace Library includes three test pilots who were at the top of their game from three different decades: Philip Lucas from the 1940s, Peter Bugge in the 1950s and Ted Sturmthal from the 1960s.

The Test Pilot Interviewees

Hawker’s Chief Experimental Test Pilot, Philip Lucas, gives insights into the problematic development of the Hawker Typhoon, together with test flying the Hawker Hurricane and Tempest and the pressures of developing aircraft in the heat of World War II. Based at Langley and in Brooklands, Lucas takes listeners through the problems with the Typhoon, most notably the resonance of the tailplane, its compressibility problems and tendency to pitch up due to do the airflow over local part of the body going supersonic. Such problems led potential and actual loss of life when the Typhoon lost its tailplane or fell into dangerous dives only to be able to be rescued once it reached 8,000 ft. Lucas won the George Cross for safely landing a Typhoon after a structural failure.

de Havilland test pilot Peter Bugge takes us through his pre-World War II career in the Royal Norwegian Air Force, before escaping from Scandinavia to join the RAF and taking up night-fighting duty in North Africa. After the War, Bugge re-joined Gp Capt John Cunningham at de Havilland test flying the Comet & Trident, together with the Vampires and Venoms for overseas clients.

Taking the story into the 1960s, North American test pilot Ted Sturmthal takes listeners through what it was like to take the Valkyrie bomber up to speeds of Mach 3. He also describes some of his earlier work on the Boeing B52H, Martin B57F & Convair B58 programmes.

These interviews were conducted by Rodney Giesler and were edited by the National Aerospace Library volunteer Mike Stanberry FRAeS.

Want to hear more?

Eight more classic interviews are available to listen to on the Society's SoundCloud. To find out more about test flying at Hawkers, both during and after World War II, listen to the Bill Humble interview and if you want to hear more about the XB-70 Valkyrie Mach 3 bomber listen to discussions with their principal pilot, Al White.

Tony Pilmer
17 July 2017