CHARLES THOMAS DENNEHY ‘SOX’ HOSEGOOD
Charles Thomas Dennehy Hosegood, affectionately known as ‘Sox’, was born on 4 January 1921 at Castres, St Lucia, the elder son of Captain T W H Hosegood. He will be remembered, particularly, as an outstanding helicopter test pilot.
Sox was educated in the ‘British School’ in Hong Kong and in Prior Park College, Bath, from which He joined the Royal Navy on 6 November 1939. He joined the Number 9 Pilots Course and gained his Fleet Air Arm Wings in July 1940. In December that year He was appointed to ‘A’ Flight, 702 Squadron, and joined HMS Alacantra, the first armed merchant ship fitted with an aircraft catapult, flying Fairey Seafoxes on convoy protection duties.
In January 1942, following his 21st Birthday, he was given command of the two-aircraft Unit and held that position until the Flight was disbanded in Free Town a year later.
On the homeward passage in March 1943, his ship was torpedoed one night and Sox was rescued from the sea, along with only five others, by HMS Spey, an accompanying frigate.
Following a period of Observer training in 751 Walrus Squadron flying from the River Tay at Dundee, he was one of the six original Naval Pilots sent to America to convert to helicopters on the Sikorsky R4.
After returning to the UK, he was attached to the General Aircraft Company, which had the contract to assemble helicopters imported from the USA. In March 1945, Sox became the Navy test pilot at the Joint Service Helicopter Test Unit of the Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment (AFEE) at Beaulieu. In July of that year He was appointed to HMS Saker, New York, for helicopter duties for the British Army in the USA. In November 1945 He returned to the UK, rejoining the AFEE where he remained until He left the Navy in November 1946 with a flying assessment of ‘Exceptional’.
After a two-year term with the Trinidad Petroleum Development Company at Palo Seco in Trinidad, he accepted an invitation to join the Bristol Aeroplane Company at Filton as a test pilot. He was appointed Chief Test Pilot of the Helicopter Division under Raoul Hafner in 1951.
Sox was responsible for flying the later marks of the Bristol Sycamore and particularly the test flying to obtain its Certificate of Airworthiness – the first for a British helicopter. He carried out the test flying from an aircraft carrier to clear the Sycamore for operation with the Royal Australian Navy and in 1953 flew a Sycamore to The Netherlands to assist with flood evacuation work after the great North Sea Surge of that year.
He made the maiden flights of all of the Bristol Tandem-Rotor Types 173 Mk1, and 173 Mk2 with wings and carried out sea trials of the Mk1 on HMS Eagle. Sox made the initial flights of the much larger Type192 Belvedere, seeing it into service with the Royal Air Force. He set up several records with the Belvedere including time between London-Paris-London city centres.
When Westland acquired Bristol Helicopter and closed the site in 1963, the majority of the innovative and successful Bristol Team, found employment at other UK or overseas companies. Sox joined the South-western Electricity Board to set up their Helicopter Unit for power-line inspection duties. He managed this until his retirement 20 years later. By that time the Helicopter Unit had grown in size and stature with four helicopters and a support team that also carried out all of the overhead power-line patrols for the four neighbouring Electricity Boards.
Sox was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He served on the Test Pilots Committee of The Society of British Aircraft Constructors and on their Flying Control Committee for which he demonstrated various helicopters for 12 consecutive years.
He was a founder member of the British Helicopter Association and a member of the British Helicopter Advisory Board. Sox was awarded the Master Pilot Certificate of the Guild of Pilots and Air Navigators in 1960 and the Alan Marsh Medal by the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1962.
His sporting activities showed more enthusiasm than ability but he set running records in Hong Kong. Of his two most-loved sports, he played Cricket until about 40 and then Golf until the end.
Captain of his school XI, He played regularly for combined Schools of Hong Kong, and was a member of the ‘XL Club’.
He had been captain of the Weston-super-Mare Golf Club, Captain of the Somerset Golf Captains Society and of The Aero Golfing Society.
He died, aged 93, on 17 February 2014. In 1950 he married Jane, née Jacob. He is survived by Jane, their two sons, Nigel and Ian and three Grandchildren
Prof Reg Austin CEng FRAeS