Desmond 'Dizzy' de Villiers

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Desmond ‘Dizzy’ de Villiers
Desmond de Villiers.jpg
Born(1922-11-07)7 November 1922
Died19 June 1976(1976-06-19) (aged 53)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Air Force
Years of serviceWorld War II
RankSquadron Leader
AwardsAFC
Other workChief Test Pilot

Desmond ‘Dizzy' de Villiers AFC (7 November 1922 – 19 June 1976)[1] was chief test pilot at de Havilland,[2] the world's first open cockpit pilot to reach supersonic speed (albeit inadvertently, the cockpit canopy flew off mid-flight),[3] the second British pilot to exceed mach 2, chief experimental test pilot on the English Electric Lightning programme (making more than 1,000 flights)[4][5] and who, during his test career, flew more than 6,000 hours in 130 different aircraft.[6]

Life[edit]

Desmond de Villiers was born on 7 November 1922[1] and educated at Bedford Modern School.[7] During World War II he was a Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force[8] (with No. 68 Squadron RAF) and awarded the AFC.[7] He principally flew Beaufighters in RAF Fighter Command and RAF Coastal Command.[9]

In 1943, de Villiers was seconded to de Havilland where he became chief test pilot,[2] the world's first open cockpit pilot to reach supersonic speed (albeit inadvertently, the cockpit canopy flew off mid-flight and landed in the garden of a house in Blundellsands near Southport),[10][3] the second British pilot to exceed mach 2, chief experimental test pilot on the English Electric Lightning programme (making more than 1,000 flights)[4][5] and who, during his test career, flew more than 6,000 hours in 130 different aircraft.[6] In 1951, de Villiers flew the Mamba Marathon at the Farnborough Airshow.[9]

De Villiers retired from test flying in 1967.[9] He died on 19 June 1976.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b England & Wales, Birth & Death Indexes
  2. ^ a b "1976 - 1160 - Flight Archive". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  3. ^ a b Damien Burke. "Thunder & Lightnings - English Electric Lightning - History". thunder-and-lightnings.co.uk. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  4. ^ a b "1967 - 0001 - Flight Archive". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b "english electric - 1955 - 0378 - Flight Archive". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Test & Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers". thetartanterror.blogspot.com. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  7. ^ a b "The Aeroplane; Directory of British Aviation". google.co.uk. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  8. ^ "air cdt - air staff - aux - 1954 - 0041 - Flight Archive". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 19 January 2015.
  9. ^ a b c "Test & Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers".
  10. ^ Supersonic Pilot Loses Cockpit Canopy, The Times, 6 March 1956, p.7
  11. ^ "Ancestry™ - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History Records".

External links[edit]