Geoffrey de Havilland Jr.

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Geoffrey Raoul de Havilland Jr., OBE (18 February 1910 – 27 September 1946) was a British test pilot and the son of the English aviation pioneer and aircraft designer of the same name, Geoffrey de Havilland.

de Havilland was born in Kingsclere, Hampshire in 1910.[1]

Geoffrey de Havilland Jr. became de Havilland's Chief Test Pilot and made the maiden flights of both the de Havilland Mosquito and the de Havilland Vampire.

de Havilland was awarded the OBE in the King's birthday honours in 1945.[2]

de Havilland died on the evening of 27 September 1946 whilst carrying out high speed tests in the de Havilland DH 108 TG306 which broke up over the Thames estuary, the remains of the aircraft being discovered the following day in the mud of Egypt Bay, Gravesend, Kent. Found on the mud flats at Whitstable, his parachute pull ring untouched,[3] the body of Captain de Havilland was found to have suffered a broken neck, the result of the aircraft having undergone severe and violent longitudinal oscillations prior to break-up, which caused de Havilland's head to strike the cockpit canopy with great force. Another pilot who flew the DH 108, Capt. Eric "Winkle" Brown, suggested that a factor in de Havilland's death was his height; Brown suffered similar oscillations during a test flight but, because of his shorter stature, they did not cause his head to contact the cockpit hood. The David Lean film The Sound Barrier is based upon this event.

Geoffrey's brother John de Havilland, also a test pilot, had been killed in an accident while flying a Mosquito in 1943. Geoffrey was succeeded as Chief Test Pilot by John Cunningham.

de Havilland was a cousin of the actresses Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine.


  1. ^ General Register Office of England and Wales – Birth Register for April Quarter of 1910, Kingsclere Registration District, reference 2c 263, listed as Geoffrey R. DE HAVILLAND
  2. ^ London Gazette 8 June 1945
  3. ^ Wings on my Sleeve p. 148
  • Birtles, Philip. "Beyond the Barrier." Aeroplane Monthly August 1973.

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