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Author Topic: First jet airspeed record over 600mph - Herne Bay to Reculver - 1945  (Read 10563 times)

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Offline Mickleburgh

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Re: First jet airspeed record over 600mph - Herne Bay to Reculver - 1945
« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2014, 09:05:39 »
At age three-and-a-half I cannot really believe that I witnessed that record attempt but do remember over the ensuing years there being quite a few apparent test flights by jets over the Herne Bay Pier - Reculver stretch and at least one `sonic boom` that shook the town. Meteors were also often seen practice firing at towed drones over the estuary. There was also at some point, probably early `50s, an race of private aircraft that used the pier as the winning post, drawing huge crowds.

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: First jet airspeed record over 600mph - Herne Bay to Reculver - 1945
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2014, 22:52:52 »
There were two Gloster Meteors attempting to gain the World Absolute Air Speed Record on 7 November 1945.
EE454, flown by Group Captain Hugh Wilson RAF, and EE455, flown by Eric Greenwood, chief test pilot of the Gloster Aircraft Company.
Group Captain Wilson flew the three-kilometre course between Herne Bay and Reculver at a new air speed record of 606.25 mph, while Greenwood returned a speed of 603 mph.

The following account by Eric Greenwood is taken from the Argus (Aus) 9 November 1945.

How Speed of 603 MPH was Attained.
Greenwood Tells Amazing Story of Flight.
In this article Mr Eric Greenwood, chief test pilot of the Gloster Aircraft Co, who attained a speed of 603 mph in a Meteor jet plane at Herne Bay (Kent) on Wednesday, tells the story of his runs over the course.


As I shot across the course of three kilometres (one mile seven furlongs), my principal worry was to keep my eye on the pier, for it was the best guiding beacon there was. On my first run I hit a bump, got a wing down, and my nose slewed off a bit, but I got back on the course. Below the sea appeared to be rushing past like a out-of-focus picture.
I could not see the Isle of Sheppey toward which I was heading, because visibility was not all that I wanted.
At 600mph it is a matter of seconds before you are there. It came up just where I expected it. In the cockpit I was wearing a tropical helmet, grey flannel bags, a white silk shirt, and ordinary shoes. The ride was quite comfortable, and not as bumpy as some practice runs. I did not have much time to pay much attention to the gauges and meters, but I could see that my airspeed indicator was bobbing round the 600mph mark.
On the first run I only glanced at the altimeter on the turns, so that I should not go too high. My right hand was kept pretty busy on the stick (control column), and my left hand was throbbing on the two throttle levers.

Hurtled into sky

I had to get in and out of the cockpit four times before the engines finally started. A technical hitch delayed me for about an hour, and all the time I was getting colder and colder. At last I got away round about 11.30am. The Meteor first hurtled into the sky.
On the first run I had a fleeting glance at the blurred coast, and saw quite a crowd of onlookers on the cliffs. I remember that my wife was watching me, and I found that there was time to wonder what she was thinking. I knew that she would be more worried than I was, and it struck me that the sooner I could get the thing over the sooner her fears would be put to rest.
On my first turn toward the Isle of Sheppey I was well lined up for passing over the Eastchurch airfield, where visibility was poor for this high-speed type of flying. The horizon had completely disappeared, and I turned by looking down at the ground and hoping that, on coming out of the bank, I would be pointing at two balloons on the pier 12 miles ahead. They were not visible at first. All this time my air speed indicator had not dropped below 560 mph, in spite of my back-throttling slightly.
Then the guiding light flashed from the pier, and in a moment I saw the balloons, so I knew that I was all right for that.

On the return run of my first circuit the cockpit began to get hot. It was for all the world like a tropical-summer day. Perspiration began to collect on my forehead. I did not want it to cloud my eyes, so for the fraction of a second I took my hands off the controls and wiped the sweat off with the back of my gloved hand. I had decided not to wear goggles, as the cockpit was completely sealed. I had taken the precaution, however, of leaving my oxygen turned on, because I thought that it was just that little extra care that might prevent my getting the feeling of "Don't fence me in."
Normally I don't suffer from a feeling of being cooked up in an aircraft, but the Meteor's cockpit was so completely sealed up that I was not certain how I should feel. As all had gone well, and I had got halfway though the course I checked up my fuel content gauges to be sure that I had plenty of paraffin to complete the job.
I passed over Manston airfield on the second run rather farther east than I had hoped, so my turn took me further out to sea than I had budgeted for. But I managed to line up again quite satisfactorily, and I opened up just as I was approaching Margate pier at a height of 800 feet. My speed was then 560 mph.

Shook base of spine

This second run was not so smooth, for I hit a few bumps, which shook the base of my spine. Hitting air bumps at 600 mph is like falling down stone steps - a series of nasty jars. But the biffs were not bad enough to make me back-thottle, and I passed over the line without incident, except that I felt extremely hot and clammy.
At the end of my effort I came to one of the most difficult jobs of the lot. It was to lose speed after having travelled at 600 mph. I started back-throttling immediately after I had finished my final run, but I had to circuit Manston airfield three times before I got my speed down to 200 mph.


Two British Pathe films of the record breaking flight. The first shows the speed recording equipment being set up, the second the record breaking flight.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=IDUsQ_LtoBg
http://youtube.com/watch?v=6kzX2OzlYLk
Hometown Blues Syd Arthur

Offline doug

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Re: First jet airspeed record over 600mph - Herne Bay to Reculver - 1945
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2013, 18:48:46 »
Colin haggard read rest of this section because the plaques were made but Canterbury Council could not bother to put them up. After kicking about the council yard for years they were going to be skipped. When somebody employed at the yard saved them, they were on display in Macaries for years until the business was sold.
The owner of the plaques [not the canterbury council who were not interested] has loaned the items to the RAF Manston History Museum, which make a niece display with a Gloster Meteor, and the pilots uniform, and film of the event.

Offline colin haggart

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Re: First jet airspeed record over 600mph - Herne Bay to Reculver - 1945
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2013, 21:15:37 »
I was down at Herne Bay at the weekend and decided to see what the latest is on the Pier demolition / reconstruction.

Whilst looking at info on the web I came across this information.


The first jet airspeed record and the first airspeed record over 600 mph was made between Herne Bay Pier and Reculver by H J Wilson who broke the World Air Speed Record at 606 mph in a standard Gloster Meteor Mark IV in November 1945


Can't remember seeing any memorial plaque or information on the sea front.

(Have done a search but can't find any other threads on this).

There is a plaque there now, Bonzo.

AnDy

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Offline Sentinel S4

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Bonzo, it is thought that he was really close to going through the sound barrier when the plane started to get out of control, and that he broke his neck when ejecting as the wind speed nearly took his head off. We just were not ready for the rapid advances in speed, the tech was there but the knowledge was missing. It was a different set of circumstances and parameters to deal with. A brave man though. S4.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

BONZO

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Thanks for the updates, found this on Wikipedia

Geoffrey de Havilland

He 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, 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 resulted in de Havilland's head striking the cockpit canopy with great force.

A pilot who flew another DH.108, Capt. Eric "Winkle" Brown suggests that a factor in de Havilland's death was due to his height, Brown suffering similar oscillations during a test flight, which due to his shorter stature, did not result in his head contacting the cockpit hood.

The David Lean film The Sound Barrier is based upon this event.

Two of de Havilland's cousins were the actresses Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine.


Offline doug

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the plaques are not on display in Macaries [Which has been sold and changed names] the plaques were never put on display at either end of the
course they sat in the council yard for years, when the council was having a clear up they were rescued by an employee who through more of history than the council. They were on display until the new ownersreturned them to the owner who has put them on loan to RAF Manston museum, where they are on display with the pilots uniform. film of the speed trials is also run.[ a later mark meteor is also on display]

Offline mmitch

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Geoffrey deHavilland died in the DH 108 Swallow on the same course in September 1946.
Later record attempts were made off the Sussex coast near Tangmere.
Several record breaking aircraft are displayed at the museum there.
mmitch.

BONZO

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Extract from the Herne Bay Press Saturday 10th November 1945

WORLD AIR SPEED RECORD BROKEN OVER HERNE BAY COURSE

Jet-propelled Planes Flash by at over 606 m.p.h. Flying his Gloster jet-propelled Meteor aeroplane "Britannia" over the Herne Bay course on Wednesday, Group captain H. J. Wilson set up a world record air speed of 606.25 miles per hour, all the conditions of the world record being fulfilled.

Mr Eric Greenwood who later in the day made an attack on the record in his new bright amber coloured Gloster jet-propelled Meteor (unnamed, but which might justly be titled the Golden Gleam), also surpassed the 600 m.p.h. speed, his checked average being 603 m.p.h.

The course of 3 kilometers to be covered four times starting opposite the Miramar Hotel on the East Cliffs along to the Reculver Towers. Group captain H. J. Wilson's four runs were 604, 608, 602, & 611m.p.h. respectively.

The previous record had been made in Germany in 1939 at 469 m.p.h.

In the Macari cafe on the corner of William Street and Central parade (on the sea front) you can see the bronze plaques that were erected to mark the air speed course . One was on the cliffs behind the Miramar Hotel that marked the Western end, and one by the Reculver Towers that marked the Eastern end of the course. The plaques are now on the wall amongst photographs of old Herne Bay in the Macari's cafe. They had to be removed from their original sites because of erosion of the cliffs by the North Sea


BONZO

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I was down at Herne Bay at the weekend and decided to see what the latest is on the Pier demolition / reconstruction.

Whilst looking at info on the web I came across this information.


The first jet airspeed record and the first airspeed record over 600 mph was made between Herne Bay Pier and Reculver by H J Wilson who broke the World Air Speed Record at 606 mph in a standard Gloster Meteor Mark IV in November 1945


Can't remember seeing any memorial plaque or information on the sea front.

(Have done a search but can't find any other threads on this).

 

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