|by Paul Holden, PRO|
18 September 2001
AIRCREW ASSOCIATION BRIEFED BY TOP TEST PILOT
After this he applied for pilot training in the RAF, subsequently flying the Meteor Mk 8 in 222 (Natal) Squadron. A posting to the Central Fighter Establishment followed for 2 years, where he worked on the flight trials of the Venom Mks 1 & 4, Hunter, Swift and the Sabre Mk 4, 5 and 6.
In July of 1954 he transferred to Hawkers, where the first Hunters were commencing their flight test programme. The early aircraft were very basic, with appallingly inadequate cabin de-misting, but the Mk 4 was very successful, and he took it on overseas sales tours in 1957.
Further testing at Hawkers included a variety of 2-seat Hunters, the Sea Hunter ("a lovely aeroplane"), the P1127 and the Hawk, the advanced trainer for the RAF. One of his slides showed the 1st prototype Hawk being inspected whilst he was waiting to take it up on its first 40-minute test flight, only 10 days before the Farnborough Air Show where it made its debut! This was an extremely successful and widely used trainer - and one of the few aircraft where industry built its own demonstrator, which he flew on sales tours.
After 8 years as Hawker's Chief Test Pilot, Duncan Simpson retired from active
test flying in 1978, but subsequently served as Deputy Director of the Society
of British Aircraft Companies - a fitting finale for a most distinguished