Sunday, December 14, 2008

Malcolm Muir 1929-2008

Malcom Muir(white overalls) with Victor test crew

Malcolm Christison Muir was born at Church Crookham, Hampshire, on September 9 1929, the son of a former pilot in the Royal Flying Corps. He was evacuated to Canada in March 1940 but returned to London in 1943 to be educated at St Paul ’s, where he excelled at sport. In October 1948 he was called up for National Service with the RAF and trained as a pilot, graduating with an above-average assessment; he also won the flying trophy.

On his release two years later Muir attended Imperial College , London , where he read Aeronautical Engineering. He joined the University Air Squadron and was commissioned as a flying officer, flying Spitfires and Vampire fighters. On graduation in July 1953 he started at de Havilland as a production test pilot. He also joined No 610 ( County of Chester ) Squadron of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force, and flew Meteor fighters at weekends.

Initially he tested Vampire and Venom fighters at the company’s airfield near Chester . Whilst testing a Venom in October 1954, he was flying in cloud when the aircraft had an electrical fault, causing the flight instruments to fail. He was forced to eject.

The aircraft had been fitted with an early model of the Martin Baker ejector seat, and one that had no leg restraint system. When Muir ejected at 400mph his legs and arms flailed, causing both knees to be dislocated and a bad fracture of his upper left arm. He also suffered a serious compression fracture of the spine.

After recovering from his injuries, Muir continued testing de Havilland’s fighters and he also delivered Vampires and Venoms to Egypt and Iraq . In January 1956 he transferred to the engines division at Hatfield, where he carried out many test flights on the new generation of jet engines, including the Ghost and Gyron. At the Farnborough Air Show he demonstrated the Gyron Junior engine and the Spectre rocket engine embodied in Canberra aircraft.

In May 1958 he was seconded to Rolls-Royce to test the powerful Conway engine, mounted on an Ashton jet, and the Vulcan bomber. Six months later he joined the company as a development test pilot, becoming deputy chief test pilot in 1964.

During his time with Rolls-Royce, when he operated from Hucknall near Nottingham , Muir flew many engine test-bed aircraft, in addition to the latest fighters. Muir also flew helicopters equipped with Rolls-Royce engines, and whilst experimenting with landings on uneven ground the Wessex helicopter he was piloting had an engine failure and crashed. He suffered serious injuries to his upper spine and chest.

After returning to flying, Muir tested the Lightning, the Buccaneer (equipped with the Rolls-Royce Spey engine) and the Victor bomber. But in 1967, with 84 different types of aircraft in his log book, he was forced to retire from flying due to the injuries he had suffered during his ejection and helicopter crash.

Muir spent the next 12 years in Rolls-Royce’s marketing department. He was the sales manager ( USA ) for the Derby Engine before retiring in 1987 he was chief engineer in the flight operations department of Rolls-Royce.