Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Brian A. Powell 1921-2014

Brian Powell was always keen on flying. His first flight,at the age of six, was on an Avro 504K. He started gliding at Dunstable in 1936 and was a founding member of the Surrey Gliding Club.

He was originally trained in civil engineering, but had joined the University of London Squadron in 1937 and had graduated to the Hawker Hart when war broke out in 1939. However he was under age and was unable to join the RAFVR. He re-applied on his 18th birthday but was made a flying instructor for the whole war finishing at CFS in Rhodesia and latterly at Cranwell before being demobilised in 1946.By this time he had already taken a professional pilot’s licence.

After some three years in civil aviation where he was Chief Pilot of Westminster Airways he decided to combine his engineering training with flying and joined Vickers as a test pilot on the Viscount 630, Varsity and Valettas.

He was transferred to Airspeeds where he did development work on the Ambassador including Tropical Trials.Thereafter he went to de Havilland on the Comet 1. He was posted to Harwarden where the Comet 3 was being built.He also flew Venoms, Vampires, Doves and Herons.

He decided that there appeared to be no future with de Havilland so he went back into commercial flying as Chief Training Captain for Hunting Clan where he spent seven years flying Viscounts, Avro Yorks, DC 3’s, DC 6’s, Vikings and Brittannias.

Hunting-Clan was merged to form British United Airways, where he was Chief Test Pilot and also a route captain They were the first airline to order the BAC 1-11.

Subsequently,when Mike Lithgow and Dick Rymer were killed on the BAC 1-11 Deep stall accident and,at BAC’s request he was seconded back to Wisley where - in addition to development flying on the 1-11 and VC10 he spent three years training customers’ pilots. Returning to British United (which was subsequently taken over by Caledonian) he flew 1-ll’s VC10’s and 707’s until he retired in 1977.

He joined the Guild of Air Pilots & Navigators in 1946 and worked on various committees there eventually becoming Chairman of the Technical Committee. He served on the Court of the Guild for 21 years.