HMS Eagle Deck Trials 1969
- Between the dates June 2/13 1969 , two Phantom F4K aircraft of A & AEE "C" Squadron from RAE Boscombe Down conducted deck trials on board HMS Eagle, in preparation for the Clearance and Release to Service of the F4K to front line service..
- There were three test crews...
- Cdr Fred Hefford and Lt Dick Searles (Senior Observer)
- Lt Richard Burn and Lt Trevor Ling
- Lt Alan Tarver and Lt John Gavin.
The following Video clips are reproduced here by kind permission of Dick Searles, Observer. The reader must agree that it was extremly fortunate that some people were forward thinking enough to be able to record such rare archive material. This digitally converted Super8 colour film was indeed high tech in the late 1960's. These video clips with his voice over are taken from more detailed films by Dick Searles and are his sole copyright.
Test crew are seen manning aircraft on the deck of HMS Eagle. Lt. Tarver and Observer (not identified). The aircraft is prepared for launch.
The test aircraft prepares for the first reheat take off from a British Aircraft Carrier. Points of interest are that an external palouste air starter is standing by. (The F4K had internal air starters). The 40" nose extension is seen, operated by the deck crewman seen under the port wing in the wheel well. A spectacular catapult launch is captured.
The test aircraft climbs away while the flight deck crew cool the very hot jet blast deflectors in preparation for the land on. HMS Ark Royal was later fitted with internal water cooling jet blast deflectors. HMS Eagle had no requirement as she was operating non reheating aircraft. Dick Searles is seen here manning his aircraft.
The test aircraft lands on after a "bolter". No apparant reason for the bolter as the aircraft landed in the region of Number 1 wire. There are 4 wires in the landing area.
Air to Air shots taken from the COD Gannet. A truly marvelous close up view of the F4K lowering gear and hook on final approch. HMS Eagle is glimpsed in the background.
The successful conclusion.
We remember here Lt. John Gavin RN, who was lost serving with 892 Squadron and whose name rests within our Roll of Honour.