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Air Display Museum

A Collection celebrating air displays,aerobatics, test flying, and all things aeronautical.

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Williams Sam
John Farley.
 
Well known test pilot, famous for his testing, and legendary displays in the Harrier.
 
 
This suit was worn by John in his final Farnborough appearance in 1982. Where he flew the first Indian Sea Harrier.
 
 
 

John writes:

I left Hastings Grammar School at seventeen to begin a five year student engineering apprenticeship at the Royal Aircraft Establishment Farnborough. During this apprenticeship, I had the opportunity to fly as a flight test observer and decided I should become a test pilot – preferably on the Aerodynamics Research Flight which seemed to be doing the most interesting work. Therefore I joined the RAF in 1955 to train as a pilot on the Piston Provost/Vampire training scheme. My first tour was on Hunters in Germany at RAF Jever and my second instructing on Jet Provosts at the RAF College Cranwell. 

During this tour I was selected for the 1963 course at the Empire Test Pilots’ School and on graduation was posted to the RAE Aerodynamics Research Flight which had by then relocated to a purpose built research airfield at Thurleigh near Bedford. While on ‘Aero Flight’ I was fortunate to fly all the research aircraft then flying in the UK. These included the first Hawker Siddeley P1127  XP831 and multiple lift engine Short SC1.

As a result of this jet VSTOL experience, I joined Hawker Siddeley at Dunsfold as a company test pilot in 1967 on what became the Harrier family of aircraft. I retired as Chief Test Pilot in 1983 (in those days pilots on military test programmes had to retire at age 50) then managed the Dunsfold site for a few years before leaving what was then British Aerospace to become a freelance test pilot.

During this period, in 1990, I was fortunate to be the first western test pilot invited by the Russians to fly the MiG-29 just before the wall came down. As a freelance, I also went to the USA to fly the T-45 and to Israel to fly the Lavi. I also spent some time in Indonesia flying a CN235 to get data for a simulator to be manufactured in the UK (a programme which for various reasons was professionally the most satisfying of my test flying career). My last flight in a Harrier was in 1999 when I was invited to evaluate the flight control laws developed in the UK for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

In more recent times I have been teaching various courses to encourage youngsters to become aeronautical engineers.......

A typically modest biography by John, if you'd like a more comprehensive insight into Johns life I can highly recommend his book, details available here http://www.aviewfromthehover.com/index.php

 

 
As can be seen the suit was used for DIY by JF after the Harrier!
 
Alpha helmet. Also used for the Farnborough 1982 display, as well as many others.
 
 
Knee pad. From JFs Harrier test kit. Also used at Farnborough '82.
 
Dunsfold frequencies noted on the pad.
 
Stop watch from knee pad.
 
Mini voice recorder. Used at Farnborough as well as on normal Harrier test duties.

 
Detail of voice recorder.
 
John's Notes for Farnborough '82.
 
Map for Edwards AFB from John's testing in the US. 
 
Maps showing John's route from Dunsfold to the Paris air show. 
 
 
JFs Escape knife.
 
Cloth helmet, used as an inner in the bone dome days. Then in the second half of the '80s used to display Bob Mitchell's Ryan PT22 and PT23. 
 
Mask from the Farnborough kit. 
 
 
JFs boots.
 
JFs G Trousers.
 
 John Farley flying the GR1 in Switzerland
 
Logbook pages for the Swiss trip.
 
John Farley with Bill Bedford Switzerland 1973.
 
JF flying G-VSTOL over Copacabana Beach.
 
Flying past the Cristo Redentor statue.
 
Logbook entries for the Brazil tour. 
 
 
Sugarloaf Mountain in the background.
 
JF with John Fozard.
 
Bill Bedford, Pat Farley, JF, Ralph Hooper.
 
G-VTOL Farnborough.
 
Logbook entry for Johns fist trip in the P1127.
 
JF at the controls of G-VTOL this time at the Paris air show.


1978 Farnborough ramp take off.



1966 Bedford.


1966 London Illustrated News.

 
Brazil Shed.
 
Brazil shed MkII.
 
Steep climb over the Paris air show.
 
La Salle before take off.
 
La Salle logbook entry.
 
La Salle after a vertical take off.
 
Press cutting for Dartmouth demonstration. 
 
Logbook for the '82 Farnborough sorties.
 
With Raymond Baxter as passenger.
 
 
John flying the Harrier in Lugano 1971.
 
Logbook for the Swiss flights.
 
Logbook for tests carried out on the carrier Foch.
 
JFs Harrier on the Foch.
Tests du prototype du Harrier sur le porte-avions Foch les 13 et 14 novembre 1973. (©Marine Nationale)
 
With huge thanks to John for all his time and generosity.