Ambrose Barber was lucky enough to learn to fly as a young National Seviceman in the early 1950s. After leaving the RAF he flew as a part-time instructor at Fair Oaks until he answered a Hawker Aircraft Ltd advertisement for a flight test technician at Dunsfold aerodrome. Even before he started work he had...
AN ENCOUNTER WITH CAMM
In 1956 Hawker's design team was still based at Canbury Park Road and it was there that I was called for interview with Bob Marsh. During this I learned more of what the job at Dunsfold as flight test technician would entail. Bob headed up the design projects and it was the role of his Project Office to be the conceptual 'sharp end' of Hawker's leadership in fighter design. From time to time projects gave birth to prototypes and his department had a small section at Dunsfold to brief the test pilots and monitor the results.
The Hawker P.1067 was undergoing continuous development as the single-seat Hunter, and the first P.1011 two seater would soon be joined by a second prototype. Bob's Technical Office at Dunsfold was run by Fred Sutton, for whom I would work and, yes, the new two-seaters might provide the occasional opportunity for a flight test observer.
The interview seemed to be going quite promisingly when in walked the commanding figure of Sydney Camm, Hawker's revered chief designer. Sir Sydney asked various questions which he addressed through Marsh, starting with "Where's he been?" and followed by "What's he flown?"
Bob looked at me while I reeled off seven types, some of which I thought should go down quite well, until prompted by Camm's unimpressed snort, I realised that none of them had been designed by the great man himself!