The Editor remembers Hugh as a
flight testing colleague...
When I joined Flight Development in 1961 Bill Bedford was Chief Test
Pilot, Hugh was his deputy, both covering P.1127 experimental flying,
with Duncan Simpson and David Lockspeiser concerned mainly with
production Hunters. I, as a junior engineer, found Hugh a joy to work
with; his verbal post-flight debriefs were clear and concise and he was
always quick to come to our office, then in the Production Hangar, as
soon as the paper trace instrumentation rolls were developed and dried
by John Weeks in the Instrumentation Laboratory in the Experimental
Hangar. We would unroll them on our desks and, with cardboard cursors
that we had made from the calibrations, read off the data that Hugh was
anxious to see: RPM, JPT, control deflections, throttle position,
rates, attitudes and so on. He would compare this with his kneepad
notes and write the Test Flight Report.
Merewether And Flight Development
also wrote the major part of the large reports, each covering a
complete phase of test flying, the FRDs (Flight Reports Dunsfold),
although Bill usually signed them off as well. It was one of our more
demanding and enjoyable tasks to carry out the analysis of the recorded
data and prepare for Hugh the graphs and tables that he carefully
specified for these reports. He was very particular that the data
should be well presented and it went without saying that it should be
accurate. Hugh always had time to sit with the flight development
engineers and patiently explain analysis methods that people such as
me, fresh from university, would still be unfamiliar with.
For some reason Hugh kept the meaning of his initials, HCH, a secret
from us in Flight Development for a long time until one day, on a visit
to Beford, I think, he was forced to give his full name, in front of
Ambrose Barber, to the security officer - Hugh Christopher Henry he
muttered as quietly as possible - but the cat was out of the bag!
Hugh was a charming and reserved man, tall and slim, but physically a
rather restless and fidgety person and, when pondering a problem, would
rub the back of his head, up and down, with his hand. We both drove to
Dunsfold along the A281 so I would often follow him in his blue-grey
Jaguar XK150 coupe. He must have used this driving time to think
because I would see, through the back window, the hand rubbing the head
as he drove along; there was no mistaking Hugh!