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Newsletter 17
Summer 2007
Updated on 28Jul2007
Contents
Editorial
Aces, Erks, Backroom Boys
Annual General Meeting
Dunsfold Wings and Wheels
EDO to Project Office
Eric Rubython
F-35 Lightning News
From Ribs to Retirement
Hawk News
Hawker Nimrod Query
Hawker People News
Hunters Still Active
Kingston Aviation Heritage
Members
Programme
Racing Gliders
Unlocking Potential
Upper Heyford Recollection
V/STOL Wheel of Misfortune
Why Pay More

Published by the Hawker Association
for the Members.
Contents Hawker Association

 
    Here is Duncan Simpson's personal recollection of a flight with Eric Rubython...
    To us at Dunsfold Eric Rubython appeared a rather distant senior director at Kingston. He rarely visited the aerodrome and aeroplanes were somewhat of a mystery to him; flying was to be avoided if at all possible.
    But came the day that Eric was completing a difficult week closing down Hawker factories in the Midlands when he wished for transport back home to Wonersh as 'rapidly' as possible. It so happened that I was available on 25th March 1965 and was persuaded to fly our de Havilland Rapide to Bitteswell to pick up the Commercial Director and take him to Dunsfold.
     So, I set off knowing that an active cold front lay up the west coast of England, but provided we returned on time there was no cause for concern. However, at Bitteswell my concern began to increase as time passed waiting for my busy passenger, and by the end of two hours the front, a very active line squall, was itself progressing 'rapidly'.
An Unusual Occurrence At Upper Heyford

toptoptop
    I explained the situation to Eric when he arrived and we climbed aboard. After about ten minutes airborne heavy rain and turbulence hit us. I confess that I had not expected such extreme conditions and decided that I must land and wait for the front to go through.
    I caught sight of Upper Heyford runway - just one end of it - and called the USAF for landing clearance. An aggressive American controller replied "What's your praablem?". I said I was now declaring an emergency landing and would explain matters when on the ground.
    The final approach in blinding rain, considerable crosswind and turbulence was not easy and we were lucky to keep straight and not burst a tyre.
    We came to a halt in the middle of the airfield and were immediately surrounded by Jeeps carrying armed US military police, 'whitecaps'. I called back to Eric (a rather pale Eric) to let me do the talking. I shall never forget him descending from the Rapide to be greeted by a 'whitecap' holding a gun to his left ear.
     Now, Upper Heyford was a USAF Strategic Air Command base and the boss, General Curtis Le May, was in the habit of sending in test cases to catch them out on security. And here was a gaily painted, antique, twin engined biplane, a man in flying overalls, and an immaculate gentleman in a natty pin-stripe suit complete with brief case claiming, to be a Director of a major aviation company.
    Within minutes we were in the guardroom, a bare cell with three chairs. Could we identify ourselves, asked the MPs? "Ah, yes" says our Commercial Director, opening his bulging brief case; but it contained not one piece of paper bearing his name or position. We suggested that they 'phoned Kingston and after two hours under guard we were eventually released. Then, a hire car to Wonersh.
    The following day I received a charming letter from Eric thanking me for saving him, saving the aeroplane, and saving me.
    That was the end of our favourite DH 89A Rapide, G-AHGC, and we took delivery of a new, modern, de Havilland dove airliner, G-ASMG.
    Footnotes. I collected the Rapide from Upper Heyford the following day. Sure enough the starboard engine harness was saturated and the Gipsy Six ran rough until we were over Oxford. Shamefully, the Rapide was dismantled and unceremoniously dumped on the Dunsfold's November 5th bonfire! Following many protests it was removed, rebuilt and flown to the Channel Islands.
    Eric Rubython was a 'people person' relating to all levels of the Company and many of us remember various acts of kindness, although from time to time he had his other moments - don't we all! He was, in his spare time, a keen gardener, golfer and fisherman and maintained an interest in all sports.
    He leaves a widow, Joan, in the USA to whom we offer our condolences. Typically he left his body to medical science depriving us of the opportunity of paying our last respects to a much respected colleague and leading figure in the aircraft industry. There was a sad lack of written appreciation in this country which these few inadequate words seek to put right.