Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sqn Ldr Waldo Price-Owen 1916-1969

Sqn Ldr Waldo Price-Owen was born at Betton Abbots near Shrewsbury on 28th February 1916. He was inspired to fly by the exploits of Hinkler, Kingsford-Smith, Mollison and other aviators of the time. In 1937 he enlisted in the RAF and was posted to Ansty for ab initio training on Avro Cadets,which took him only 2 months, he was commissioned and posted to Egypt to undergo his service training at Abu-Sueir. He was awarded his wings in February 1938, after flying on Hawker Hart’s.

He was posted to No8 (Bomber) Sqn at Aden, who were equipped with Vickers Vincents. While with that squadron he was on operations against insurgent tribes in Yemen and Hadhramaut in the south west corner of Arabia. He remained on that work until 1939,when he returned to Egypt and was posted to No33 (Fighter) Sqn and then to No112 (Fighter)Sqn which were equipped with Gloster Galdiators. He was stationed with the latter squadron at Helwan when war was declared in 1939.

In 1940 he joined No80Sqn to take part in the war in Greece,where he remained until April 1941. He then went to the Gold Coast as Convoy leader, ferrying new aircraft across Equatorial Africa to Cairo. Some of these were American aircraft, so when shortly after this he was sent to Port Sudan, he was able to begin his career as a test pilot, and was made Chief Test Pilot of the station that assembled American aircraft which arrived by sea. After three months he was sent to Eastleigh, Kenya, as Chief Test Pilot of the station, testing Mohawks and other American aircraft for the South African Airforce.

After tours at an Operational Training Unit back in the UK and a further tour in the Mediterranean area, came the turning point in his career, when he went for test flying in a big way. He went through No2 course at ETPS. During this time, he was attached to Fairey Aviation Co Ltd, whose test airfield was at Heathrow. He flew production Fireflies.

From January to March, 1945, he was attached to Westland Aircraft at Yeovil testing Seafires and Welkins under Harald Penrose. At his own request he was then posted to the Aircraft and Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down and ws engaged on experimental flying on single and twin-engined aircraft. He was awarded the King’s commendation for his work and was given command of ‘A’ Squadron. During this time he also did a deck landing course on HMS Premier. This was his last appointment with the RAF.

In August 1947, he joined Armstrong-Siddeleys as Chief Test Pilots at Bitteswell,near Rugby. He was the first pilot to fly a single engine turboprop aircraft,when in 1948, he made the maiden flight of the Boulton Paul Balliol trainer, which was fitted with the Armstrong-Siddeley Mamba engine. In 1951 he left the aviation industry to pursue other interests.

He had flown over 2,000hours on more than 82 different types, including the Python-Wyvern, Lancaster with experimental Sapphire jet.