Monday, July 06, 2009

W/Cdr Jack M.Henderson OBE AFC* 1931-1990

Jack Morton Henderson was born on 4 November 1931 and spent four years in dairy farming and banking in New Zealand. He joined the RAF in 1950 and was posted for pilot training and intensive study to Cranwell in 1951-1953, where he earned the Queen's Medal and four other awards. He completed the RAF flying instructors' course in 1954 with special distinction then served as staff instructor in 1954-56, instructing on jets and pistons, including ground instruction and training instructors.

Henderson graduated from the ETPS in 1959, gaining the Edwards Award for outstanding performance, and joined the RAE Aero Flight where he made the first flight of HP.115 on 17 August 1961.

Besides his intensive flying on the HP.115, Henderson played an instrumental role in the success of the Hawker P.1127, which evolved into the Harrier. In November 1961 he evaluated the P.1127 on behalf of Aero Flight, the Royal Aircraft Establishment, in a series of six flights and was the first service pilot to fly the type.

Henderson, who was OC of RAE Aero Flight, also commanded units formulating and flight-testing novel concepts, such as the jet VSTOL, delta wings, slender wings, and electronic flight controls. He flew on the Short SC.1, AVRO 707A and C, Hunting H.126, Short SB.5.

Henderson also tested and advised on American, German, Canadian and French research aircraft, such as the Bell X-14, Dornier Do.31 test rig, EWR VJ101 and Ryan VZ-3.

Henderson was also involved in establishing new flight test techniques and flew 160 types and Mks of aircraft. He served as RAF Project Manager for the Anglo-French Jaguar aircraft programme and planned and controlled flying display and all supporting arrangements for the 1968 and 1970 SBAC "Farnborough International" Airshows.

Sadly, Henderson had suffered long periods of illness and was retired as a Wing Commander on medical grounds in the late 1960s.His illness grew increasingly worse and he passed away on 20 September 1990. He was married to Joan Henderson and had a son and a daughter and was holder of OBE, Air Force Cross (AFC) and Bar.