Harald Penrose was Westland's Chief Test Pilot 1931 to 1953. His son, Ian Penrose, recalls how fate was to play a hand in getting his father's flying career off the ground

When he was growing up, he was treated to a flight in an Avro 504 by Sir Alan Cobham’s Flying Circus and he was hooked on aircraft. So, much against his father’s wishes, in that his father wanted him to be a doctor, he enrolled in London University at the Northampton Aero College division. He applied for various jobs, I think including De Haviland. He ended up going down to Yeovil and rather fell for the West Country. He was basically employed as an engineer on covering the Wigeon aeroplane which they were making at the time and he had a bit of luck personally in that the chief test pilot, who was a much older man, had a really quite bad crash and that meant that Louis Paget could no longer be the test pilot and Pa, who had been allowed to get his licence by Westlands, and he got that at Bristol, then began to take over the flying and became chief test pilot and he was chief test pilot from 1932, I believe, for the next twenty-three years. The pilot thing just fell his way because he was so desperately keen to fly. I think he was probably quite personable and he probably talked to everybody until they gave in and allowed him to fly, to be frank. Very single-minded, Pa, when he wanted to be.

Dad always referred to the aircraft industry as a family. If you invented something, or something worked, you rang up all the others and you said look, this will make your life a bit safer and certainly after the war he very much bemoaned the way that the industry went in that it was anything but that type of psyche.


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