As the Empire Test Pilots’ School – based at MOD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, and run by QinetiQ –celebrates its 70th anniversary, we take a look back at some of the past graduates of the School. All of our graduates are testament to the superior standard of tuition that ETPS has provided since 1944; however, some have gone on to achieve even further accolades in their careers. Here is a small selection of them:
The school of 1944/5 taught two particularly outstanding pupils: Mr Januusz Zurakowski was a highly decorated Polish and RAF Spitfire pilot and later a test pilot with Glosters (Meteor and Javelin) and Avro Canada (Arrow); and Lieutenant Colonel John R Muehlberg USAF (Rtd) became the first Commandant, US Air Force Test Pilot School.
Lieutenant Commander Peter Twiss OBE, DSC & Bar RN (Rtd) (course 1945) raised the world air speed record from 822.1mph to 1,132mph, and was the first to exceed 1,000mph in level flight in a supersonic delta-winged Fairey Delta 2 research aircraft, on 10 March 1956.
Squadron Leader Neville Duke DSO, OBE, DFC, (Two Bars), AFC RAF (Rtd) (course 1946/7) was a World War II fighter ace, later a Hawker Aircraft test pilot, setting a new world air speed record of 727.63mph on 7 September 1953, flying Hunter WB188.
Colonel Bill Pogue USAF (Rtd) (course 1963) went on to pilot Skylab 4 space station, 1973-4; Mr Al Worden (1964) was command module pilot for the Apollo 15 moon mission, 1971; and Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Baudry French Air Force (Rtd) (1978) flew aboard the NASA Space Shuttle mission STS-51-G in 1985.
M. Jean-Pierre Haigneré (course 1981) a French Air Force pilot, was later CNES and European Space Agency cosmonaut on the 1993 Franco-Russian Altair and 1999 Soyuz TM-29 missions to the Mir space station.
M. Claude Nicollier (course 1988) was the first astronaut from Switzerland to fly on four Space Shuttle missions. He also became Professor of Spatial Technology at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne from 2007.
M. Frank Viscount de Winne (course 1992) was the first European Space Agency astronaut to command a space mission, serving as Commander of the 2009 International Space Station Expedition 21 – his second ISS mission.
And finally, Major Tim Peake AAC (Rtd) (course 2005) is a former British Army Air Corps helicopter pilot, and the first British citizen selected as an astronaut by the ESA.