Flight Engineers Log – Background


(Aircraft Operating Crew)



Details from a unique Flight Engineers log are reproduced here to illustrate a number of things.

Test flying is very different from commercial flying. It is irregular – sometimes with periods of intense activity –  other times quiet, for example while modifications to the test aircraft are made.

It is important to note that the Log records the activity of one member of the test-team – a snap-shot of goings on at de Havilland. Testing a number of aeroplanes often took place in parallel – requiring a number test personnel.

A lot of the entries relate to routine work – but between entries a pattern can be discerned. It is particularly interesting, for example, to see how, as part of a sales package, crew training could result in months of work based abroad. Subsequent flying involved supervising civilian crews operating on scheduled airline routes.

The personal flying Log book was issued by the ministry of transport and civil aviation.

Leslie Edward Fiddian Young (LEFY) started the Log on the 4th November 1953 after a moving from the de Havilland Aircraft Company at Hawarden Aerodrome, Chester to Company headquarters at Hatfield in Hertfordshire.

Between the starting date and 29th March 1954 he operated as a Flight Engineer EII, that is, ‘Flight Engineer acting under supervision’.

From 29th March onwards he was rated as EI for the particular aircraft for which he had been checked out – in this case the Comet 2. E1 meant he was ‘responsible for the operation of the aircraft power units and auxiliary systems’.


Typical Page from the Log Book

The Logbook gives details of dates, aircraft type, their markings, and Test Pilot for that particular flight. It usually gives origin and destination or, if more appropriate, the nature of the flight – this related particularly to test and experimental flights. Finally it includes the total number of flying hours in charge for that particular entry and the total number of flying hours accumulated to date.

There is also an annual Summary of hours accumulated for each full year and this figure is confirmed by the signature of the Chief Test Pilot – during the period under review the Chief Test Pilot was John Cunningham.

Production tests were performed on each aircraft. A progress board was set up listing all the airframes currently under test. Air and ground tests too were performed. Approximately fifteen hours production test flying was accumulated per aircraft and this was spread over three or more flights – assuming nothing too serious was found to be amiss.


Licence issued in Kenya

Pat Fillingham was responsible for these flights as he was the Chief Production test pilot. A flight test observer would often be carried, such as Stan Borrie.


Test Crew at Hatfield 

LEFY became Deputy Chief Flight Engineer to Brackston-Brown. They were regularly assisted by Desmond L.Watts. Production testing covered cabin pressurization checks, ascertaining the ‘high Mach number’, undertaking a high altitude run, cruising and fuel consumption checks, high IAS run, stall, any snag checks and engine handling out.


Brief Profile of crew members is as follows (abbreviations for name in brackets) – apologies for anyone inadvertently omitted. This would be because there was no reference to them in the Log (actually it is the fate of most First Officers and Flight Engineers to remain anonymous).

(JC) Group Captain John Cunningham

– Chief Test Pilot from 1947 and became a director in 1958. Joined the Company in 1938 and with the RAF. became Britain’s the highest scoring night-fighter pilot with twenty ‘kills’. He first flew the prototype Comet, G-5-1, in 1949 and had subsequently set up many records with it. He was Chief Pilot on the Comet 3 around the world flight which took place in 1955 and, in 1958, Commanded a Comet 4 on the fasted ever Atlantic crossing by an airliner. He also Commanded and the fastest long ever flight to Hong Kong from London in daylight taking 16hrs 16 min. flying time. OBE.; DSO. (two bars) and the D.F.C. (and bar).

(PBa) Peter Barlow

joined the Royal Navy as an engineering apprentice in 1942 and became officer cadet in 1944. He attended R.N. engineering college until 1948, then served as an engineering lieutenant on HMS Victorius. He learned to fly in 1949 and then served with 804 Sqd. flying Sea Furies from HMS Glory and during the Korean War was awarded the D.F.C. He attended E.T.P.S. 1953 and in 1954 served 3 years at Boscombe Down. He was seconded to de Havilland for Sea Vixen development in 1957. He resigned his commission and joined the firm in 1958 and had since been employed on Sea Vixen, Comet and Trident.

(PB) Peter Bois

– born near Farnham, Surrey in 1919. Began flying with the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1939. In Oct. 1940 joined 115 Sqd., Marham flying Wellingtons. May 1941 OTU Instructor and then transferred to Ferry training flight March ’42. Obt. qualification as Specialist in Navigation. Joined 511 Sqd. as Ft/Lt and became Sqd. Leader. 1946 joined Scandinavian Airlines on the North Atlantic run in DC4& 6s then joined Comet development team in 1950. Left DH in 1956.

(PBu) Peter Buggé

– Chief Development Test Pilot with the Company from 1945. He was born at Kristiansund, Norway in 1918 and entered the Norwegian airforce in 1939. After the German invasion of Norway he escaped to Britain and eventually joined the RAF in 1941 – serving with No’s 604, 255 and 85 Squadrons. He flew Beaufighters and Mosquitos.In December 1955 he co-piloted the Comet 3 on the round world flight. And in July Commanded the BEA 4B that won the prize for originality and ingenuity in the Daily Mail Blériot Air Race.



PF) W.P.I. (Pat) Fillingham

– Development Test pilot who joined the Company in 1936 as a student at the de Havilland school. he was appointed a test pilot in 1939. He moved to the Canadian division of the Company in 1943 to test fly the Mosquito and train other pilots and later demonstrated it in America and Australia. He won the Kings Cup Race in 1953. A.F.R.Ae.S.

(JH) J.E. Hanslip

– Development Test pilot re-joined the Company in 1947. He had previously been with de Havilland at Leavesden and trained as a pilot with the R.N.V.R. He served with the F.A.A. from 1942 to 1945. Before returning to Hatfield he was at their Chester (1948 – 53) and Christchurch (1953-58) factories.

(JP) J.H. Phillips

– learned to fly as a National Serviceman at 6 FTS, Turnhill in 1949 and subsequently served with 604 Sqd. and 610 Sqd. Royal Aux. Air Force flying Vampire and Meteors. He joined de Havilland at Chester in 1953 flight testing Vampires and Venoms. He moved to de Havilland’s Propeller Division at Hatfield in 1955 and then transferred to the de Havilland Aircraft Co. in 1960 where he was engaged in Comet and Trident test flying.

(PW) P.A. Wilson

– joined de Havilland. in 1957 as a Comet Development Test pilot. He served in the RAF from 1942 with No’s 42 with 558 and 160 Squadrons. S.E.A.A.F. He joined Scottish Airline in 1948 and BEA in 1950. He moved to the BOAC Comet fleet in 1952 and on to the Constellation fleet in 1954. He was Development pilot with Hunting-Clan Air Transport from 1955 before returning to the Company.