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Special Day

Today is a rather special day. Why? You ask.

Let me take you back to the morning of 30th May 1949. A lovely late Spring Monday morning. Just the job for a further test flight of the new type of aeroplane which Armstrong Whitworth were developing at  Bitteswell aerodrome.

So it was that Jo Lancaster, test pilot, received orders to take the new AW52 flying wing aircraft for a flight to establish limiting speed, the next stage in a progressive part of the test programme.

Over rural Warwickshire, the aircraft built up severe vibrations. Fearing complete disintegration of the plane Jo bailed-out, using for the first time in a real emergency the newly developed Martin-Baker ejection seat. He landed safely, if somewhat bruised, close to the Cuttle Inn at Long Itchington.

Today it is 70 years since that event and almost 8000 airmen and woman have been saved by the ever developed and improved ejection seat.

The celebration is doubly sweet as Jo Lancaster is still with us today, having celebrated his 100th birthday last February.


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