SPITFIRE : A Test Pilot's Story
Jeffrey Kindersley Quill O.B.E., A.F.C., F.R.Ae.S. ( February 1st, 1913 - February 20th, 1996 ) was born at Littlehampton ( Sussex, England ). He was educated at Lancing College ( West Sussex ), which overlooked Shoreham aerodrome, at that time a small grass field with old hangars and a wooden hut for a flying club. Long before he left school in 1931, the nearby aerial activity had prompted Jeffrey Quill to seek a non - commissioned career in the Royal Air Force. While still a pupil at Lancing, he attended the famous annual R.A.F. displays at Hendon ( Colindale, London, England ).
At the age of 18, Jeffrey Quill was accepted into the Royal Air Force as an Acting Pilot Officer. He learned to fly at No. 3 Flying Training School ( Grantham, Lincolnshire, England ), and went solo after the short time of 5 hours 20 minutes. He graduated, and his flying ability was assessed as " Exceptional ".
In September 1932, he joined No. 17 Squadron at Upavon ( Whiltshire, England ), where he began flying Bristol Bulldog fighters. While with the " Seventeen ", he took part in the Royal Air Force display at Hendon in June 1933. At the end of the year, Jeffrey Quill was posted to the R.A.F. Meteorological Flight at Duxford ( Cambridgeshire, England ). He took command of the Flight in November 1934, and they managed to fly every slot for a whole year, regardless of " unflyable " weather and without missing a flight. For this hazardous achievement, Jeffrey Quill was awarded the Air Force Cross ( A.F.C. ) at the age of 23.
In January 1936, he applied for release from the R.A.F. and joined Vickers ( Aviation ) Ltd at Brooklands, as assistant to its Chief Test Pilot, Joseph " Mutt " Summers ( 1904 - 1954 ). His long association with the Spitfire began when, aged 23, he made his first flight in the prototype fighter K5054 ( March 26th, 1936 ). After transferring full - time to Vickers Supermarine in 1938, Jeffrey Quill took complete charge of Spitfire test flying, working closely with Joseph " Joe " Smith ( 1897 - 1956 ) who had taken over as Chief Designer for Supermarine in 1937, following the death of R.J. Mitchell in the same year.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Jeffrey Quill was in charge of development and production flying at Vickers Supermarine. Following the fall of France in 1940, he was determined to rejoin a fighter Squadron. He was temporarily released on August 5th, 1940 to join No. 65 Squadron at R.A.F. Hornchurch ( present - day the London Borough of Havering, Greater London, England ). During the Battle of Britain, he managed to claim two aerial victories ( the second one was shared ), but he was recalled after nineteen days to test the Spitfire Mark III.
By 1942, the Luftwaffe's Focke - Wulf Fw 190 was gaining the edge over the latest Spitfire Mark Vb, and it was an urgent priority to capture an airworthy example. On June 23rd, 1942, a disoriented German pilot mistook the Bristol Channel for the English Channel and landed an Fw 190 A - 3 at R.A.F. Pembrey ( Carmarthenshire, Wales ) ! Not long afterwards, Jeffrey Quill flew the captured German aircraft at Farnborough ( Hampshire, England ).
From November 1943 to April 1944, he served with the Fleet Air Arm, as a Lieutenant Commander, helping to develop better carrier - deck - landings with the Supermarine Seafire, the naval version of the Spitfire. By the end of the war, he had personally test - flown all variants of the Spitfire and Seafire.
In the immediate postwar era, Jeffrey Quill continued as a test pilot. Later, he became a military aircraft marketing executive for the British Aircraft Corporation ( B.A.C. ). After his retirement, he became a prolific author, chronicling the Spitfire and its legacy.
( source : Wikipedia )