Aviation Historian 11
M.Willis - From Farmer to Test Pilot
Menzies at the controls of D.H.9A J8189 of No 45 Sqn, based at Helwan, Egypt, during his tenure with the unit from October 1928 to June 1929.
Menzies’ move to the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath in the spring of 1933 enabled the 27-year-old to get his hands on the most advanced types of the day, including the sleek Hawker Hart light bomber. Hart J9937 spent time at the A&AEE and was probably flown by Menzies while there.
Menzies (right) and Fit Lt Greenslade stand beside Parnall-built Avro 504K F8709 after the former’s first solo flight, at Abu Sueir in February 1928. The “E" in the aircraft’s serial is erroneous, E8709 being an Airco D.H.9A.
Pilot Officer Duncan Menzies in the cockpit of Avro 504K F8709 after his first solo flight on February 9, 1928. After an eventful RAF career, mainly in the Middle East, Menzies would go on to become well-known as a test pilot for Fairey Aviation, which he joined in 1935.
The first production Blackburn Shark, K4349, the aircraft in which Menzies made a skilful forced landing in a field during a ferry flight in December 1934.
The second aircraft in which Menzies had to make a forced landing after engine failure while at the A&AEE was Vickers Vildebeest III K4164, seen here following its conversion to Mk IV configuration. On January 7, 1935, Menzies experienced engine failure in the aircraft and had to put down in a field near Trimley St Martin in Suffolk.
Three Fairey IIIFs of No 47 Sqn at Kassaia, Sudan. The “SR” serials signify that the original wooden airframes had been rebuilt with metal parts, more suitable for the tropical climate.
Duncan Menzies (in white overalls) beside a Fairey IIIF in Egypt, probably while he was serving with No 47 Sqn. Moving from Helwan to Khartoum in October 1927, the unit used its Fairey IIIFs to co-operate with the Sudan Defence Force in policing the desert regions of the area.
Flying Officer Menzies (third from right, standing) poses with a group beside an Avro 504N, a type on which he established a reputation as a “crazy flying” specialist. The 504N was an updated 504K, with the latter’s rotary engine replaced with an Armstrong Siddeley Lynx radial engine, hence being known as the “Lynx-Avro”.