Monday, February 15, 2010

G/C Edgar Norman Ryder DFC* 1914-1995

Norman Ryder (2nd left) with other pilots from 41 Sqn

Medal awarded to G/Capt E.N Ryder for competing in the race.

G/C Edgar Norman Ryder was Commissioned in October 1936,he was shot down and captured, whilst CO of Kenley Wing, 31 October 1941 after gaining 7.25 kills. He retired from RAF in October 1960, retaining rank of Group Captain.

He was third in the 1959 Bleriot Daily Mail Air Race between London and Paris flying a Hawker Hunter.

AVM Charles Maughan CB CBE AFC 1923-2009

An RAF fighter and bomber pilot who commanded Hawker Hunter and Avro Vulcan squadrons in the 1950s and 1960s and subsequently rose to become Senior Air Staff Officer of Strike Command, Charles Maughan made headlines in July 1959, when he was CO of 65 Squadron, as the winner of the Daily Mail London-Paris air race that was staged to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Louis Blériot’s pioneering cross-Channel flight.
The “Arch to Arc” contest, which began at Marble Arch and ended at the Arc de Triomphe, involved competitors in desperate measures not merely in the air (which was perhaps the easiest part of the course) but on the roads of the respective capital cities and their environs, as the contestants strove first to get from the centre of London to an airfield not too far distant, and then having flown the Channel to get from their landing point in France to the finishing line.
The rules of the race stipulated that the laws and regulations of both Britain and France (particularly air navigation laws and road speed restrictions) must be complied with. Within those restrictions the race was open to anyone, using any form of transport he or she liked, and there were more than 200 competitors ranging from well organised teams such as those of the RAF to eccentric individuals.
From Marble Arch Maughan was driven at a furious pace as a pillion passenger on a motorcycle to Chelsea Embankment where a helicopter was waiting to carry him to Biggin Hill in Kent. There a Hunter T7, with dual side-by-side seating, was waiting, cleared for immediate take-off, with turbojet engine running and Flight Lieutenant Jim Burns at the controls. This streaked across the Channel at high subsonic speeds and touched down at the Armée de l’Air’s Villacoubly base on the south side of Paris, where another helicopter was waiting to get him to the centre of Paris.
There, a motorcycle was waiting to get Maughan as close to the Arc de Triomphe, as it could without infringing Paris’s traffic regulations. The squadron leader then completed the course with a 100-yard dash to the finishing line, in what proved to be the winning time from Marble Arch of 40 minutes 44 seconds.
In practice for the race Maughan had (illegally) arranged for the traffic lights on the route from Marble Arch to Chelsea to be held at green, by getting fellow airmen from 65 Squadron to jump up and down on the pressure pads in the road. But on the day the police, who had got wise to the practice, put a stop to it.
The leader of the RAF’s team, Group Captain E. N. Ryder, was third in a time of 42min 6sec, having injured his leg in a motorcycle accident in Paris. British contestants scooped the top three prizes, £5,000, £2,500 and £1,500, with a civilian, Eric Rylands, taking second place in 41min 41sec.
Charles Gilbert Maughan was born in 1923 and educated at Sir George Monoux Grammar School and Harrow County School. Called up into the Armed Forces in 1942, he served for the rest of the Second World War as a pilot in the Fleet Air Arm, flying first the biplane “Stringbag” Swordfish antisubmarine patrol bombers and then a very different proposition, the Supermarine Seafire fighter, the naval version of the Spitfire. Among his duties in this period was flying sorties from escort carriers on convoys from Londonderry to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
He was demobilised in 1946, and went to work in the GPO. But he was determined to continue flying and in 1949 was accepted by the RAF, now entering the jet age.
His first operational posting was to 263 Squadron, flying Meteors, and he also served with Vampire and Venom squadrons in the UK and with RAF Germany. He soon made a reputation for himself as a first-class fighter pilot and fighter leader, and in 1958 was appointed to command 65 Squadron, then flying Hunters.
Its most conspicuous feat under his command was its victory in the Arch to Arc race, by which time he had raised it to a peak of efficiency. His winning time, achieved on July 22, 1959, was the last of several runs he made over the course; competitors were allowed to make a number of attempts over the two-week period alloted to the race. Maughan was awarded the Air Force Cross for his feat.
In 1964 he was appointed to command 9 Squadron (of sinking the Tirpitz fame), by then a Vulcan nuclear strike squadron at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. His appointment was part of a Bomber Command initiative to draw in high-quality airmen who had not necessarily flown bombers for most of their careers.
Maughan mastered the large and powerful Vulcan and kept his squadron sharply focused during its stressful periods on Quick Reaction Alert.
QRA, which was in force throughout one of the chilliest periods of the Cold War, involved one aircraft in each of the Vulcan nuclear strike squadrons being on the runway, armed with a nuclear bomb and ready to take off within 15 minutes of the alarm being sounded. The alert was mounted in all weathers, day and night, 365 days of the year.
Subsequent appointments included command of RAF Honington, which was being developed as an air-to-air refuelling base, with its Handley Page Victor tankers, and of RAF Waddington, another Vulcan nuclear strike base. As air attaché in Bonn, 1970-73, at the period when the tri-national Multi-Role Combat Aircraft was being planned, he was able to bring his long-range nuclear strike experience to bear on the arguments that raged around the aircraft’s development into the successful Tornado.
His two final appointments were as Air Officer Administration at Strike Command, responsible for personnel, 1974-75, and as SASO to the Command, 1977-78, responsible to the commander-in-chief for operational matters on the RAF’s front line. He had been appointed CBE in 1970 and CB in 1976.
In retirement from the RAF he was General Secretary of the Royal British Legion, 1978-83, and was an independent panel inspector at the Department of the Environment, 1983-94.