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Sunday, 25 March, 2001, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Concorde test pilot dies
Brian Trubshaw marking an aviation milestone in 1999
Marking the 30th anniversary of Concorde's maiden flight
The first British test pilot of Concorde has died at the age of 77.

Brian Trubshaw described the maiden 22-minute flight from Filton near Bristol to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire on 9 April 1969 as "the highlight of my aviation career".

That career began as an RAF pilot in World War II and he likened being at the controls of the supersonic aircraft to "travelling faster than a rifle bullet".

It is not unreasonable to look upon Concorde as a miracle

Brian Trubshaw
His enthusiasm for Concorde continued even after last summer's fateful crash near Paris, which killed 113 people.

He insisted that the plane was still safe to fly.

Mr Trubshaw died at his home near Tetbury, Gloucestershire, on Saturday and his wife, Yvonne, said: "It was very peaceful, he hadn't been ill."

The couple have a stepdaughter, Sally.

Howard Berry, a spokesman for BAE Systems, who worked for Mr Trubshaw before his retirement in 1986, said: "He'll be greatly missed in the world of aerospace."

He'll be greatly missed in the world of aerospace

Howard Berry
BAE Systems spokesman
Mr Trubshaw's autobiography was launched the day after the Paris crash and his book opened with the sentence: "It is not unreasonable to look upon Concorde as a miracle".

Interviewed by BBC Television after the crash, he said: "It would be wrong for me to say I was astonished. It was an incident I hoped never would happen, but at the same time one has to be realistic."

"Being mixed up with aviation for as long as I have, one knew that one day we could be faced with this situation."

In his book, "Concorde: The Inside Story", he said he remembered the aircraft's test day as if it were yesterday.

Crew members were issued with air-ventilated suits and parachutes and the pre-flight checklist took one hour.

Brian Trubshaw on Concorde's maiden flight
Brian Trubshaw: Highlight of aviation career
Mr Trubshaw said: "We were off down the runway with extremely rapid acceleration."

He flew Concorde 002, the British prototype, again on 14 June 1969 in honour of the Queen's official birthday, passing over Buckingham Palace at 1,500ft.

He was first inspired to become a pilot when at the age of 10 he saw the Prince of Wales's aircraft land on the beach at Pembrey, Carmarthenshire, near where his family lived.

Prestigious career

He joined the RAF at Lord's cricket ground in 1942 and trained in the US, learning to fly Stearman biplanes.

Qualification as a bomber pilot followed and he joined the prestigious King's Flight in 1946, flying members of the Royal Family and attending private parties with Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

He joined Vickers-Armstrong as a test pilot on V-bombers and tested the dropping of Britain's first atom bomb.

Mr Trubshaw amassed 11,000 flying hours in more than 100 types of aircraft, including Lancaster and B52 bombers, Vampires, Hornets, Meteors and Tiger Moths.

He was awarded the OBE in 1964 and the CBE in 1970 and was awarded the French Aeronautical Medal in 1976.

The British and French governments signed an agreement in 1962 to develop Concorde and he was selected as test pilot.

The supersonic aircraft went into commercial service seven years after the maiden flight and Mr Trubshaw later said he had doubted whether it ever would because of political opposition.

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See also:

23 Oct 00 | Europe
New clue to Concorde crash
21 Sep 00 | Europe
Concorde lands safely
06 Sep 00 | Europe
Concorde 'will fly again'
09 Apr 99 | The Company File
Supersonic birthday
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