Flight Lieutenant Thomas ‘Tommy’ Rose, a First World War fighter ace, was a pioneer of private flying. He installed and managed the UK’s first fuel pump for private aviation at Brooklands before becoming Sales Manager for Phillips and Powis Aircraft Ltd. The chief flying instructor at several early flying schools, Tommy became the Chief Test Pilot for Miles Aircraft and was the winner of air races and pageants. He was undoubtedly a pilot who could always be relied on to amaze the onlookers with his fast, accurate stunts and low-level flying.
Mentioned in Despatches in 1916 and awarded the DFC in 1918, Tommy was attacked in his aircraft several times, yet his astonishing ability at the controls of his aircraft enabled him to land without serious injury. By the time of the Armistice, Tommy had been credited with eleven ‘kills’.
He continued to demonstrate these skills after the war and though this true trailblazer was widely known in his glory days during the early part of the twentieth century, little is remembered about him today. Yet Tommy Rose achieved the most incredible feats of aviation and was considered one of the finest pilots of his era, completing over 11,200 flying hours up to 1949.
In the 1930s, Tommy took the Imperial Airways route through East Africa, to set up a new world record on the UK to Cape Town passage, beating Amy Mollison (Johnson) who took the shorter course down the west coast. He also won the King's Cup Air Race in 1935.
Tommy flew many of the early RAF fighters from Maurice Farman to the Spitfire Mk.IX, and, from late 1939, when he was appointed Chief Test Pilot for Phillip & Powis Aircraft Ltd at Woodley (forerunners of Miles Aircraft Ltd), he test flew all Miles monoplane training and target towing aircraft, leaving in January 1946. His last position was as General Manager of Universal Flying Services Ltd at Fairoaks Aerodrome in Surrey.
The result of decades of research by the author, through this book the life and adventures of one of history’s most accomplished and daring aviators can finally be told.
SARAH CHAMBERS was born in 1952 into the Toogood family, a well-known Hampshire family who founded Toogood & Sons in 1815 based at Millbrook, Southampton. She qualified as a Registered Nurse in the 1970s and spent the next ten years working in Intensive Care, Accident and Emergency and Gynaecology where she became a Nursing Sister. In the 1980s she helped set up an Environmental Control Company for Horticulture. In the 1990s, taking a completely different career choice, Sarah ended her working life as a Company Secretary at a Point of Sale, design and manufacturing company based in the East Midlands, finally retiring in 2007. Sarah has settled in Alderney, the island Tommy Rose loved so much with her husband Brian.
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