Web Page No 2302
19th September 2016
Top Picture: Lt Cdr Peter Twiss
Second Picture: First Day Cover
Third Picture: Peter Twiss in later life.
Lionel Peter Twiss OBE, DSC & Bar was a British test pilot who holds the World Air Speed Record as the first man to fly faster than 1,000 mph .
He was born in Lindfield, Sussex and lived with his grandmother while his parents were in India and Burma. He was the grandson of an admiral and the son of an army officer. He went to school at Haywards Heath and later at Sherborne School. In 1938 he was employed as an apprentice tea-taster by Brooke Bond in London, before returning to the family farm near Salisbury.
Amazingly he was rejected as a pilot by the Fleet Air Arm, but was accepted as a Naval Airman Second Class at the outbreak of the Second World War. After training at 14 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School, Castle Bromwich, he went on to fly Fairey Battles and Hawker Harts. He underwent operational training at RNAS Yeovilton flying Blackburn Rocs, Blackburn Skuas and Gloster Gladiators. His next posting was at the School of Army Co-operation at Andover, flying Bristol Blenheims as a twin conversion. He was then posted to 771 Squadron in the Orkney Islands, flying a variety of naval aircraft on various duties, including metobservations at 12000 ft in winter in the open cockpit of a Fairey Swordfish, and target-towing duties.
He was then posted to a Merchant Ship Fighter Unit on catapult ships flying Hawker Hurricanes. These missions required the pilot to ditch or bale out in the expectation of being recovered by a passing ship. During the Malta Convoys in 1942, he flew Fairey Fulmars with 807 Squadron, from the carrier HMS Argus. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) in June 1942. Later in the year the squadron converted to Supermarine Seafires flying from HMS Furious for the Operation Torch landings in North Africa. During the Allied landings in Algeria and Morocco he added a bar to his DSC, gazetted in March 1943. By this time he had shot down one Italian aircraft 14 May 1942 and damaged another.
He then flew long-range intruder operations over Germany from RNAS Ford, developing night fighter tactics with the RAF's Fighter Interception Unit. Ford, also acted as an operational research unit, and so he flew missions over occupied Europe in Beaufighters and Mosquitoes.
Later in 1944 he was sent to the British Air Commission Washington DC, where he had the opportunity to test various prototype aircraft and evaluated airborne radar equipment. He servedin the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. By the end of the war he was a lieutenant commander. In 1945 he attended No. 3 Course at the Empire Test Pilots' School (ETPS), then based at RAF Cranfield and then to the Naval Squadron at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down.
After leaving the service in 1946, he joined Fairey Aviation as a test pilot and flew many of the company's aircraft, including the Fairey Rotodyne compound-helicopter. In 1947 he entered the Lympne Air Races flying a Firefly IV, winning the high-speed race at 305.93 mph. He worked for two years on the Fairey Delta 2, a supersonic delta-winged research plane. On 17 November 1955 this aircraft suffered engine and consequently hydraulic power problems on a test flight, but he managed to crash land at Boscombe Down. He received the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service for this feat. The aircraft was repaired and on 10 March 1956 he flew the aircraft and broke the World Speed Record, raising it to 1,132 mph an increase of some 300 mph over the record set the year before.
In 1960, Fairey Aviation was sold to Westland Aircraft, a helicopter manufacturer, which was not his area of expertise and he left after a career in which he had piloted more 140 different types of aircraft. That year he joined Fairey Marine and was responsible for development and sales of day-cruisers. He appeared in the film From Russia with Love driving one of the company's speedboats. His work as a marine consultant led to directorships of Fairey Marine (1968–78) and Hamble Point Marina (1978–88).
In 1969, driving the Fairey Huntsman 707 Fordsport, he took part in the Round Britain Powerboat Race, including among his crew Rally champion Roger Clark. He also appeared in the film Sink the Bismarck in which he flew a Fairey Swordfish. He was also for several years a member of Lasham Gliding Society. His autobiography Faster Than the Sun was published in 1963, and revised in 2005.
His first three marriages ended in divorce, his fourth wife died in 1988. He was survived by his fifth wife. He had a son, three daughters and several stepchildren. He died in August 2011 at the age of 90.
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On this day 26th September 1960-1965
On 26/09/1960 the number one single was Apache - The Shadows and the number one album was Down Drury Lane to Memory Lane - A Hundred and One Strings.The top rated TV show was The Army Game (Granada) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Tottenham Hotspur were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 26/09/1961 the number one single was Reach for the Stars / Climb Ev'ry Mountain - Shirley Bassey and the number one album was The Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 26/09/1962 the number one single was She's Not You - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Best of Ball Barber & Bilk. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Flood kills 333 in Barcelona.
On 26/09/1963 the number one single was She Loves You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 26/09/1964 the number one single was I'm Into Something Good - Herman's Hermits and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 26/09/1965 the number one single was Make It Easy On Yourself - Walker Brothers and the number one album was Help - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.