ADA-Arrow Pilots:Peter Cope
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Arrow Pilots:Peter Cope
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WHITCOMB | PALMIRO
CAMPAGNA |
Peter
Cope
pg2
Peter
looking the part in the Gloster Meteor, then
the hottest jet fighter and holder of the world
absolute speed record.  Cope’s
efforts supported international sales that made
the Meteor the top-selling fighter between 1945
and ’50, in the process making Hawker Siddeley
a leader in jet technology. 
              This
technology, along with Peter Cope, would be exported
by Hawker Siddeley to Canada through A.V. Roe
Canada Ltd.   Hawker Siddeley directors,
led by Sir Roy Dobson of Avro, had high hopes
of becoming a major competitor in the North American
market through Avro
Canada
.Following the end of his three year
RAF testing commitment, in 1949 he resigned from
the RAF and took a job as a test pilot at Armstrong
Whitworth aircraft.  Armstrong Whitworth
was a component, as would be Avro
Canada
, of the Hawker Siddeley Group, which included
Avro in
Britain
, the already legendary Hawker Aircraft,
and Gloster, who produced the Meteor jet fighter—the
only allied jet to see combat duty in WW II.  There
he resumed test flying on the
Lincoln bomber and Meteor fighter, which Armstrong Whitworth facilities  helped produce
for their designers and co-builders; Avro and
Gloster respectively. While
with Sir W.G. Armstrong Whitworth Company, he
flew the Gloster Meteor Mk.8 and (once they became
available) the Mk.11 night fighter extensively
during their development and production. During
his time in
Britain
, Cope flew 103 aircraft
types.  He was inducted into the Guild of
Air Pilots and Air Navigators of the
British Empire on February 2, 1950.
During this time considers
it his good fortune to have done some chauffer
flying for Fred Smye when he visited Hawker Siddeley
from
Canada
.  He made the most of the opportunity
to mention to Smye that he would be interested
in flying
Canada
’s new CF-100
jet fighter, if and when the need for more pilots
emerged. Fred Smye was the youthful Canadian entrepreneur-turned-industrialist,
who, after rising to be the number two man in the
aircraft production division of federal minister
C.D. Howe’s Department of Munitions and Supply,
had been appointed to run Hawker Siddeley’s
new operations in Canada.  For various reasons
things had not worked out in Canada with the first
test pilot chosen for the new company’s new
jet fighter by Sir Roy Dobson (a leading Hawker
Siddeley executive and head of Avro Aircraft in
Britain). Smye was in a particularly bad situation
since the test pilot that the Royal Canadian Air
Force had loaned Avro Canada as a temporary replacement
for Bill Waterton, Bruce Warren, and his observer
were killed in the crash of the second of the two
XC-100 prototypes. Following
Warren’s death Smye sent Cope a cable which read “fly over immediately
all expenses paid terms discussed on arrival”.  Cope
complied in May of 1951 and viewed his entrée into
Canadian aviation with glee, despite the tragic
circumstances that had led up to it.
He made his first flight
in an Avro CF-100 on May 7th 1951 and
due to his experience from WW II became the unofficial
armament development pilot for the CF-100 programme.  When
one is modestly aware of the scientific challenges
of attempting to produce the most technologically
advanced long range, all weather, day or night
jet fighter, and it’s new
jet technology powerplant, one can see that
Avro needed some real competence post-haste.  For
Peter it meant a risky business, as pilot safety
developing new weapons in a new airframe with a
new engine, cannot be anything but reduced.  Under
Don Rogers, Avro
Canada
’s chief test pilot, Cope was initially
very disappointed with the performance of the CF-100
prototype and Mk.2 aircraft, as many, many component
and production problems were worked out.  A
critical one involved fuel control for the new
Orenda turbojet, a crucial area that was plaguing
similar high-thrust turbojet developments world-wide.  Orenda
achieved for
Canada
something of a breakthrough in turbojet
fuel systems and combustion design, with the engine
being noted for high-thrust, easy handling, near
smokeless operation and exceptional reliability.  After
some familiarization flights in the first prototype
XC-100 as it was turned into the Mk.2 by replacement
of the British Avon engines in favour of the Canadian
TR.5 Orenda, and a structural upgrade in the spar/engine
nacelle joint.  Cope composed a list of 19 “fixes” which
he insisted had to be addressed before the CF-100
could be considered a reasonable operational fighter. 
Zura, in the CF-100 Mk.4
prototype, and Cope arrive line
abreast at the top of a loop.
           To
assist the development the Canadian aero-medical
Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental
Medicine (DCIEM), which still serves Canada’s
exacting needs on pilot flight physiology,
was founded.  Through these and other
specialties Canada developed, and has maintained,
world class status in various aspects of
human physiology under sustained positive
and negative pressure conditions and other
factors related to flight and underwater
conditions.  Cope and the other test
pilots were involved, essentially at the
ground level, in developing
Canada
’s expertise
in ejection, pressurization, oxygen, and
other safety-systems, with much of the knowledge
acquired, sometimes the hard way, during
the often frustrating development of the
CF-100.
Cope
launches in FB-H,  the original XC-100 (modified into the Mk.3 development
aircraft) under JATO boost.
             Of his flying career,
Peter considers his first flight in the Arrow
to have been the most exciting of his career.  He
says the second most exciting was the occasion
of the gun gas explosion while testing the
cannon installation in the CF-100. He describes
the most spectacular flight of his
career as having been in the JATO-assisted
take-offs of CF-100 FB-H with the increase
in climb and acceleration, of an aircraft
already noted for good take-off performance,
being simply astounding.  Vern Morse,
one of Avro’s “Jetographers”,
won an award from an association of photographers
for his the photo of Cope’s first take-off
under JATO assist.  Like Zurakowski,
he also took the CF-100 supersonic in the
dive.  The CF-100 gained the distinction
of being the first straight-winged aircraft
to break the sound barrier.  Along with
its originator, Cope and was involved in
experiments to try to duplicate the “Zurabatic
Cartwheel” that fellow Avro test pilot
Janusz Zurakowski had invented (while with
Glosters in England) with the Meteor ground
attack aircraft.  They were not successful
due to the engines being close to the aircraft
centreline on the CF-100 and thus not allowing
sufficient asymmetric thrust to achieve the
yaw rate required.  Nevertheless, Cope, ‘Zura’,
Rogers and other Avro test pilots introducing
millions of Canadians to jet aviation with
dazzling, and often imprompu, air displays,
especially in the
Toronto
area.
Copyright 2005, Randall Whitcomb.
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