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Major Frank W. Gooden

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Category: Military
Reference No: 6802
Status: Available
Price: £125.00
  Major Frank W. Gooden

click on the small image to see a larger version


British early airman and test pilot who made a significant contribution to aircraft design at the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough

Gooden started his aviation career in balloons and airships and had taken part in the Hendon flying displays. He passed his airmanship tests in a Caudron biplane on June 1, 1913 at the Ewen School, Hendon and in the spring of 1914 joined the Farnborough Team of test pilots, having taken his brevet (a warrant authorising a commissioned officer to hold a higher rank temporarily) in only the previous summer - a testament to his exceptional natural skills and the rate of expansion of aviation at the time.

Gooden flew many of the first flights of the Factory prototypes, many of which were underpowered, sluggish and prone to “spin”. However, in mid-1915 the Factory unveiled the SE5, which was to have a significant effect on the war for the Royal Flying Corps. This was designed by H.P.Folland, with Gooden contributing advice from the pilot’s viewpoint.

The SE5 used the Hispano-Suiza V-8 200hp engine which had been recognized as a significant advance in engine design. Three prototype SE5s were built, the first - 4561 - being completed by November 1916.

Gooden took it up for its first 10-minute flight at about 10 am on the 22nd November 1916 and was enthusiastic about its capability. The second prototype, A4562, was flown by Gooden on the 4th December, followed by the third prototype on the 12th January 1917.

On the 28th January, Gooden took-off on a routine test flight in the second prototype. About 10 minutes into the flight the port wing cellule collapsed at around 1000 ft and Gooden was killed in the ensuing crash. He was just 26 years old and, as a Royal Aircraft Factory test pilot since 1914, had made the first flights of at least six new Factory designs.

This is a very fine vintage sepia photograph (5.5" x 3.25"), nicely signed and dated (9.5.14) across the image in blue fountain pen ink. The ghost of a very light, partial, vertical crease, and some pencilled press photography markings to the reverse but otherwise in very good condition. VERY RARE.