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Jeffrey Quill

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Category: Military
Reference No: 8938
Status: Available
Price: £30.00
  Jeffrey Quill  Jeffrey Quill  Jeffrey Quill

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British airman, remembered as the Chief Test Pilot of the Spitfire.

Quill was educated at Lancing College, near to Shoreham Airport on the Sussex coast, and the constant aerial activity made him determined to become a pilot.

He was accepted into the Royal Air Force at the age of 18 as an Acting Pilot Officer and proved to be exceptionally talented, flying solo after the remarkably short time of 5 hours 20 minutes flying time (9 hours was the norm).

In January 1936 Quill joined Vickers (Aviation) Ltd at Brooklands as assistant to its chief test pilot, Joseph "Mutt" Summers.

His long association with the Spitfire began on the 26th March 1936 when, aged 23, he made his first flight in the prototype K5054 – Mutt Summers having made the maiden flight three weeks earlier – and his priority was to get the Spitfire cleared for acceptance by the RAF. The Spitfire needed a great deal of work before it was deemed safe for young RAF pilots to fly; propellers, rudders, engines and other parts all went through a constant process of improvement, and the fighter did not enter squadron service until July 1938.

Summers made only four flights in the Spitfire, leaving Quill as chief test pilot over the years that followed.

During the Second World War, Quill took the job of Spitfire development very seriously - so seriously that he felt he had to obtain first-hand combat experience. He was temporarily released on 5 August 1940 to join 65 Squadron at RAF Hornchurch, privately hoping that it would be a permanent appointment. On 16 August he shot down a Messerschmitt Bf 109 and two days later he shared a victory over a Heinkel He 111. His combat days were short-lived, however, because he was recalled after just 19 days, but they made Quill all the more determined to make the Spitfire an even better fighting machine.

By the war’s end Quill had test-flown every mark of Spitfire.

In the immediate postwar era, Quill continued as a test pilot, flying the latest Supermarine jets including the Attacker and Swift, and he later became a military aircraft marketing executive for the British Aircraft Corporation.

This listing is of two very fine letters, handwritten in blue fountain pen ink on letterheaded paper (Ty Cerrig, Corwen, Clywyd, North Wales), one dated December 19th 1984, the other January 4th 1985.

Sent to John Carter of the Victory Services Club in London, both relate to an invitation to a lunch for the "48th Pilots course", which he is looking forward to "very much indeed". Quill had been invited to give a short talk after the meal and  he is very happy to "have a go....I have never forgotten the five months I spent flying with the Navy, disguised as an RNVR officer - and although it was such a short spell I have been been inordinately proud of it".

Condition of both letters is very good.