Keepsake From Air Speed Record Comes Home To Land

Mike Clarke with the Fairey Delta FD2 at the Fleet Air Arm Museum

Lt Cdr Lionel Peter Twiss, OBE, DSC., was one of Britain’s notable post war test pilots and the first man to fly faster than 1000mph.  He died in August 2011 aged 90 yrs.  During his prolific career, Peter smashed the record, in the Fairey Delta FD2, a supersonic research aircraft. The record was previously set by the US Air Force and back in 1956, this was an amazing achievement of the era.  Peter, a Fleet Air Arm pilot who carried out his operational training at RNAS Yeovilton, was skilfully assisted in this world record attempt by his experienced ground crew and technical team including dedicated Instrumentation Engineer Mike Carter.


To commemorate the record being set, Peter commissioned four matching ashtrays as a token of appreciation for his most loyal comrades who helped to make this mission possible.


Realising that the Fleet Air Arm Museum had a Fairey Delta FD2  in situ as part of the museum collection and film extract of the record flight attempt, Mike decided this would be a good resting place for his commemorative piece, given to him personally by Peter Twiss as a token of appreciation.


Mike who lives in close proximity to RNAS Yeovilton, visited the museum with son Paul who is based in Sydney, and was in the UK spending time with his father following the recent loss of his mother and Mike’s wife. Before returning to Australia, Mike and Paul had the opportunity to present the piece to the Fleet Air Arm Museum to accompany the existing collection.


Mike commented “Whilst to many this maybe just an old fashioned ashtray or object, it serves as a reminder of  that unique achievement in 1956 whereby Peter became the first pilot to  smash the 1000 mile per hour air speed record and I am sure would make more sense to go on show as an artefact to commemorate this event.  I can remember the day well and the thrill the whole team experienced”


Nicky Dowding, representing the Fleet Air Arm Museum thanked Mike and Paul Carter for their donation to the collection and ensured them it would take pride of place with other memorabilia in the Peter Twiss Display Cabinet.

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