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Classic Wings Magazine WWII Naval Aviation Research Pacific Luftwaffe Resource Center
When Hollywood Ruled The Skies - Volumes 1 through 4 by Bruce Oriss


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 02, 2016 9:23 am 
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Edward Strongman – from air force to Airbus

With a flight-test career which ran through five decades, Edward Strongman – known to all as Ed – amassed more than 11,000h at the controls of multiple aircraft types for the Royal Air Force, Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE), UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Airbus.

Born in Cornwall in 1949, Strongman completed an engineering degree at the University of Bristol before beginning his career in aviation with the RAF. After completing his flying training, he spent five years as an operational pilot, including on the service’s newly-introduced Lockheed Martin C-130 tactical transport.

In 1979, he underwent test pilot training at the US Air Force’s Edwards AFB in California. On returning to the UK, he flew multiple transports, fighters and helicopters at RAE Bedford, where he worked until 1986.

After a post-military stint working as a certification pilot for the CAA, Strongman seized the opportunity to move to Airbus. He joined the European manufacturer’s flight-test team in 1995, initially as a project pilot on the A330 and A340 programmes. In April 2001, with Capt Claude Lelaie, he piloted the first A340-600, which at the time was the longest commercial aircraft in the world. He was also subsequently involved in the flight-test development campaign for its A380: the biggest.

But with his past experience as a Hercules pilot, it was little surprise that the former RAF officer would become involved in the poster project of the company’s Airbus Defence & Space unit: the A400M. Working as chief test pilot, military; Strongman threw himself into the activity, and on 11 December 2009 was at the controls as the first flight test example took to the air from the company’s Seville final assembly facility in Spain.

Following the 3h 45min flight, he hailed the A400M for its military handling, which he commented was “far more agile and manoeuvrable than a civil aeroplane”.

Shortly after, Strongman was instrumental in crafting the A400M’s spectacular aerobatic display sequences, which began with an appearance at the ILA Berlin air show in May 2010. This included the type’s now signature manoeuvre: a 120˚ overbank at the top of a steep climb.

In March 2013, Flight International test pilot Michael Gerzanics was given the opportunity to put development aircraft “Grizzly 5” through its paces. He conducted the flight from Toulouse alongside Strongman – who had first provided instruction and accompanied him during a pre-flight simulator session. His passion for the European airlifter and professionalism as a flight-tester was evident throughout the experience, and during the 1h 40min flight he delighted in letting Gerzanics assess the type throughout its test envelope; including controlling a 105˚ overbank performed at medium altitude.

Strongman retired from Airbus late in 2014 due to ill health, with a career of more than 7,000 flight-test hours to his name, and shortly after completing a key role in one of the A400M’s most dramatic acts to date. This involved him working as project pilot during the shooting of the Hollywood blockbuster Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, during which Tom Cruise takes a ride on an A400M – from the outside. As with the UK pilot’s previous flying displays with the “Atlas”, the results were breathtaking.

After losing his battle with cancer, a fitting tribute was paid by Airbus Group chief executive Tom Enders. “Very sad to hear of Ed Strongman’s passing,” the former paratrooper wrote on Twitter. “Never forget my first A400M ride with him, and 110° bank. Rest in peace, Ed.”

Edward “Ed” Strongman.

1949 – 27 March 2016

Posted:
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... bu-423776/


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