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All Posts, Aviation, Military History

Author guest post: Sarah Chambers

Flight Lieutenant Thomas ‘Tommy’ Rose DFC

Flight Lieutenant Thomas ‘Tommy’ Rose, a First World War fighter ace, was a pioneer of private flying. He installed and managed the UK’s first fuel pump for private aviation at Brooklands before becoming Sales Manager for Phillips and Powis Aircraft Ltd. The chief flying instructor at several early flying schools, Tommy became the Chief Test Pilot for Miles Aircraft and was the winner of air races and pageants. He was undoubtedly a pilot who could always be relied on to amaze the onlookers with his fast, accurate stunts and low-level flying.

Mentioned in Despatches in 1916 and awarded the DFC in 1918, Tommy was attacked in his aircraft several times, yet his astonishing ability at the controls of his aircraft enabled him to land without serious injury. By the time of the Armistice, Tommy had been credited with eleven ‘kills’.

He continued to demonstrate these skills after the war and though this true trailblazer was widely known in his glory days during the early part of the twentieth century, little is remembered about him today. Yet Tommy Rose achieved the most incredible feats of aviation and was considered one of the finest pilots of his era, completing over 11,200 flying hours up to 1949.

In the 1930s, Tommy took the Imperial Airways route through East Africa, to set up a new world record on the UK to Cape Town passage, beating Amy Mollison (Johnson) who took the shorter course down the west coast. He also won the King’s Cup Air Race in 1935.

Tommy flew many of the early RAF fighters from Maurice Farman to the Spitfire Mk.IX, and, from late 1939, when he was appointed Chief Test Pilot for Phillip & Powis Aircraft Ltd at Woodley (forerunners of Miles Aircraft Ltd), he test flew all Miles monoplane training and target towing aircraft, leaving in January 1946. His last position was as General Manager of Universal Flying Services Ltd at Fairoaks Aerodrome in Surrey.

The result of decades of research by the author, through this book the life and adventures of one of history’s most accomplished and daring aviators can finally be told.

Winner of the 1935 Kings Cup Air Race 1935 Miles M.3B Falcon Six G-ADLC
Tommy talking to his ground staff getting ready for the Schlesinger Race in front of his entry the BA Double Eagle with 2 Gipsy 6 engines G-AEIN, called ‘The Perfect Lady’ at Portsmouth on 28 September


The 1935 Kings Cup
Tommy Rose receiving the Kings Cup in 1935

Tommy Rose at 50


Flight Lieutenant Thomas ‘Tommy’ Rose DFC is available to order here.