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Peter Twiss (left) is congratulated by plane designer Robert Lickley after the flight
Fairey Delta II
Peter Twiss

On this day 10 March 1956

Published: 10 Mar 2013

On 10 March 1956 Peter Twiss became the first person in the world to exceed 1000mph in level flight, when he piloted the Fairey Delta II aircraft to 1132 mph. He flew the Fairey Delta II aircraft between two timing points on the south coast near Chichester. It took six attempts to break the record which held for over a year. Click here for Pathe News report.

The Fairey Delta II (of which only two were ever built) was used as the basis for Fairey's submissions to the MOD for advanced all weather interceptor designs leading to the Fairey Delta 3 but it never got past the drawing board stage. In 1960, the aircraft was rebuilt by British Aircraft Corporation (BAC), who had absorbed Fairey, as the ogee-ogive wing form aircraft BAC 221 for aerodynamic research as part of the Concorde development programme. Like Concorde, the Fairey Delta II had a nose-cone which could be lowered.

During WW2 Twiss flew numerous operations eventually winning a DSC in June 1942 for his work on the Malta Convoys flying Fairey Fulmars with 807 Squadron. Lt Cdr Twiss developed night fighter tactics, flying from Ford in West Sussex, before becoming a test pilot.

He appeared in the James Bond film, From Russia With Love, piloting a speed boat, and in Sink the Bismarck! in which he flew a Fairey Swordfish. He died 31 August 2011 aged 90.


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