Geoffrey Higges flying career 1949 to 1963

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A book by Geoffrey Higges

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I had lost control in cloud at 20,000 feet, and after trying many times to recover, I was already at 10,000 feet still plummeting rapidly downwards at 0.8 Mach Number.

It was time to bale out – very risky -  one last effort to recover !

To stop the spiralling to the left I rammed my right foot on the rudder; and needing all my strength with both hands, I pushed the control column to the right. At last the turning stopped, but I was still diving straight down (and still in cloud). So again with both hands on the control column I pulled back with all my might to try and stop the dive.

Imagine the relief when eventually the instruments showed that I was losing speed and actually climbing back through 9,000 feet.

And so I was finally able to recover, without having to bale out, and without making a big hole in the ground.

I have never forgotten this experience, but only after reading of many similar incidents in the book “Broken Wings” by James J. Halley M.B.E., was I  prompted, 50 years later, to write about this and other experiences of mine on the Gloster Meteor.

The book "Accidents Would Happen" describes several other experiences which are related to the accident record of the Gloster Meteor.

For example, Halley records that in 1952 a Meteor was written off every 2 days on average, and a Meteor pilot killed every 4 days, over 25% of these deaths being caused by a Meteor diving into the ground.

In fact during my career flying Meteors between May 1951 and March 1957, according to the official record, over 50 Meteor pilots were killed by an
dive into the ground out of cloud”.