Dave Clarke

Here is a bit of info on me since my WT days . . .

I left Wind Tunnel Department to join Aerodynamics, Tornado derivatives.  I then got sucked into Dave Gardner's Tornado Development team.  This was moved lock, stock and barrel into Flight Test department in '79.  In 1982, I was walking to the canteen one lunch time when I became conscious of someone walking beside me, and those famous nasal tones of WDH* said, "Has Mr Henney talked to you about moving back to Aerodynamics?"  I said surprisedly, "No".  To which the reply was "Ah".  End of conversation.

I went for lunch and thought no more about it.  At about 2:30 in the afternoon, I was summoned to Mr Henney's office and he announced, "Apparently you are needed back in Aerodynamics, how soon can you clear your desk?"  I could just guess the conversation that had taken place in the Directors' Mess.  The upshot was that one week later I was back in Aero being interviewed by Sandy Burns and, shortly afterwards, joined Dave Shaw on the EAP definition team.  And that is another story in itself.

After EAP aero, I was on the point of joining the EAP Chief Engineers' team under John Lowery in 2 Hangar.  In fact, I had arrived on a Monday morning to lay claim to a desk in 2 Hangar, when the phone rang and Trevor Saunders (who was then Chief Aerodynamicist) invited me back to his office to discuss another job!  John Lowery was suitably unimpressed, but as it later turned out knew what was happening.  I went to see Trevor and was offered the job as BAe's Aero man in the four Nation Definition Team for Eurofighter in Munich.  I played hard to get and succeeded in getting a grade 9 promotion out of it.

I joined the team in Munich in November '85 (this team also included Graham Chisnall - and that's another story!).  I stayed with the Eurofighter team, eventually transferring to the Chief Engineer's staff until 1992, when an early retirement bid failed, scuppered by Dave Gardner himself.  That led me to move to Customer Support Engineering to re-join John Lowery, who was CS Engineering Director.  I was put in charge of the In Service engineering team for Tornado - talk about past sins finding you out!  Eventually, as a result of staff cuts and multi role jobs, I was running the whole department of about 70 people.

Then a bolt hole appeared.  Two job descriptions/person specifications were circulated from the CS Development unit.  These papers were seeking a T5 and T6 staff member to join a collaborative joint venture with Dassault Aviation.  Five technical teams were to be established, two based at Warton and three based at Dassault's base in St Cloud on the outskirts of Paris.  The Customer Support team was to be located in Paris to study the concept of Integrated Logistic Support, in its purest form.  That meant how to design an aeroplane to minimise the cost of ownership to the Customer.  When I looked at the T5 requirements, they were almost a mirror image of my CV.  I tackled the recruiter and pointed out that the French, like the Germans, were suckers for a bit of prestige and experience, and therefore T5 was not appropriate, but x4 would be and I knew someone who fitted the bill perfectly!  I won the argument and went to France for almost three years, the expected length of the contract, oh and by the way I would be over 60 then and early retirement would be appropriate.

After many convolutions and a rearguard action to keep me by the Dassault Director in charge I retired on 31st March 1999, as many of you will remember.  The French interlude was a great experience and both my wife and myself made some good friends there.  In the early 90's, I had acquired (by chance) a classic French sports car, a 1965 saloon Renault R8 Gordini, the car which established Renault as world rally championship winners and led to their future sporting successes.  In 1998, whilst we were in France, Renault celebrated their centenary.  I came back home to collect the car and we took part in several of the centenary events, starting with the Renault Owners Club weekend spectacular in May of that year.  That was a great public relations move for us and the car soon became known around the Paris area.  It also led to us being invited to compete in an annual classic Car Rally, which we have done each year starting in 1999.  Last year we were the highest placed British crew, 11th overall, out of 115 starters.  Watch this space!

* the much-admired Don Horsfield

David Clarke
March 2002

 post script added January 2012:

I have decided to get married for the second time!  My eldest lad, on being given the news, retorted ”Bloody hell Dad, I should have thought that you would have had enough the first time round.”

Anyway, I have been seeing a lady (Marlene) of about my age since the winter of 2009 and in November last year I popped the question and received an enthusiastic “Yes” in reply.  We got engaged on November 5th.  The plan is to marry when we have found a suitable house in Middleton, a suburb of Rochdale.  The cost of living there is much lower than in Frodsham.

There was a famous architect born in Middleton in 1860, Called Edgar Wood.  Apart from many public buildings in the Greater Manchester area that are Wood’s designs, he built quite a few domestic houses in Middleton, starting with a new house for his parents.  We have our eye on one of these houses, designed in the Art Deco style, all with signature bay window designs (very easy to recognise).  As soon as it comes to market there will be another announcement.

David Clarke
25 January 2012