Born: United Kingdom
Primarily active in: United Kingdom
Wilfred H (Slim) Sear, OBE, AFRAeS was called up to join the Royal Air Force in 1942 and trained in Canada returning to the UK to fly Hurricanes and Spitfires, he was transferred have to the Fleet Air Arm in 1945 flying Hellcats, Seafires and Firefly.
In 1951 he joined number 10 course at the Empire Test Pilots School Farnborough and qualified as a test pilot, subsequently flying Wyvern and Vampire.
He qualified on helicopters at Westland and John Fay (His Instructor) recalls that he converted to rotorcraft quicker than any trainee he had ever encountered. In 1953 he was appointed Chief Test Pilot a position he held until 1967, during this time he led the transition of Westland to become a helicopter company and the development of Sikorsky designs to accept turbine engines.
As Chief Test Pilot he led the flight programme for the Westminster and Slim was a leading figure in the development of the anti-submarine helicopter for the Royal Navy. The ability of the helicopter to use as autopilot to transition to the hover and hold that position over the sonar was pioneering work in the introduction of automatic systems, and resulted in the Whirlwind, Wessex and Sea King helicopters, which have served the Royal Navy well.
He also held responsibility for the integration of the Flight Operations part of the four helicopter companies that would join together following the government led reorganisation of the aircraft industry, and finally retired from flying in 1967, he was awarded the OBE for his services to the defence industry.
After retirement he accepted the position of responsibility for the day today engineering requirements in the flight shed, during which time the Lynx flight and Sea King development programmes were active, retiring from Westland in 1976.
Slim Sear, was an unforgettable personality, his turn of phrase was direct and unmistakable and yet had a sensitive side, for example he grew orchids.
Source: Email correspondence, David Gibbings, Apr 07 2018