Oral history of British science

Wheeler, Ray (Part 11 of 13). An Oral History of British Science.

  • Add a note
    Log in to add a note at the bottom of this page.
  • All notes
  • My notes
  • Hide notes
Please click to leave a note

The British Library Board acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this recording and the rights of those not identified.
Legal and ethical usage »

Tags (top 25):
(No tags found for this item)
  • Type

    sound

  • Duration

    00:53:25

  • Shelf mark

    C1379/35

  • Subjects

    Aeronautical Engineering; Space Science and Engineering

  • Recording date

    2010-10-21

  • Recording locations

    Interviewees home, Isle of Wight.

  • Interviewees

    Wheeler, Ray, 1927- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 11: Description of Black Arrow rocket: rocket nozzle arrangement, fuel tanks, launch and flight, vibration and temperature environment. [05:50] Remarks on: making rocket reliable through testing; [remarks on photo of Black Arrow]; anecdote about a telex from Australia connected with a failed test. [09:10] Comments on development of Black Arrow: rocket engine developed elsewhere, such as Westcott; importance of reliability; specialist facilities for building rocket; development of Black Arrow compared to Black Knight and hovercraft; insecurity of Black Arrow funding arrangements; RW surprise at Black Arrow cancellation; potential for Black Arrow as a profitable satellite launcher; Kenneth Clarke; RW relations with politicians. [16:20] Remarks on good relationship with RAE, example of meeting over cost of packaging to send rocket to Australia. [19:40] Remarks on: some staff becoming patriotic, RW just wanting Black Arrow to work; good relationship between all engineers. [20:57] Remarks about aborted Phoenix unmanned helicopter development RW worked on at request of Basil Blackwell. [26:05] Remarks on RW Black Arrow roll as chief designer: subordinate managers Cliff Maidment, Jack Redpath; scaling up of Black Knight to Black Arrow; Black Knight control system electronics use on SRN4; anecdote about reliability of SRN4 control electronics in Hoverlloyd service; meetings with government officials; expectations of successful future of Black Arrow; later ESA financial and work share arrangements. [31:30] Stories about: finding out about success of Black Arrow after telex from Jack Redpath in Australia; staff being laid off after Black Arrow cancellation; possibilities for Black Arrow upgrade; cost efficiency of Black Arrow; reasons for Black Arrow cancellation; comparative success of Ariane 5 rocket. [37:30][pause] Comments on: RW appointment as Technical director after Dick Stanton Jones, also retaining chief designer role; details of Technical Director role; [40:20] patenting of work, RW patents on durable hovercraft skirts, with description of skirt testing. [42:40] Remarks on advances in hovercraft technology: automatic welding of marine aluminium alloys and consequent structural changes to hovercraft, RW not being awarded patent for work. [45:00] Remarks on: patenting and arrangements for patent licensing; licensing arrangements with Bell; work after cancellation of Black Arrow, such as helicopters, work with Bombardier, Christopher Cockerell. [48:45] Remarks on: Chief Technical Director and Chief Designer activity, mainly dealing with people and little technical work; impact of computerisation, networking to Yeovil computer, changes to drawing.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Aeronautical Engineer Ray Wheeler.

  • Related transcripts

    Ray Wheeler interviewed by Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Metadata record:

    View full metadata for this item

Wheeler, Ray (Part 11 of 13). An Oral History of British Science.

Please log in to update your playlists.

Can you tell us more about the context of the recording? Or can you share information on its content - timings of key sections or important details? Please add your notes. Uninformative entries may not be retained.

Please log in to leave notes.