Oral history of British science

Higton, Dennis (Part 16 of 24). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Subjects

    Aeronautical Engineering

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee’s home, Shrewton, Salisbury

  • Interviewees

    Higton, Dennis, 1921-2012 (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 16: Remarks on: preparing to leave to America, death of father, sea voyage to New York; first days in America with family; transfer to Washington, unappealing letter from new superior; anecdote about friend Tom Frost from RR inviting him to a test pilots conference in Los Angeles. [05:06] Story about first meeting boss Dr Littler at Embassy Party and subsequently organising boffin George Lebrojec's funeral. [08:15] Remarks on job in Washington: difficult start, staff unhappy with manager; finding a house with help of Tom Frost; story about difficulty finding son Peter a school, Peter winning over school at Christmas play; details of work of British Joint Service Exchange; small team under DH as Head of Aircraft Defence R and D; [14:00] details of DH post managing team of specialists who liaised with American organisations; potential for misunderstandings talking with Americans; examples of cooperation between British and Americans; [18:45] Farnborough's development of Carbon Fibre and rumours that materials representative George Bush was possibly too helpful to Americans; [22:10] circumstances of DH's predecessor being replaced due to social failings; [Closed between 23:50 - 26:15 until 2032] [27:55] advantages of having a secretary; duties of staff visiting firms across US; assisting with British bought US aircraft, such as Chinook and Phantom; daily duties of meetings, such as in Pentagon; [30:55] story about social invitation to go fishing in Chesapeake Bay with Bell helicopter company; heavy social load of embassy work, such as parties with Prime Minister Wilson, hosting social events; [37:00] story about party for [US] aircraft carrier captain who DH knew from Buccaneer trials; importance of parties as part of Embassy life and growing Anglo-American relations; anecdote about DH playing Embassy's Father Christmas; DH previous experience making him feel at home. [40:35] Remarks on: involvement with British purchase of American aircraft, not formally part of role, but helped if questions needed answering, example of Chinook negotiations involving Tony Bastick; description of DH's typical daily activities; [44:20] coping with distance from home, staff supporting each other; importance of parties in meeting people in different disciplines; daughter Priscilla staying in Gadolphin boarding school in UK; wife Joy's feelings about life in the USA, initially reluctant, but understanding that DH had to move for career and supportive; anecdotes about Joy always walking to shops in USA and picking up their new car from Baltimore; Joy's help in organising parties at short notice.

  • Description

    Interview with aeronautical engineer Dennis Higton.

  • Related transcripts

    Dennis Higton interviewed by Dr Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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