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Michael John "Mike" Lithgow, OBE (30 August 1920 – 22 October 1963) was a British aviator and chief test pilot for Vickers Supermarine. He became the holder of the World Absolute Air Speed Record in 1953 flying a Supermarine Swift but died when the prototype BAC One-Eleven airliner crashed in 1963.

Early life

Mike Lithgow was born on 30 August 1920 and educated at Cheltenham College.

Second World War

Joined Fleet Air Arm March 1939-December 1945
Lieutenant Commander HMS Ark Royal Flew Swordfish torpedo bombers, was one of the pilots attacking the Bismarck[1]

Test Pilot

World Air Speed Record diploma

He retired from the Navy and moved to Vickers Supermarine as a test pilot in January 1946 and became the company's chief test pilot two years later.

In September 1946 he took part in the Lympne high speed air race, flying a Supermarine Seafang, competing against Bill Humble in a Hawker Fury, Geoffrey de Havilland in a D.H. Vampire and G.H Pike in a D.H Hornet[2]

On 26 September 1953 flying the Supermarine Swift F.4 prototype, WK198, Lithgow broke the World Air Speed Record near Tripoli in Libya, reaching a speed of 735.7 mph (1184 km/h). He was awarded the Geoffrey de Havilland Trophy in 1953[3]

He did extensive test flying on the Supermarine Attacker, Swift, Scimitar and later the Vickers Vanguard and BAC 1-11.[3]

Lithgow died test flying the prototype BAC One-Eleven G-ASHG from Wisley airfield on 22 October 1963 when during stall tests the aircraft entered a deep stall and crashed near Chicklade, Wiltshire. Six other BAC flight test team members were killed too.[3]

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