Captain Joseph Summers
Captain Joseph Summers, CBE (10 March 1904–16 March 1954), was chief test Pilot at Vickers-Armstrong.
Nicknamed “Mutt”, Summers flew many aircraft for their first flights including the Supermarine Spitfire and the Vickers Valliant. In 21 years he clocked up 5,000 hours flying. By 1946 he had flown 310 different aircraft.
On March 5, 1936, he took an unpainted aircraft at Eastleigh airfield for a five minute test run and famously told the crewmen after landing, ‘don’t touch anything’.
The plane wasn’t perfect, by any means, but he wanted it left as it was for further testing.
Many hours later, the plane emerged as the Supermarine Spitfire and became a crucial weapon in the Battle for Britain after going into mass production.
He flew for 5 years at the Royal Aircraft Establishment Martlesham Heath including periods on loan to Blackburn and Avro, before joining Vickers.
Mutt was in the Royal Air Force and knew the later C-in-C of Bomber Command “Bomber” Harris personally . He was the pilot for the first bouncing bomb experiments flying a Vickers Wellington.
He was succeeded by Jeffrey Quill, his assistant who had taken took over single seater prototypes from Mutt during the war.
He died after surgery in 1954.