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AVROLAND's Logo  Mike Cooper-Slipper

THOMAS PAUL MICHAEL COOPER-SLIPPER D.F .C. Passed away peacefully at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria, B.C. in the early hours of Monday, February 23, 2004. With him and comforting him at his bedside were his beloved wife Rita and his adoring grand daughter Jessica and her companion Justin. Thomas Paul Michael (Mike) Cooper-Slipper was born in the West Midlands village of Kinver, Staffordshire, the first of three children to Thomas and Catherine on January 11, 1921. Following completion of Grammar School, Mike pursued his passion for flight and joined the Royal Air Force in 1938. Until his release from the R.A.F . in 1946 with the rank of Squadron Leader, Mike served in three theatres of combat. The United Kingdom, Singapore and North Africa and distinguished himself as a fighter pilot, an instructor pilot and a test pilot. In 1940, a young Mike was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for valor during the Battle of Britain. At just 19 years of age he was one of the youngest ever of Winston Churchill's 'Famous Few' to be awarded the D.F.C. In 1947, Mike immigrated to Canada and joined AVRO Canada at Malton, Ontario as an engine fitter. Not long after, Mike became the first post war test pilot hired by AVRO's fledgling Flight Test Department. Mike was assigned flight test duties on the Lancaster Jet Engine test bed, the CF-102 AVRO Jetliner, the AVRO CF-100 all weather fighter and the Orenda powered Canadair F-86 Sabre. During this period Mike developed an expertise in aircraft engine development and when AVRO's Gas Turbine Division was spun off to form Orenda Engines, Mike became Orenda's Chief Test and Development Pilot in 1955. During production and development of the CF-105 AVRO Arrow, Mike's role was to flight test the Orenda Iroquois engine designed for eventual use in the Arrow. He did this along with his crew in a specially modified B-47 on loan to the R.C.A.F. and AVRO from the U.S. Air Force. Since the Arrow program was cancelled before the Iroquois could be fitted in the 6th production Arrow, Mike had the distinction of being the only test pilot to test the Iroquois engine in flight. Following the Arrow cancellation in 1959, Mike embarked on another career in aviation, this time in Aircraft Sales. Through 1972, Mike worked for a number of firms specializing in aircraft sales and technical marketing including de Havilland and Field Aviation. In 1972 Mike joined the Ontario Ministry of Industry and Trade as an International Industrial Development Officer. He remained in the Civil Service until his retirement in 1986 and traveled extensively promoting Ontario's aviation manufacturing capabilities and was instrumental in creating the Ontario Aviation Consortium. Mike and Rita then retired to Victoria, B.C. where he spent 18 wonderful years pursuing his passionate love of cameras and photography, his interest in aviation history and 'tinkering' with his prized vintage Alfa Romeo. In 2003, in recognition of a life's contribution to aviation, Mike was inducted into Canada's Aviation Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Halifax, N.S. commemorating the Centenary of Powered Flight. Mike is survived by his beloved wife Rita of 63 years of Victoria, his devoted and proud son Chris and daughter in law Pat of Toronto, his only and cherished grand daughter Jessica of Toronto, his sister Mary of Wales and countless friends and admirers around the world. A service in commemoration of Mike's life will be held on Tuesday, March 2, 2004 at 2 p.m. at First Memorial Chapel, 4725 Falaise Dr., Victoria, B.C. The family wishes to express their sincere gratitude to Dr. Walter Chow, The Reverend John Macquarrie and the very caring staff of 2 West, Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria. If so desired, a memorial tribute in Mike Cooper-Slipper's name may be made to The British Columbia Aviation Museum Society, 1910 Norseman Rd., Sidney, B.C., V8L 5V5.

I have asked Bryan Knight a former co-worker of Mikes to share some memories with us:


At CFE I spent a fair amount of time during work with
Mike. He was our regular hack test pilot, and I flew
quite a lot of the engine and ancillary system test
flights with him during some of our routine
development programmes ... mostly on Mosquitos ... he
and I both survived a crash or two. Mike had a thing
about never flying on Saturdays .... He much preferred
to be heading for London and the bright lights I
guess. So, if scheduled for a Saturday test, he
would always arrive early, get in whatever the plane
happened to be, and then decline to fly on the grounds
that the engine(s) had excessive mag drop on run-up.
(He later told me that he would momentarily blip the
second mag switch while testing the "first").

Later, at Avro Canada, I found myself doing the CF-100
weight and balance test set-ups for Mike when we were
both on the production night shift ... and under the
'old pals league' rules made quite a few unofficial
flights with him in the other seat.

Read The Modest Hero by Don Kerley