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S/Ldr Samuel Eric Esler DFC 1918-1949

06/06/2011 8:23 AM

Valuation days are welcome events for Culvertons staff, allowing them to meet members of the public who often are carrying an incredible array of interesting objects, fine art and antiques but occassionally there is also a rare opportunity to meet  descendants of colourful, historic and heroic figures from the past who are willing to relay a wealth of family history. Save the Childrens valuation day recently was one such occassion, where we were priviledged to hear about the life of Samuel Eric Esler DFC and the courageous part he played in World War II and aviation history and lucky eneough to view his personal flying log book and medals.

The following obbituary was printed in Flight magazine in 1949 

A SEVERE blow was sustained by British aviation in the accident to the Avro 707 delta-wing research aircraft on September 30th and the resulting death of Avro s deputy chief test pilot, Mr. Samuel Eric Esler.Esler, who was 31, leaves a widow. He joined A. V. Roeand Co., Ltd., in June, 1948, and was responsible for a great deal of flying on Tudor aircraft; especially notable was hisclimb to 40,000ft in 47 min. in the jet-propelled Tudor 8. Inthe absence in Canada of Avro s chief test pilot, Mr. J. H.Orrell, Esler was made responsible for all flying on the Type707.A Belfast man, Esler was educated at Skegoniel School and Belfast College of Technology. Before the war he was a car salesman in Belfast and a sergeant in the R.A.F.V.R. Commissioned in May, 1942, he served in No. 120 Squadron, Coastal Command, and was awarded the D.F.C. on December 4th, 1942, the citation recording that he had damaged two enemy submarines and that on three occasions he had taken part in operational sorties necessitating almost continuous blind flying owing to extremely bad weather. The Avro 707—a vital link in the chain of British aeronautical research—began its taxying trials at Boscombe Downon September 3rd, and during one of these tests made a short hop a few feet above the ground. The first flight was delayed by an unfavourable wind until the following evening, when Esler was airborne for twenty minutes. On September 6th the 707 arrived at Farnborough for static exhibition at the S.B.A.C. Display and at the time of the accident it was on a flight from the Royal Aircraft Establishment. The crash— the cause of which is not known—occurred near Blackbushe and the aircraft is understood to have been almost totally destroyed by fire.Avro research with delta-wing aircraft will continue.

 S/Ldr Samuel Eric Esler was a worthy recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Flying Medal awarded for acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy.

Many thanks to the descendants for taking the time to share his amazing story and life with us.