Another international honour for Des Barker


Retired SA Air Force (SAAF) major general Des Barker added one more to an already impressive list of achievements when the Herman R Salmon Technical Publications Award was presented to him by the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP).

Barker won the award for “Flight Test Report: Focke Wulf Piaggio P149D-Turbo Prop” published in the SETP quarterly journal Cockpit as 2020’s best technical paper.

The 49-year-old award was renamed in 1981 to honour the memory of test pilot Herman R “Fish” Salmon who died in an aircraft accident. There have been 48 recipients of this award, from 1971 to the present with no award in 1981.

Criteria for the award include originality, interest to SETP members and contribution to flight testing.

SETP is an international organisation that seeks to promote air safety and contributes to aeronautical advancement by promoting sound aeronautical design and development; interchanging ideas, thoughts and suggestions of members, assisting in the professional development of experimental pilots as well as providing scholarships and aid to members and the families of deceased members.

In June last year, Barker became only the second South African to be named an honorary fellow of the prestigious Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS).

The Society is an international, multi-disciplinary professional institution dedicated to the global aerospace community with more than twenty-two thousand members. In the 101 years the Honorary Fellowship title has been awarded since the first in 1917, only 191 Honorary Fellowships have been awarded.

Barker’s citation read: “Major General Barker, experimental test pilot, is admitted to Honorary Fellowship in recognition of the major role he played in establishing and developing a formal flight test capability in the South African Air Force (SAAF) and defence industry. In a flying career spanning more than four decades, Major General Barker also played key roles in a wide range of SAAF flight test programmes.

“He served as Chief Test Pilot (1990-1995) and then Officer Commanding (1996-2000) of the SAAF Test Flight and Development Centre.

“In addition, through his publications and presentations he made a significant contribution to display flying safety internationally.

“Major General Barker qualified as a pilot in 1969, a maintenance test pilot in 1974 and an experimental test pilot in 1984. He is a qualified flying instructor and a display pilot with 7 200 flying hours on 58 different types of aircraft.

“He was appointed Air Attaché to the United Kingdom in 2000 and Base Commander AFB Makhado in 2004. He retired in 2008 as Chief of Air Staff Operations and became the Manager Aeronautics Research at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) from which he retired in 2017”.

Other awards he holds are from the SAAF, the European Airshow Council 2011 Paul Bowen Award, the Jock Maitland Sword of Honour 2018 and The Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Guillaumaud Trophy 2012.

In 2017 Barker joined the CSIR after retiring from the SAAF. He was contract research and development manager at its defence, peace, safety and security (DPSS) division before leaving to, as he told defenceWeb: “play a bit of golf, drink some beer and have no PowerPoint presentations”.

With thanks and appreciation to the SAAF Association.