André Turcat, French aviator, Died at 94


Major André Édouard Turcat was born on October 23, 1921, and died on January 4, 2016.

He was a French test pilot.

Andre is a graduate of France’s École Polytechnique.

He then joined the Free French air force during the final years of World War II and stayed with Armée de l’Air after the war.

At the time of the Indochina War, he served as a pilot of C-47 transport aircraft and demonstrated exceptional skills in handling a number of flight emergencies, thus earning an assignment to EPNER, France’s test pilot school.

After he graduated, he took over the test campaign of the Nord 1500 Griffon, one of the world’s first ramjet-powered aircraft.

At this time, Mr. Turcat flew the Griffon at Mach 2.19, a feat that earned him the prestigious Harmon Trophy in 1958.

In early 1959, Andre broke the world speed record over 100 kilometers with the Griffon, at an average 1,643 km/h (1,021 mph).

He then left the military after the Griffon program ended and joined state-owned aircraft manufacturer Sud Aviation as the Concorde supersonic transport (SST) program was starting.

The Major became Concorde’s chief test pilot and Sud Aviation’s director of flight testing.

On 2 March 1969, Turcat had the honor of flying the first prototype of Concorde for its maiden flight.

Later that year (1 October), he was also at the controls for Concorde’s first supersonic flight.

The major conducted the rest of the French side of the Concorde test program (Brian Trubshaw being the chief test pilot on the British side) and retired from active flying duty in the late 1970s.

Himself and Trubshaw was both awarded the Ivan C. Kincheloe Award for their work on the Concorde test program.

André Turcat was the founder and the first president for Académie nationale de l’air et de l’espace (ANAE) in 1983.

The facility is known as Académie de l’Air et de l’Espace since 2007.

André Turcat was present on board the Air France Concorde (F-BVFC) during its retirement flight, on the 27th June 2003, to the Airbus plant at Toulouse, where the French aircraft was built.

André Turcat was an author and wrote a few books.

Along with the latest Concorde essais et batailles (1977) and Pilote d’essais: Mémoires (2005), both in French.

André Turcat passed away at 95 yrs old.