St Albans test pilot receives honorary doctorship

Capt Desmond Penrose

Capt Desmond Penrose - Credit: Loughborough University

De Havilland test pilot, Captain Desmond Penrose, has been awarded an honorary doctorship at Loughborough University.

Desmond, who lives in St Albans, was awarded Honorary Doctor of Technology in the summer graduation ceremonies in recognition of his significant contributions to aviation safety and his support for the university.

He first took to the skies in 1947 and it was during training that his promise as a pilot was recognised, culminating in his first solo flight on April 14, 1948.

After reading aeronautical engineering at Loughborough College and graduating with honours in 1951, Desmond became the first graduate from Loughborough to receive a Direct Entry Permanent Commission to the Royal Air Force.

He was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Aeronautical Society at the comparatively young age of 39, an honour which is only considered for those who have provided an outstanding contribution to the profession of aeronautics, with positions of high responsibility and extensive high quality experience.


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Desmond has flown over 300 types of aircraft, achieving the 65th anniversary of his first solo flight in a Tiger Moth in April 2013. Now in his eighties, he still maintains a current aerobatic display authorisation and is known for frequently stating that ‘Loughborough made him’.

He was one of seven people to be awarded an honorary degree at the graduation ceremonies.

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