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Obituary to A.V.M David McKinley CBE, CB, AFC and Bar, DFC, MID

Obituary to A.V.M David McKinley CBE, CB, AFC and Bar, DFC, MID
Author: Chris_Pointon
Time Stamp:
22:23:42 Tuesday, February 5, 2002
A.V.M David Mckinley has died aged 88. He enlisted into the RAF in 1935 and after pilot training in late 1938 he joined 228 Sqdn flying Sunderlands from Pembroke Dock. Posted to Alexandria the Sqdn returned to Pembroke at the outbreak of war for convoy and anti submarine patrols. After a short spell with 210 Sqdn he joined the North Atlantic Ferry organisation ferrying Catalinas from the USA to the UK. In 1941 he flew President Roosevelts personal envoy Harry Hopkins to Archangel for an assessment of Stalin. Flying a Catalina from Invergorden Mckinley delivered his charge after a flight of 20 hours and was fortunate not to be intercepted by the Luftwaffe off Norway. In 1942 he attended a specialist navigation course in Canada and became chief instructor at the RAF's navigation school and because of his skills he was selected in 1944 to captain 'Aries One' a specially adapted Lancaster on a round the world flight which halved the previous record time. In 1945 he flew to the North Pole from Reykjavik and appointments followed in the Air Ministry and at Farnborough.

At some point he was flying a Stirling when all its engines failed and he ordered all the crew to bale out plus the Belgian Astronomer Royal - but he landed the aircraft safely.

In 1962 he was CO of Christmas Island during the atomic tests and retired from the service in 1968 to Alderney in the Channel Islands.

The full Obituary can be read on

RE: Obituary to A.V.M David McKinley CBE, CB, AFC and Bar, DFC, MID
Author: HughAHalliday
Time Stamp:
02:24:15 Tuesday, March 5, 2002
[font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 03-May-02 AT 02:42 AM (GMT)[/font][p][font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 03-May-02 AT 02:34%A0AM (GMT)[/font]

Flight, issue of September 29th, 1945, pp.325-326 reports several awards for "Aries" flight to Canada, 1945. McKinley's Bar to AFC citation is the only one printed in full. It reads as follows:

"Wing Commander McKinley is a brilliant pilot who has captained the Lancaster aircraft "Aries" on two of the most outstanding missions ever undertaken in aircraft of the Royal Air Force. In October and November 1944, he conducted a liaison and good will flight to New Zealand, Australia, New Guinea and the South West Pacific in the course of which he faultlessly maintained an intricate and exacting schedule of visits. The flight was the first full-length circumnavigation of the globe undertaken by the Royal Air Force and the return flight from Australia was made in the remarkably short time of 72 hours, almost halving the previous record. This officer has since captained the same aircraft on the first exploratory flight ever made by the Royal Air Force to the North Pole, which was reached on May 17th, 1945. By the time Wing Commander McKinley had landed again at Reykjavik he had flown 28 hours out of a period of 30 3/4 hours, having been previously forced back owing to severe icing. On May 20th, 1945, he carried out a flight from the Labrador coast to the Boothia Peninsula, where the North Magnetic Pole is at present charted. As he failed to locate it there he proceeded northwestwards to verify certain calculations of the Astronomer Royal, which he was able to corroborate before returning to Montreal. Finally, on May 26th, Wing Commander McKinley flew non-stop from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, to Shawbury, passing over the North Magnetic Pole and well into the Arctic regions, a distance of 4,100 miles, thus accomplishing a practical demonstration of the possibilities of exploiting Polar air route. In all, the aircraft "Aries" was flown 25,300 miles on the expedition. By his latest flights this officer has attracted world-wide admiration of, and confidence in, British aviation, and by his exceptional prowess and gallantry he has materially contributed to the prestige of the Royal Air Force. It is indicative of his perseverance and skilful pilotage that these flights have been accomplished almost entirely under manual control, the automatic pilot having failed very soon after leaving Shawbury on both occasions."

For more see W/C D.C. McKinley, "The Arctic Flights of the Aries", W/C K.C. Maclure, "Technical Aspects of the Aries Flights", and W/C Winfield, "Note on the Medical Aspects of the Aries Flight", all in The Geographical Journal, Volume CVII, Nos.3 and 4 (March-April), 1946; "Polar Navigation", The Aeroplane, December 28th, 1945; W/C R.H. Winfield, "The Royal Air Force North Polar Research Flights", The Polar Record, Volume 5, Nos.33 and 34 (January-July), 1947; see also Bruce Robertson, Lancaster: The Story of a Famous Bomber (Harleyford Publications, Letchworth, 1964), pp.91-95; Francis K. Mason, The Avro Lancaster (London, Aston Publications, 1989), pp.211-212 and 221-222.

His DFC was reported with no published citation. I have the following:

McKINLEY, David Cecil, F/O (40125, Royal Air Force) - No.228 Squadron - Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 31 May 1940. Public Record Office Air 2/9413 has recommendation and citation. // This officer has shown outstanding devotion to duty as captain of a flying boat. Since the outbreak of war he has carried out very long and arduous patrols, many of which have been completed in exceptionally bad weather.