Wing Commander William Hoy, who has died aged 93, was a successful wartime night fighter pilot, and in 1957 set a new world record time for a flight from Tokyo to London.
During the early post-war years, the RAF Flying College flew a variety of aircraft named “Aries” on a series of long-range and record-breaking flights. Hoy joined the college as an instructor in June 1955, coinciding with the arrival of a specially modified Canberra PR 7, “Aries V”.
In June 1956 Hoy took the aircraft on a series of flights in West Africa, studying the problems of flying at very high altitude near the tropopause (the boundary between the dense atmosphere around Earth, known as the troposphere, and the stratosphere) in equatorial latitudes. He then flew the aircraft direct from Dakar to his base in Lincolnshire, a distance of 2,760 miles.
A year later he made his record-breaking flight from Tokyo. The aircraft had been flown to Japan on May 23 1957 by another crew from the Flying College in an elapsed time of 19 hours. After just two hours on the ground, Aries V, flown by Hoy and his crew, took off for Fairbanks in Alaska, where they refuelled before heading for the North Pole on a direct flight to London. They landed after a flight of 4,211 miles, the longest ever record attempt by a RAF jet aircraft at that time. The total elapsed time for the 8,000-mile flight from Tokyo was a few minutes short of 18 hours. Hoy was awarded an AFC for his work at the RAF Flying College.
William Hoy was born in Edinburgh on December 23 1918 and educated at George Watson’s College, where he won a scholarship to the RAF College, Cranwell. He graduated as a pilot in October 1939.
He flew Anson and Hudson aircraft on shipping sweeps over the North Sea, taking part in the operations over the Norwegian coast after the German invasion in April 1940. He then joined No 420 Flight, flying the antiquated Harrow bomber on operations to drop aerial mines by night. The mines were attached to 2,000ft of piano wire in the hope that enemy bombers would fly into the wire, causing the mines to strike them and explode. There are no recorded successes.
Converting to the Beaufighter night fighter in late 1941, Hoy joined No 604 Squadron and was soon appointed a flight commander. On the night of July 29 1942 he shot down a Heinkel bomber off Land’s End and, in spring 1943, he accounted for two more off the coast of Yorkshire and damaged a third. On another occasion he led another Beaufighter on a well-planned attack on an enemy reconnaissance aircraft, which was destroyed as a direct result of Hoy’s initiative. In July 1943 he was awarded a DFC . After a rest period, Hoy returned to the front line as flight commander of 25 Squadron, flying the Mosquito. On July 9 1944 he shot down a V-1 flying bomb over the Channel. After the war Hoy commanded two night fighter squadrons before being appointed wing commander, flying at Church Fenton in Yorkshire – the home of four fighter squadrons. He attended No 1 Course at the new RAF Flying College at Manby, Lincolnshire, before taking up an appointment in the Middle East. After his flight in Aries V, Hoy served with Nato and at the Air Ministry. His last appointment before retiring in 1966 was as station commander at RAF Manston in Kent. Hoy then worked as the station manager for Invicta Airways, operating from Manston, before joining the building industry, spending some years on the sales staff of Tunnel Cement. He finally retired to Bedfordshire before moving to Australia to live near his daughter. William Hoy married, in 1945, Monica Evans. She and a son predeceased him. He is survived by his daughter. Wg Cdr William Hoy, born December 23 1918, died November 20 2012