It is sad to belatedly report that former Flight staffer and engine section editor of Jane’s All the World’s aircraft, Bill Gunston OBE, has passed away on 1 June. Like his Jane’s colleague, John W.R. Taylor, Gunston became one of the greats of British aviation writing.
After serving as an RAF pilot (and later a flying instructor) in the late 1940s during which time he flew the subsonic De Havilland Vampire jet fighter, Gunston joined the Flight magazine, becoming technical editor in 1955. In the 1960s Gunston became part of the team producing the Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft including becoming editor of its aero engine section.
Noted for his ”expert commentary” style, Gunston published several books on aircraft including, in the more popular end of the aviation book market, the colouful aircraft reference series published by Salamander in the 1970s.
Gunston also used an evidence based approach including sometimes quoting the views of their users to identify great aircraft. For instance, in the Salamander series’ An Illustrated Guide to NATO Fighters and Attack Aircraft, Gunston noted the popularity of the Buccaneer strike bomber with its crews, many of whom wished it could have been modernised to prolong its service life. Even now, several decades the type was withdrawn from service with the RAF and Royal Navy, the Blackburn Buccaneer is deemed by the aerospace cognoscenti as one of world’s greatest strike aircraft ever.
On rockets and space, Gunston’s The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of the World’s Rockets and Missiles became a seminal reference guide for those wishing to find out the history of early generation rockets and missiles. It remains recommended by this writer.
Bill Gunston was awarded an OBE in 1996 for his influential and expert writing. We at Flightglobal’s Hyperbola column salute Bill Gunston and give our condolences to his family and friends.