Hi, I’m Steve Partoon, test engineer at the Advanced Structural Testing Centre (ASTC).
The best thing about being part of the structural testing team is that we get to break things and don’t get in trouble for doing so. We get to do it legitimately without having to say sorry afterwards. Aside from that I work with some great people that make coming to work fun.
My role in the Whiffetree Project is Set Designer. It’s my job to get the test rig (the whiffletree) built. I’m ordering materials, designing parts, coordinating the manufacturing of parts, building the various structures and bringing everything together to build the whiffletree ready for the planes arrival.
The part of the project I’m most looking forward to is getting the plane up onto the strong floor and pressing the button and watching the plane move for the first time, making sure all the strain gauges are working because that’s where I’ll be involved after the rig’s built.
The most interesting project that I’ve been involved with to date was being part of the team that updated and installed the internal communications equipment in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster bomber and Spitfires.
If I had the opportunity to fly any aircraft it would have to be the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird because it’s something I’ve always liked since I was a small boy. That was the picture on my wall when I was growing up and it was and still is, I believe, the fastest plane ever built – it goes that high that it skips on the edge of the atmosphere.