After a distinguished operational tour flying from Britain's first escort carrier, he was selected as a test pilot in 1942. In his test flying career he has flown a world record 490 basic types of aircraft, and made a world record 2,407 aircraft carrier landings in fixed-wing aircraft. In 1995 he was inducted into the US Navy's Carrier Aviation Test Pilot Hall of Honor, the only non-American to have received this accolade.
In 2000 he joined a very select group, when he was invited to deliver the Lindbergh Memorial Lecture at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, and along with Neil Armstrong was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Edinburgh University in 2008.
Now in his nineties, he still lectures regularly in Britain, Europe and America.