Roland Beaumont was born on 10th August 1920. Educated at Eastbourne College he joined the Royal Air Force on the outbreak of the Second World War. He was sent to France where he flew a Hawker Hurricane and in 1940 took part in the Battle of Britain.
In 1942 Beaumont began testing the Hawker Typhoon and in 1944 he achieved national fame in the fight against the V1 Flying Bomb. Beaumont downed more than 30 of them. Most were shot down but on several occasions he upset their flightpath by flying alongside at 450mph and tipping them over with the wing of his Hawker Tempest.
Beaumont began testing Britain's first jet aircraft, the Gloster Meteor, in 1944. However, he crashed while flying a Hawker Tempest over France in October 1944 and spent the rest of the war in a German prison camp.
After leaving the Royal Air Force in 1947, Beaumont joined English Electric and helped develop the Canberra jet bomber. Beaumont became the first British aviator to reach the speed of sound when he flew the P86 in California in 1948.
In May 1949 Beaumont, flying a Canberra jet bomber, completed the first ever one-day double crossing of the Atlantic. Five years later he became the first man to fly the supersonic English Electric P1 Lightning. Roland Beaumont died on 19th November 2001.