Emotional trip down memory lane for daughter of jet pilot killed at Burtonwood

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VIDEO: THE daughter of an American test pilot who was tragically killed when the plane he was flying crashed at Burtonwood, made an emotional visit to Warrington to perform the official opening of a road named in his memory.

Barbara Borsodi, who was making her first-ever trip to the UK was just six weeks old when her test-pilot father, Frederic Borsodi, was killed on January 28, 1945 while demonstrating the first US jet-propelled fighter, the P-80, in RAF Burtonwood.

The visit was organised by Aldon Ferguson, President of the Burtonwood Association, as part of a Burtonwood reunion event, who campaigned for a road to be named in memory of Major Borsodi.

Commenting on her visit Barabra said: “It was very emotional to come and listen to schoolchildren singing in honour of my father. I feel his spirit is here.

“It is tremendously moving for me and my family. The sadness and grief was devastating. My older sister wishes she could be here. All my mother could do at the time was cry over my crib. the heartbreak was huge.”

Barbara Borsodi with Aldon Ferguson

Four YP-80’s were sent to Europe for operational testing (demonstration, familiarization and possible interception roles) under Project Extraversion; two to BAD#1 at Burtonwood, England and two to the 1st Fighter Group at Lesina Airfield, Italy, but when test pilot Major Frederic Borsodi was killed in a crash caused by an engine fire on 28 January 1945, demonstrating YP-80A 44-83026 on its second flight at RAF Burtonwood, the YP-80A was temporarily grounded.

The remaining YP-80A in England went off to Rolls-Royce, on loan for flight tests with the Nene B.41 turbojet engine. YP-80A operations were strictly off-limits to regular USAAF personnel.

Between January and March 1945 however, two American pre-production Lockheed YP-80A Shooting Star fighter jets did see limited service in Italy with the USAAF. While both test and operational pilots flew the YP-80As, civilians maintained them.

The jet deployments to Europe were already classified and became even more so after the Borsodi crash in England. It’s unclear whether anyone expected these YP-80As to see combat however one purpose of their journey was to build the morale of Eighth and Fifteenth Air Force heavy bomber crews, who were confronting German jets every day. Unfortunately, because of delays in delivery of production aircraft, the P-80 saw no actual combat during the conflict.

Major Frederic Borsodi (service No 0-420960) entered service in Connecticut and served from 1941 to 1943 as a second lieutenant in the African, Sicilian, and Italian campaigns, completing 130 missions as a P-40 pilot. His flying experience with the P-40 in the Mediterranean area probably formed his basis of comparison of the Bf 109G-6/trop and the US Army Air Forces fighters.

He became chief of fighter testing from 1943-45 at Wright Field in Ohio. He was the first man to witness the compressibility shock wave on an aircraft wing while diving a P-51 plane from 40,000 feet. He was killed on January 28, 1945 while demonstrating the first US jet-propelled fighter, the P-80, in RAF Burtonwood, England. As a result, the YP-80A was temporarily grounded.

28 Jan 45 YP-80A Shooting Star 43-83026 crashed approx three miles west of Burtonwood field, pilot, Major Borsodi was killed and the aircraft completely destroyed; the engine exploded between 500 and 1000 ft. This plane was one of two jet propelled planes on the field. Both planes had received a first flight check; the above-mentioned plane crashed during a routine second flight.

Following her visit to Warrington Barbara visited Cambridge where her father is buried – Plot C, Row 4 Grave 73.

His awards were: Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters.

Burtonwood

Major Frederic A Borsodi

Road named after test pilot who tragically died when experimental jet plane crashed at Burtonwood


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Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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