- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2006

Peter Masefield, Britain’s first civil air attache at the British Embassy in the District, died Feb. 14 in Sussex, England. He was 91.

Born March 19, 1914, near Shrewsbury, England, Mr. Masefield attended Westminster School, Chillon College in Switzerland and Jesus College in Cambridge.

His first job was in the drawing office at the Fairey Aviation Co.

Mr. Masefield then worked in journalism for the Aeroplane magazine. During World War II, he ran the Aeroplane Spotter and flew as a correspondent on bombing missions.

In 1943, Mr. Masefield was the only British person to participate in a coast-to-coast tour of U.S. airplane production plants and training bases regarding the bomber offensive of the Royal Air Force and U.S. 8th Air Force against Germany.

In 1945, Mr. Masefield became the first British civil air attache at the British Embassy. He was a principal force in organizing the 1946 Anglo-American Bermuda Air Transport Conference. The agreement reached there served as a model for opening up air routes between nations.

In 1950, he became managing director of British European Airlines, and the company flew the world’s first turboprop airliner in 1953. That same year, he entered the plane — the Vickers Viscount — in the England-to-New Zealand Air Race, where it finished second.

In 1956, Mr. Masefield moved to the Bristol Aeroplane Co. to try to accelerate production of the Britannia four-engined airliner.

He later left Bristol to found the Beagle business-class aircraft company and then became chairman of London Transport and the new British Airports Authority.

For his work in British aviation, Mr. Masefield was knighted in 1972.

He joined British Caledonian Airways in 1975 as director and later as deputy chairman, before retiring in 1988.

Survivors include his wife of more than 60 years, Patricia Masefield of Sussex.


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