Short Brothers Aviation Pioneers

1917 – 1968

SHORTS BOYS | These are the men, women and boys who worked for Short Brothers

ROBERT BOORMAN.... from his nephew Richard Boorman

Robert ‘Bob’ Boorman was the Short’s Chief Technical Engineer. He started wort at Rochester in August 1926 and retired after 42 years’ service in March 1968, Throughout his career he was a big part of the Apprentice Scheme that was widely recognised as a sound basis for training young boys in engineering.

He completed four years technical training in Chatham Dockyard Upper School as an apprentice before being recruited by Shorts and became one of many to become the ‘brains’ of the future design department. All were imbued with the shipbuilding traditions which distinguished Shorts constructional methods from those of other aircraft manufacturers.

In 1930, as technical representative, Bob assisted in the assembly of the SHORT/KAWANISHI K-F1 flying boat in Japan. The directors of Kawanishi and the Japanese naval pilots were delighted with its’ performance and it was accepted for immediate production using local materials as far as possible.

Lipscomb and his team (including Bob Boorman) staying on for over a year 1933/34 to instruct and supervise production.

When developing and testing the prototype ‘Knuckleduster’ (The Short R24/31)

C.H. Barnes recalls…

“John Parker completed satisfactory diving tests from 6000 feet at speeds of over 200 m.p.h.; parachutes being worn for the first time and Boorman in the co-pilots seat concentrated strictly on reading his instruments.

His natural apprehension as a ‘stress-merchant’ had not been allayed by Parker’s final briefing before take-off. “Bob, if I say jump now, you bloody well jump!”