RAYMOND Leslie Wheeler, who worked on the Princess Flying Boat, the Black Knight and Black Arrow rockets, and the development of the hovercraft, has died at 91.

He was the technical director of Saunders-Roe and was involved in community work throughout his life.

Mr Wheeler, of Old Road, East Cowes, was born London in 1927, to parents who were from the IW. The family moved back to the Island in 1935.

He attended Newport Grammar School until 1945, and started an apprenticeship at Saunders-Roe.

In 1951 he studied aeronautics at the University of Southampton, where he met his wife Jean.

He then studied at Imperial College, London, graduating with an MSc and a Diploma of Imperial College.

He returned to East Cowes in 1953, taking up full-time employment at Saunders-Roe. Promotion led to him becoming technical director in 1983.

He worked on many important projects and after a fulfilling 45-year career at the same company, he retired in 1991.

In 1995 he was delighted to become a Royal Designer for Industry, one of only 100 in the country.

Throughout his life, Mr Wheeler was involved in community work. He was a governor of Cowes High School, chairman of governors at the IW College of Arts and Technology, and Whippingham Primary School.

He initiated the creation of the IW branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society, was a founding member and vice-chairman of East Cowes Heritage, and chairman of the East Cowes branch of the RNLI.

He kept busy and active after retirement, writing several books about Saunders-Roe and its engineering projects.

He also took up watercolour painting, and as chairman of the GKN hockey club, he continued playing hockey and cricket until he was over 70.

His family described him as a kind, considerate and generous man, who lived life to the full.

He is survived by his wife, Jean, three children — Lesley Rathmann, Jennifer Harrison and Douglas Wheeler — five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will take place at East Cowes Methodist Church on July 19, at 1pm.

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