He was educated at Hastings" University School, Merchant Taylors" School in Northwood and City of London School.
After leaving school he began an apprenticeship with a cotton manufacturer. On 13 September 1929, Wilson joined the Royal Air Force within the General Duties Branch on a short service commission. He trained at the Number.
5 Flight Training School and was later posted to Number.
111 Squadron. Exactly five years after joining the Royal Air Force in 1934 he was placed on the Reserve of Air Force Officers. Whilst on this reserve list he passed a conversion course on flying boats and also passed as a flying instructor.
In the mid-1930s he worked as a test pilot for Blackburn Aircraft and was, in 1938, the first to fly the Blackburn Roc. He later worked at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough as a civil test pilot.
World World War II
Recalled to active service with the Royal Air Force in 1939, Wilson was the Commanding Officer of the Aerodynamic Flight of the RAE at Royal Air Force Farnborough.
Between 1941 and the end of the war Wilson was the Royal Air Force"s main test pilot on all captured enemy aircraft. Flying these aircraft from Royal Air Force Farnborough (they had been repainted with Royal Air Force roundels), Wilson would evaluate their handling and performance (see Armin Faber incident). After a short period working in America as a test pilot, Wilson joined Number.
616 Squadron in 1944 to train pilots on Britain"s first jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor.
He subsequently became Officer Commanding of the Empire Test Pilots" School at Royal Air Force Cranfield. On 7 November 1945, flying the Gloster Meteor Britannia (EE454) over a 1.86 miles (299 km) course at Herne Bay in Kent, Wilson averaged a new world air speed record for a jet fighter of 606.38 miles per hour (97587 km/h).
After leaving the Royal Air Force with the rank of Group Captain, Wilson worked as an engine salesman for Blackburn Aircraft and Rolls-Royce.