Telegraph obituary extracts 2 May 2010
Downey was born at Streatham on November 26 1920 and educated at Whitgift. On leaving school he immediately volunteered for pilot training with the RAF, gaining his wings just before his 19th birthday.
He spent the early days of the war flying Ansons on patrols over the North Sea before leaving for Gibraltar in September 1941 to join No 202 Squadron, whose Catalinas had the job of preventing enemy shipping and submarines from entering the Mediterranean and of monitoring the Vichy French Fleet in Algerian ports.
After a series of appointments as an instructor, in May 1944 Downey joined No 224 Squadron. With D-Day imminent, the squadron concentrated on cutting the transit routes in and out of the French Atlantic ports. In September Downey and his crews moved to Milltown in Morayshire, and turned their attention to the Norwegian coast.
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his 224 Squadron service.
Downey commanded Aries III, a modified Lincoln bomber, when it took off on October 20 1950 on a round-the-world flight of 29,000 miles.
The Lincoln took 14 hours 26 minutes to reach Khartoum – a record that stood for five years until beaten by a Comet airliner. Downey then headed for Mauritius before taking off on a direct flight to Perth, Western Australia; this was believed to be the first west-to-east non-stop flight across the Indian Ocean. After crossing Australia, Aries III headed over the Pacific for the United States, arriving back in England after a flight that had lasted a total of 28 days. Downey was awarded an AFC