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News Archive 3

Biggin Hill International Air Fair 2003 saved
Vulcan latest (30th May 2003)
Eurofighter crashes in Spain
Sea Harrier T8 Crash
Puma crash
Air Fete Cancelled
No Team Khalifa for 2003
Defence 2003 Postponed
RAF Cosford Airshow 2003 Cancelled
Last Year of the Breitling Fighters
Sea Vixen 2003 Display Dates
Utterly Butterly Barnstormers 2003 Display Schedule
ASTOR - Entry into service
The Queen's Birthday Flypast
Spirit of St Louis crash
Hunter crash
OFMC LA-9 Arrives
Sea Harrier Crash
RAF Lyneham to close
Fatal Firefly crash
Hawk crash
Blenheim Belly-Flop

Vulcan XH558

Vulcan XH558 was the last flying Vulcan, and it was a terrific display aircraft. It is kept in flying condition at Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire. The owner of XH558 is negotiating with the CAA and British Aerospace with the aim of getting this great aircraft in the air again.

Vulcan latest (Jan 2001)

Although no formal decision has been announced it looks as though the VOC might be going for a 'soft-start' option. The total amount to restore the aircraft is still some way off but there should be enough in the bank to begin the work. Response has been encouraging after 558's appearance in the national and international press and the money continues to roll in. The VOC will be at Waddington airshow and RIAT so make sure you hand over your wad to the VOC stand rather than the caterers, every pound counts.

Vulcan latest (Aug 2001)

A significant point in the activity to return XH558 to flight has been reached. Exhaustive work and discussion have taken place over recent months with regard to Avro Vulcan XH558. Since Vulcan to the Sky was launched in January this year, funds have been coming in from thousands of supporters and have enabled the work to return her to the sky to begin. The months have passed by and each one has brought the engineering team nearer their goal. This means that the whole programme is now a third of its way to completion.

A golden opportunity for an impressive old war bird to fly again (article in the Times Oct 19/2000)

Vulcan latest (Jan 2002)

All engineering activity on the aircraft has been suspended, awaiting the approvals and funding for the next stage of the Major: the Inspection phase. The aircraft remains on jacks, without engines, wheels, undercarriage units, canopy, radome, avionics systems, fuel tanks and with all of her inspection panels removed. The documentation supporting the Major is complete, including records of work done to date, and a description of any faults found.

XH558 is in the most deeply-stripped state that she has been in since manufacture: there is no going back - the only way now is forward.

The next phase of the Major Service is formal Inspection of every part of the aircraft by approved technicians under the control of Marshall Aerospace, the Engineering Authority. For this to commence, the organisation and procedures proposed by Marshall Aerospace must be approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Draft documentation (the "A8-20 Exposition") is being presented to both the CAA and to the Design Authority, BAE Systems for approval, which is expected within the next two months.

The hangar facilities at Bruntingthorpe will also be audited and formally approved by the CAA for the Major Service.

A technical issue remains, arising out of concern for the integrity of the electrical wiring, given the profile of this issue on older aircraft. The main focus of the investigation is on the quality of electrical terminations in exposed parts of the aircraft such as the undercarriage bays. An action plan to create appropriate inspection criteria and rectification procedures is under way.

A draft Organisational Control Manual (OCM) describing the way that the VOC intends to operate the aircraft has been submitted to the CAA, and some very valuable initial feedback has been received.

Project Timescales Assuming that necessary financial assistance becomes available before April 2002, the VOC believes that the Restoration phase of the project will be completed in time for a first test flight of XH558 in early 2003.

No Lottery Funding for XH558

The British Heritage Lottery Fund has declined to provide funding for the Vulcan to the Sky project. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) say reasons for their decision being "value for money", and "risk".

'The Vulcan to the Sky team is aghast at this decision, and feels a huge sense of frustration that this should happen. Why, one has to ask? It feels so unjust. So much has been achieved, but it seems that at the moment we may well not be able to take the programme any further.'

If you wish to make your feelings about their decision known directly to the HLF, then please ring them on 0207 591 6046 or 0207 591 6041, or send an email to, copying and, or write to Anthea Case, Director, Heritage Lottery Fund, 7 Holbein Place, London, SW1W 8NR as soon as you are able. Alternatively, you can e-mail Anthea Case directly at or fax on 0207 591 6013.

Above taken from Vulcan 558 Club

BBC News Report

Vulcan Restoration Trust Statement

Vulcan latest (Mar 2003)

'Vulcan to the Sky' (VTS) embarks on Phase Two of the programme to return XH558 to flight.

'Phase one is complete' says Dr Robert Pleming Project Director of Vulcan to the Sky (VTS)'This is an astonishing achievement and our thanks to all those, including 15,000 'Friend' of VTS who have contributed. We have been at the crossroads of the Campaign since last November when the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) turned down our application for a grant to fund the restoration of this unique British Heritage Asset. Following discussion the HLF has suggested that VTS should reapply. We have evaluated the project and decided that we must undertake this opportunity. We have, therefore, prepared a new application, embracing all the points and more, that the HLF raised in their debrief session. Phase one the Preparation is complete: phase two the Restoration awaits the decision of the HLF; phase three her Display Life which will follow and gives the most extraordinary access to millions who may see her overhead, a unique and sobering lifetime experience. Phase four, her Retirement will place her in a national museum safe and available forever for anyone who wishes access.'

'We have been warmed by the tremendous support we have received from so many who have expressed their dismay at the rejection to the HLF. We now wish to move on and turn this feeling into positive support for the reapplication and in so doing ask everyone who believes in the unique quality of the VTS project to contribute to the Save our Heritage Campaign. Everyone who contributes will receive a SOH badge and in addition to being a 'Friend' of VTS and having contributed to the preparation of XH558 by contributing to Phase One will also be part of Phase Two. Phase Two is the restoration of the unique programme of saving the heritage of the nation. The Vulcan was fundamental in the Cold War, the initiative that kept peace in the world throughout a time of conflict and diplomatic discussion. She is unique to our heritage and I hope that you will, with me, rally to persuade the HLF that she is an irreplaceable part of our national heritage' says Felicity Irwin Campaign Director of VTS.

Vulcan latest (30th May 2003)

The future of a British flying legend is once again hanging in the balance and her support team are fighting for her survival. The Vulcan to The Sky (VTS) team, who are running a campaign to return the last Avro Vulcan to flight, are lodging their second application with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) on Friday May 30th. This application has four major new factors and addresses the weaknesses perceived by the HLF in the previous application, which together with new partnership agreements, significant letters of support and an enormous amount of factual information enhances the chances of the programme gaining support of the HLF Trustees. The fact that Avro Vulcan XH558 is the only remaining Vulcan in the world that can ever fly and that she is undoubtedly an awesome and significant British heritage asset will be supported by the reality that with the granting of funds the HLF will allow;

1. The Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) to secure the aircraft for the nation;
2. The VTST to carry out the stewardship of XH558 throughout 10-15 years of display life and ensure visibility to the widest possible audience linked to a programme of interpretation, education and training;
3. The VTST to ensure a sustainable programme through a realistic business plan, and a minimum risk programme through very high technical standards;
4. XH558 to ultimately retire to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford as the finest aircraft of her era in the world, available to many generations in perpetuity.

Vulcan Stage One Pass (December 2003)

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) have allocated a 'Stage 1' grant for the restoration of XH558. Basically, this means they've put aside £2.5million which will be released on the condition that the campaign can raise a further £600,000.

Great News

Vulcan to the Sky - Save Our Heritage (VTS-SOH) has received confirmation of the Stage One Pass from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to their application for a grant. This is excellent news and the money requested has been allocated so that further information on specific areas can be given and Stage Two passed, which means the funding will then be forthcoming.

The HLF have ring fenced £2.5M, which will be released when Stage Two is passed.

The £500,000 that we have been targeting for December has reached £370,000, and is increasing daily. This was needed for the Stage One Pass. It does, however, leave us with a further £600,000 to raise to complete our full funding commitment of 29% of the required funding. £1.3million has been raised through donations, support in kind and pledges to date and we will continue to seek pledges and funding for the Stage Two Pass decision.

Thank you to everyone for their support so far. We need it more than ever now to raise the final £600,000 to conclude our matched funding target.

What a result and so well deserved. Everyone has given 110% effort to the project to return Avro Vulcan XH558 to flight. This includes everyone who has donated and supported but particular mention must be due to the Walton family, The Vulcan 558 Club, 'The Friends' of VTS and all those who are partners in our application.

The Stage One Pass means that we still have hoops to jump through before the grant is released but it is fantastic and makes the project financially viable. For the VTS team the real business has just begun.

For supporters until now victory is within sight and restoration and the realisation of flight will be the next milestone. We can only move forward and take the whole of the nation with us. Please continue to send your pledges we simply have to reach the £600,000 for the Stage Two Pass.

As Liz Forgan Chairman of the HLF says: "In the normal way of things we do not restore aircraft to flight but The Heritage Lottery Fund was really impressed with the imaginative way in which the Trust's new proposal will let as many people as possible learn about this important part of their heritage. The Vulcan could soon take to the skies again, thanks to this exceptional award made possible by lottery players' money. Now a whole new generation will be able to see this unique and much loved aircraft restored and in action before it retires to the nationally important Imperial War Museum, Duxford."

This news at the start of National Aviation week and in the Centennial Year of Powered Flight is truly significant also it comes exactly a decade after XH558 landed at Bruntingthorpe. The next decade will herald the flight of XH558 and the story of The Cold War will be told to all. Exciting times.

Thank you everyone. Just one more step!

Robert Pleming Felicity Irwin

Latest news from

Biggin Hill International Air Fair 2003 saved

The Biggin Hill International Air Fair has been saved by News Shopper newspaper. Months of negotiation between the newspaper, air fair organisers and business chiefs, led to an announcement this morning that the show will go ahead in 2003. The newspaper became involved when it was revealed next June's event would have to be axed because of escalating costs.

With £100,000 needed to guarantee the event would be held, it was a tough task, but News Shopper came to the rescue.

Publisher Martyn Willis, who led the negotiations, is delighted the show has been saved for the people of south east London and north Kent.

He said: "I am absolutely delighted we have been able to step in at the eleventh hour and save the air fair.

"This air show and its links with historic Biggin Hill are famous around the world - it would have been terrible if it had folded." "There has been a great deal going on behind the scenes to save the show and I would like to personally thank co-sponsors for their commitment".

News Shopper has been joined in sponsoring the show by John Power, chairman of the Westmead Business Group, and John Tovey, chief executive of internet group Wina.

Westmead owns various companies across south London, inclding the Aerodrome Hotel in Croydon and Addington Palace Hotel and Country Club.

Wina specialises in SMS text messaging services, internet marketing and competitions.

Jock Maitland, of Air Displays International, which organises the annual event, says it was vital the show was saved as it fills an important date in the air display calendar. He said: "I am very pleased and relieved that this historic display is to go ahead. We are hoping for good weather and good crowds and expect it to be a great success".

"It is marvellous that the News Shopper and the two companies have got involved".

Biggin Hill official site report

Eurofighter crashes in Spain

A Eurofighter crashed during an exercise 70 miles from Madrid, Spain on 21/11/02. The Eurofighter Typhoon DA6 was flying at an altitude of 45,000 feet when both engines stopped simultaneously. The pilots - a Eurofighter training pilot and a member of the Spanish air force - tried to reignite the engines but failed. It is understood that they managed to guide the plane away from populated areas before ejecting safely.

BBC News report

Sea Harrier T8 Crash

A Sea Harrier T8 crashed on take-off at RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire on 5/12/02 killing Commander Martin London, "the Royal Navy's most distinguished and experienced serving Sea Harrier pilot" who had served in the Gulf, the former Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone. A fellow crew member ejected to safety with non-life threatening injuries.

The crash happened during a conventional take-off. It is not known whether Commander Martin London or his crewmate,who is was instructing, was at the controls at the time. Two RAF rescue helicopters were scrambled from RAF Leconfield in East Yorkshire and RAF Wattisham in Suffolk to join the rescue operation. Both men were from the Royal Naval Air Station in Yeovilton, Somerset and were on attachment to RAF Wittering.

Commander Martin London's bravery had been recorded on BBC One's 999 programme just last week in a reconstruction of a dramatic incident that saw the pilot showered with shards of Perspex and plunged into temperatures of -60C when his cockpit shattered at 40,000ft. In circumstances where many pilots would have ejected, he managed to land the Harrier safely on its aircraft carrier despite it initially spinning out of control. Commander London had also built up a formidable reputation as a trainer of young pilots, becoming known for his desire to keep flying rather than seeking promotion by pursuing desk jobs.

Commander Dickie Payne said Navy fliers had lost a "great pilot and great friend to a whole bunch of people".

BBC News report

Puma crash

An RAF Puma helicopter from 33 Sqn RAF Benson crashed into a field near Abingdon in Oxfordshire on 15th January 2003. It is thought four people were on board the aircraft when it crashed but a MOD spokesman said no one had been injured and the occupants of the helicopter had been taken back to RAF Benson.

BBC News report

Air Fete Cancelled

The Mildenhall Air Fete Airshow which was to have taken place on May 24-25th 2003 has now been cancelled.

RAF MILDENHALL, SUFFOLK- Due to increased operational requirements in support of the Global War on Terrorism, RAF Mildenhall's Air Fete air show in 2003 has been cancelled.

Europe's largest military-sponsored air show typically held over the last weekend in May, draws crowds and aircraft from throughout Europe and the world. In 2001, the show drew its largest crowd ever with more than 550,000 people and 143 aircraft from 14 countries participating.

"We look at many factors before hosting Air Fete," said Col. Donald Lustig, 100th Air Refueling Wing commander. "An important aspect again this year was our operations tempo which has required our aircraft and personnel to be deployed for missions, including support for Operation Enduring Freedom. We also listened to the local community concerns and based our decision on their interests as well."

As the only American aerial refueling wing based in Europe, the KC-135 Stratotankers at Mildenhall are responsible for refueling U.S., NATO and allied aircraft within a 20 million square mile area, covering 93 countries from the Northern tip of Norway to South Africa and from Greenland to Siberia.

Much like the reasons to cancel Air Fete in 1999 due to the Kosovo situation and last year in the aftermath of Sept. 11, the unpredictability of the ongoing war on terrorism has increased the operations tempo for not only RAF Mildenhall but also many sister services and allies.

"In past years operational missions at RAF Mildenhall were suspended during Air Fete, but with the increased operations tempo that isn't an option this year," said Lustig. "It was a difficult decision to make, but in the end we could not guarantee the caliber of event that people expect of an Air Fete at RAF Mildenhall.

"We look forward to continuing our special relationship with the surrounding community and will participate in local events whenever possible to reflect our appreciation of their support," said Lustig. There will be no show in 2004 because of a scheduled runway construction project.

TSgt. Theresa A. McCullough
100th ARW Public Affairs
NCOIC, Media Relations
DSN: 238-4051
COMM: 01638-544051

BBC Suffolk News report

Stars and Stripes report

Mildenhall Air Fete site

No Team Khalifa for 2003

The new aerobatic team, Team Khalifa, which was born in May 2002, will not take part in any events in 2003 due to financial constraints. The civilian run aerobatic team flies five Albatros L39 Jet trainers.

Team Khalifa website

Defence 2003 Postponed

Deployment of UK Armed forces to the Gulf region has led to the postponement until next year of Defence 2003. Defence 2003 was to be held at RAF Fairford this year (2003) along with the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT). However RIAT is still going ahead at RAF Fairford on 19th -20th July 2003.

More details & RIAT info

RAF Cosford Airshow 2003 Cancelled

The air show at RAF Cosford in Shropshire has been cancelled for the first time since the event began 25 years ago.

The organisers have made the decision because they do not know whether there will be enough military aircraft to take part in the event as a result of the Iraq crisis.

The show is the biggest single-day public attraction in the Midlands, drawing crowds of up to 50,000 people.

The event had been scheduled to take place on 8 June.

The air show's organisers said the decision has not been taken lightly, but that uncertainties over events in the Gulf have made the action necessary.

A spokesman said the early cancellation would safeguard future funding and enable the event to continue in years to come.

Taken from the BBC website.

Sleap Airshow 2003 Cancelled

The Sleap 2003 airshow has been cancelled due to two reasons. Firstly, the huge loss that was made last year and secondly, the landowners are making the road access to the airfield twice the width. This work is due to start this August, which is when the show would have been happening.

Last Year of the Breitling Fighters

2003 will be the fifth and final year of the Breitling Fighters display team.

Created in 1998 after discussions between Theodore Schneider, Breitling's President, and Mark Hanna of Duxford based Old Flying Machine Company, the team made its first appearance at the Basel Watch Fair in April 1999 operating a Spitfire IX, P51 Mustang, Corsair, P.40 Kittyhawk and Me 109j.

Since then, the Breitling Fighters Team has flown more than 2,000 sorties, of which nearly 600 were display flights, covering 13 countries stretching throughout Europe. With the Spitfire, Mustang, Corsair and Kittyhawk as their key formation display aircraft, the team has become synonymous with the precision, expertise and aesthetic appeal of Breitling chronographs.

Looking forward to 2004, Mr Schneider said, "The association with the Old Flying Machine Company has been a resounding success and the Breitling Fighters Team has surpassed our expectations. The image has been perfectly suited to our products and, despite the vagaries of the European weather these aircraft have always and without exception been in the right place at the right time – Swiss chronographic precision!

"It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to work in partnership with the Old Flying Machine Company. 2003 marks the fifth year of Breitling Fighters operations and we feel that it is now time for us to move forward with OFMC in developing another exciting project which will be announced at a future time."

PRESS RELEASE 2nd May 2003 - Taken from OFMC website.

Sea Vixen 2003 Display Dates

Red Bull has sponsored the world's only flying Sea Vixen for the 2003 season.

You can see the Sea Vixen in her new colour scheme here.
Thanks to Tim Skeet.

May 2003
25th Southend Airshow
26th Southend Airshow
31st Coventry Classic Airshow

June 2003
1st Coventry Classic Airshow
7th Biggin Hill Air Fair
8th Biggin Hill Air Fair
15th Wellesbourne Mountford Vulcan Open Day
15th Kemble Classic Jet Airshow
26th Zeltweg Airshow
27th Zeltweg Airshow
28th Zeltweg Airshow
29th Zeltweg Airshow

July 2003
5th Manx Festival of Aviation
6th Manx Festival of Aviation
12th Festival of Flight
16th RNAS Culdrose International Air Day
18th RIAT 2003
19th RIAT 2003
20th RIAT 2003

August 2003
16th Eastbourne International Airshow
17th Eastbourne International Airshow
21st Clacton Airshow
22nd Clacton Airshow
24th Great Yorkshire Airshow
25th Great Yorkshire Airshow
25th Austria
26th Austria
27th Austria
28th Austria
29th Austria
30th Shoreham Airshow
31st Shoreham Airshow

September 2003
6th Southport Airshow
7th Southport Airshow
11th Jersey International Air Display
20th RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day

October 2003
12th Duxford Autumn Airshow

Click here for more information on the Sea Vixen.

Utterly Butterly Barnstormers Aerosuperbatics Ltd 2003 Display Schedule

24th - Pau Airshow
25th - Pau Airshow
25th - Southend Airshow
26th - Southend Airshow
31st - Portrush
31st - Coventry Classic Airshow

1st - Portrush
7th - Emmerdale Weekend Scotland
7th - Biggin Hill Air Fair
7th - RAF Lyneham Classics on the Wing
8th - Emmerdale Weekend Scotland
8th - Biggin Hill Air Fair
14th - Phalsborough
14th - Wirral River Festival
15th - Phalsborough
15th - Old Buckenham Fly In
28th - RAF Waddington International Airshow
29th - RAF Waddington International Airshow
29th - Broughton Game Fair

5th - London City Airport Airshow
5th - Manx Festival of Aviation
6th - Manx Festival of Aviation
12th - RAF Lyenham Families Day
12th - RAF Brize Norton Families Day
12th July - Messier Dowty Open Day
16th - RNAS Culdrose International Air Day
19th - RIAT 2003
19th - RAF Halton Show
20th - RAF Halton Show
20th - RIAT 2003
23rd - RAF Scampton Families Day
26th - Whitstable Regatta
26th - Leicester Airport Fly In
27th - Scarborough
27th - Branscombe Fly In
27th - Liverpool
31st - Lowestoft Air Festival

1st - Lowestoft Air Festival
2nd - Herne Bay
2nd - Blenheim Palace Airshow
2nd - Swindon
3rd - Swindon
10th - Blackpool Sky Festival
14th - Dawlish
14th - Eastbourne International Airshow
15th - Eastbourne International Airshow
16th - Eastbourne International Airshow
17th - Eastbourne International Airshow
21st - Clacton Airshow
22nd - Clacton Airshow
23rd - Amboise Dierre
24th - Amboise Dierre
24th - Great Yorkshire Airshow
25th - Great Yorkshire Airshow
25th - Hoy Lake
30th - Old Buckenham Country Fayre
30th - Shoreham Airshow
31st - Shoreham Airshow
31st - Shepway Airshow

6th - Southport Airshow
6th - Duxford 2003 Airshow
7th - Duxford 2003 Airshow
7th - Southport Airshow
7th - Ripley Castle
11th - Jersey International Air Display
13th - RAF Leuchars Airshow
20th - RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day

ASTOR - Entry into service

The RAF's new Airborne Stand-Off Radar aircraft (ASTOR) will be operated by the reformed No 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron at RAF Waddington and be known as the Sentinel. The reformed squadron will formally 'stand-up' from 1 April 2004 when the main body of personnel assigned to the squadron will be posted in. The process of reforming No 5 (AC) Squadron will effectively begin in September 2003 when the first personnel will be posted in.

The choice of No 5 Squadron is most appropriate. During the First World War the squadron worked very closely with the Canadian Corps on the Western Front in the artillery spotting role, adopting the Maple Leaf as it's squadron emblem. The Sentinel is based on the Bombardier Global Express airframe - a Canadian company.

In December 1999, Raytheon Systems Ltd was awarded a contract for the development of the UK Ministry of Defence Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR). The system, which includes five Bombadier Global Express business jet aircraft fitted with a derivative of the Raytheon ASARS-2 radar, is an airborne battlefield or ground surveillance radar system which will be operational with the Royal Air Force and the British Army in the year 2005. The first flight of a Global Express jet configured as an ASTOR platform took place in August 2001 and the first production aircraft was delivered to Raytheon in February 2002 for integration of the ASTOR system. The first ground station vehicle was delivered in October 2002. The main ASTOR operating centre will be based at RAF Waddington in the UK.

Photo of Sentinel (ASTOR) - RAF site.

RAF News.

Details of Sentinel (ASTOR).

The Queen's Birthday Flypast

On 14 June 2003 a flypast of RAF aircraft will overfly Buckingham Palace as part of the Queen's official birthday celebrations. The flypast will comprise of the following:

Formation Leader in a C-17 provided by RAF Brize Norton
Second element will be a Tristar (RAF Brize Norton) with 2 Tornado GR4s (RAF Marham).
Third element will be a Sentry AEW1 (RAF Waddington) with 2 Tornado F3s (RAF Leuchars).
Fourth element will be a VC10 (RAF Brize Norton) with 2 Jaguars (RAF Coltishall).
Fifth element will be a Nimrod MR2 (RAF Kinloss).
Additionally, 2 Hawks from No 100 Squadron at RAF Leeming will be used for formation whip, photography and weather recce. Should operational commitments preclude the use of either the C-17 or Tristar, the the RAF Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows, will be tasked with the flypast.

The lead aircraft will overfly Buckingham Palace at 1300 hours local (1pm). The spacing between elements of the formation is to be 2nm; the formation airspeed is to be 280kts. The minimum altitude for the flypast route is to be 1,500ft.

Take-off and Landing Bases:
The C-17, Tristar and VC10 will operate from RAF Brize Norton.
The Sentry and Nimrod will operate from RAF Waddington (with the Nimrod returning to Kinloss after the flypast).
The Tornado GR4s, F3s, Jaguars and Hawks will operate from RAF Marham.
The RAF Aerobatic Team will operate from RAF Odiham if tasked.

The flypast route will be:
Southwod (Hold) then
Abeam Colchester then
Abeam Fairlop on to
Buckingham Palace with a right turn (North) to
East of Wormwood Scrubs then
Northwood and dispersal of formation

Taken from RAF website.

Spirit of St Louis crash

A replica of the Spirit of St Louis, appeared to have suffered a structural failure after taking-off at the Coventry Classic Airshow on Saturday 31st May 2003. David Eales, of Air Atlantique which runs the two-day event, said "From what we can see from film and video, the left-hand wing had suffered a failure. It folded back on itself," he said. Eyewitness Paul Middleton, 37, of Colchester, Essex, said: "There were a lot of shocked adults and children. "It started to break up about two minutes after take off. The structure just seemed to give way and disintegrate. "The whole wing folded upwards and as that happened the whole aircraft came falling down. "People just started saying 'oh my God' and then they went silent. Everyone was just standing around." The displays of vintage and classic planes continued following a break after the crash and the two-day event is continuing on Sunday.

The Swedish pilot, 59-year-old Pierre Hollander, was flown by air ambulance to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham, but later died from his injuries. Air accident investigators have been called in. David Eales, of Air Atlantique which runs the two-day event, said Mr Hollander's family had been informed of the tragedy. "Our thoughts are with his wife and family. Air Atlantique is arranging for them to be flown to the UK," he said.

BBC News Report.

Ananover News Report.

The Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) have said that metal fatigue caused cracks in the one of the main wing supports.
BBC News Report.

Hunter crash

A Hawker Hunter F6A jet (XF516) on its way back from Portrush Airshow in Northern Ireland was seen plunging into the Dyfi Estuary near Aberdovey, Wales at around 1515 BST on Sunday 1st June 2003. The pilot, Craig Penrice, fractured two vertebrae after ejecting from the vintage aircraft shortly before the crash. Mr Penrice landed in the water, until he was rescued by an RAF helicopter after around 30 minutes.

Eye witness Martin Fowls was looking out over the estuary when the incident occured. "I noticed the plane, heard a loud bang, saw the pilot eject," he said. "The plane carried on, veered straight up into the sky, then veered straight down and crashed into a field on the other side of the estuary."

BBC News Report.

OFMC LA-9 Arrives

The Old Flying Machine Company (OFMC), based at Duxford, has now received its Lavochkin 9 (LA-9) aircraft (June 2003) which will hopefully be displayed at The Flying Legends Air Show on 12th July - 13th July 2003.

The Old Flying Machine Company aircraft ( serial Number 828 ) flew with the Soviet Air Force before being transferred to the Chinese Air Force in 1950. Taken out of service in the early 60's the aircraft became a technical exhibit at the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where in 1986 negotiations were begun to obtain the aircraft for restoration in the United Kingdom. Following ten years of complex discussion, agreement was finally reached and the aircraft was delivered to Duxford in 1996.

After initial inspection and appraisal the decision was made to ship the aircraft to New Zealand (2001) to be re-built to flying condition by Pioneer Aero Restorations at Auckland's Ardmore Airfield. The engine and propeller were overhauled in the Czech Republic in 2002. The engine re-build was by W. Motor Service, the propeller by Avia and the combination mated to the airframe in New Zealand in January, 2003. Following extensive engine running and systems checking the aircraft was successfully test flown by John Lamont on February 2003.

Further intensive test flying cleared the aircraft for participation at the Auckland Air Show on 8th March 2003.

Old Flying Machine company (OFMC).

Sea Harrier crash

A Sea Harrier FA2 based at RNAS Yeovilton came down a mile off Lee Bay, near Ilfracombe, north Devon. on Wednesday 11th June 2003. The Harrier was on a test flight from RAF St Athan, south Wales, where it had undergone maintenance. The pilot, a 45-year-old instructor, was rescued by an RAF Sea King helicopter from Chivenor, north Devon. He was initially flown with minor injuries to North Devon district hospital in Barnstaple. Divers would be sent down to inspect the wreckage of the Harrier to see if it could be lifted, said the spokesman. "If we can recover all or most of the aircraft, the job of the investigation will be made much easier. It is important to determine what went wrong," said a spokesman. Flight Lieutenant Jon Evans, from New Milton, Hants, the 22 Squadron Sea King pilot who picked up the Harrier airman, said he had told his crew the jet was "in a spin" when he ejected.

BBC News Report.

Sky News Report.

RAF Lyneham to close

The MOD confirms that RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire will close by 2012.

Defence minister Adam Ingram added that the base will remain open until the RAF's Hercules C130K heavy lift fleet goes out of service, but will then close and be sold off unless a new use has been found for it.

The base is home to 50 of the Hercules transport aircraft which will move with their crews to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

If Lyneham were sold for agricultural use, it has previously been estimated to be worth £11.25m. It could also be used to host government departments or the army, or as an industrial site or housing development.

BBC News Report.

Fatal Firefly crash

The Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF) Fairey Firefly crashed at Duxford's Flying Legends Airshow on Saturday 12th July 2003. Both crew members died after it came down away from the airfield, on the eastern side of the M11 at around 1430 BST. Lieutenant Commander Bill Murton, 45, and Neil Rix, 29, were crewing the Fairey Firefly vintage naval aircraft when it came down near the Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire, on the eastern side of the M11 at about 1430 BST on Saturday.

BBC News Report.

Hawk crash

An RAF Hawk crashed in North Yorkshire on 23rd July 2003. The plane came down on a disused railway track at Dawson Wood, near the A170 between Pickering and Sinnington. The pilot ejected from the Hawk, believed to be from RAF Valley, and was taken to hospital in Scarborough by air ambulance. The pilot confirmed that he was alone in the plane.

BBC News Report.

Blenheim Belly-Flop

The Bristol Blenheim belly-flopped at Duxford on 18th August 2003. The two crew escaped injury after the Blenheim developed engine trouble as it came into land at Duxford airfield. It was unclear why the plane's wheels were not deployed but Ted Inman, Duxford's director, said the men were "very fortunate" to have escaped injury.

BBC News Report.

Reds abort at Elvington

The Red Arrows were forced to abort their display at the Elvington Air Show in Yorkshire on Sunday 24th August 2003 after a series of airspace infringements made it too dangerous to fly. A microlight aircraft, a glider and a large flock of birds all strayed into the restricted airspace in addition to one other, as yet, unspecified infringement. The display team were forced to stand-off four miles from the airfield before cancelling their appearance altogether on safety grounds.

Furious air show organiser Ken Cothliff said the Civil Aviation Authority had been informed and the pilots of the rogue aircraft could expect to be prosecuted. He added: "The Red Arrows can probably count on the fingers of one hand how often this has happened in the past." The Red Arrows, based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, were the top attraction at the two-day event which is expected to attract more than 30,000 people.

BBC News Report.

Reds accident at Jersey

A Red Arrows hawk jet came off the runway at Jersey when the display team was landing at lunchtime on Tuesday 9th September 2003. An RAF spokesman said a minor engineering fault could be to blame, but it seems likely the Red Arrow will stay in Jersey while it is repaired by RAF engineers. Eyewitnesses say quick reflexes by the pilot, Flight Lieutenant Jez Griggs, meant the plane hit a gravel bank instead of hitting a nearby farmhouse. Neither the pilot nor his engineer Corporal Harry Harrison were injured. The Red Arrows were there for the forthcoming airshows over Jersey and Guernsey.

BBC News Report.

Concorde Schedule

Concorde retires October 2003 after nearly 35 years of flight and more that 25 years of passenger service, bringing to an end the era of supersonic passenger transportation. British Airways have stated that they intend to "Celebrate Concorde" in the coming months, and attempt to give people through the UK a chance to fly on-board the aircraft, before they are retired to museums.

For the latest news as well as details about the Concorde and a schedule of its last flights before retirement then checkout the website at