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News Archive 7

8th Abingdon Air & Country Show
Ormonde Aircraft Ltd aid BBMF Hurricane reconfiguration
Total respray for Sally B
BBMF Lancaster (new paint scheme)
Tornado GR4 crash
Duxford's Airspace Update (October 2006)
2 Squirrel helicopters collide
Tornado 25th Birthday
Will Concorde fly again?
Team Guinot - now includes photo & links
Royal Air Force Museum Cosford
Sea Vixen's Red Bull Sponsorship comes to an end
The Blades announce tour to the Middle East
Gnat progress at Newark Air Museum
Save the Red Arrows Update
RAF Displays 2007 Update again
Save Flying at Kemble Airfield Petition
RAF Hawk crash
Vulcan XH558 Funding & Falkland Flypast statement
Spirit of Adventure
Glacier Girl
Avro Vulcan XH558 will fly this season
RAF Puma crash
Avro Vulcan XH558 Engine Runs
Hurricane crash at Shoreham Airshow
Gnat XR537
Vulcan - Mid October 2007 Engineering Update
Vulcan flies again
New paint scheme for the Red Arrows
Vulcan - Mid December 2007 Update
Spitfire T8 MT818

Update (October 2006)

Eighteen months after construction began, Laing O'Rourke officially handed over the Airspace building to Imperial War Museum Duxford in early July 2006. The contractor remained until the end of August carring out residual snagging works.

A series of contracts, under the control of the Museum including the accommodation and exhibition fit will take place over the coming months. This includes the staircases and painting the skybridge across the northern end of the building, the fit out of the classrooms, corporate suite and auditorium and installation of the building signage. Once completed, loose furniture will be installed in each of the rooms.

The aircraft installation programme has now been completed and this impressive building will be progressively opened up to visitors over the coming months. It is anticipated that Duxford's Education Department will be able to move into their new teaching rooms on the east side of the building by January 2007 and that the corporate suite will be available for hire from july 2007.

What's on at Duxford 2007

2007 Airshows:
Sunday 20th May - May Air Show
Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th July - Flying Legends Air Show
Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th September - Duxford 2007 Air Show (not 1st & 2nd as previously stated)
Sunday 14th October - Autumn Air Show

Imperial War Museum

8th Abingdon Air & Country Show

After the success of the 2006 Event, the show will take place next year on May 6th 2007 at Abingdon airfield,Oxon using the same tried and tested format of previous years. Note that next year's event will be named 'Abingdon Air & Country Show '. Proceeds from the 2007 event will go to the Thames Valley & Chiltern Air Ambulance. Sponsorship is currently being sought and the organisers can be reached via the website at

Photos from Abingdon Fayre 2006

Vulcan XH558 Funding

From the Vulcan to the Sky website:
The Vulcan to the Sky Trust (VTST) is delighted to announce that after months of searching, funding has been found that will allow completion of the restoration of Avro Vulcan XH558. This means that the striking delta-wing aircraft, the enduring icon of the Cold War that dominates the history of the late 20th century, may now be able to take its place at the centre of the commemoration ceremony that will mark the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict in June next year.

The news that the project can be completed will not only excite the many thousands of Britons who have fond memories of the Vulcan, but will come as a great relief to the team of 30 engineers who have worked tirelessly for the past eighteen months to get the Vulcan back on its own three feet, only to be told earlier in August that if £1.2 million was not raised by the end of the month the project would have to be scrapped. Celebrations of the successful capture of the necessary funds will take place tomorrow at Bruntingthorpe Airfield in Leicester, when the formal announcement of the funding will be made, and XH558 will leave its hangar for the first time since the project began. The Vulcan's undercarriage was only refitted in the past week, and bringing the imposing aircraft back out into the daylight promises to be a momentous occasion, as Sir Michael Knight, Chairman of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, explains:

"The Vulcan to the Sky Trust would like to thank anyone who helped ensure that the Vulcan will fly again, with hundreds of thousands of pounds being donated or pledged That these pledges and donations are for the most part made up of thousands of individual amounts in the £10 to 100 range is testament to the strength of the public's desire to see the Vulcan fly again. That said, I am absolutely delighted to announce today that the project has just received a truly magnanimous donation of £500,000 The team at Bruntingthorpe – and, indeed, the British aviation community – are greatly in his debt.

That splendid news will, I hope, be an encouragement to all who are enthused by this inspiring project – and, indeed, to all of us on the VTST team – to continue our fund-raising efforts for some time yet, if XH558 is to be capable of accepting a pressing invitation to lead the flypast over London to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the South Atlantic conflict in June next year.

Vulcan XH558:

It is hoped that XH558 will be airbourne for a 20 minute handling flight from Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire at the end of May 2007. The Vulcan's first public appearance should be over London on the 17th June 2007 for the 25th anniversary of the South Atlantic conflict and air show appearances may take place at Waddington air show and the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in 2007 if all goes well. XH558 may also appear at a couple of other events before the end of the season. In 2008 there should be a full flying programme of up to 40 hours with displays and flypasts around the UK.

Taken from the TVOC website: Falklands Flypast Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - TVOC

It was our hope that restoration work would have been concluded in time to enable XH558 to participate in the Falklands commemorative events, but we have had a delay in the return of one set of critical-to-flight components from overhaul.

Unfortunately, it is therefore doubtful that XH558 will be flying in time for the Falklands commemoration on 17th June. However all other aspects of the work are proceeding to plan. For example, this week will see the Vulcan's landing gear being reinstalled and the aircraft returned to her wheels.

When we know more about the length and impact of the delay, which will hopefully be short, we will provide a further update.

Dr Robert Pleming CEO, VTST

Daily Mail - Vulcan bomber unlikely to be ready for Falklands anniversary flypast.

Avro Vulcan XH558 will fly this season

Friday, June 15, 2007 - VTST
Vulcan Will Fly in 2007 Airshow Season The Vulcan to the Sky Trust is determined to ensure that XH558 appears at at least one event in the 2007 season. Hundreds of thousands of people from supporters' groups, the media and the general public are champing at the bit to see the iconic bomber fly again, and everyone concerned is understandably frustrated that the timetable to first flight seems to keep extending.

Engineers at the Vulcan's base in Leicestershire have been working literally around the clock for the last three months, with four night shifts per week and fifteen plus hour days not being uncommon. The hard work has paid-off: XH558 is standing on her own landing gear again, with the airframe approaching completion. The elevons, rudder, bomb bay doors, electrical systems and engines having been successfully refitted. Full electrical power has now been returned to the aircraft and testing is progressing apace. It has therefore been a huge disappointment to everyone involved that they are now left waiting for the last dozen or so critical components that will allow reconstruction to be completed and flight testing to begin. Arrival of these parts will trigger a chain of final tasks resulting in first flight as soon as three weeks later.

It is worth remembering that the Vulcan to the Sky project is the first ever attempt to return a 'complex' rated aircraft to flight. As such, many rules, regulations and guidelines have been exercised for the first time as the project progresses. But progress it does and after three years of extremely hard work, the finishing line is now (agonisingly) close.

Vulcan to the Sky wishes to thank everyone who has helped the project since its inception and especially the members of the Vulcan to the Sky Club , and the "Friends " of VTST for their loyal support. The return of XH558 is now not a question of if, but when. How long she remains in the air is dependent on the success of current efforts to sign up a commercial sponsor willing to take advantage of the biggest flying billboard ever made, and the continuing financial generosity of the public.

Dr R Pleming

Avro Vulcan XH558 Engine Runs

Mid August 2007 Engineering Update
Vulcan Will Fly in 2007 Airshow Season From the TVOC website:

This week has seen us reach the final stage of the functional phase GROUND RUNS!

So where shall I start, Monday (13.8.07) saw the beginning of yet another busy and momentous week. All of the fuels checks have now been completed, the make up pieces have been fitted to the engines and panelling up ready for ground runs. The flying control friction checks are complete and the mammoth task of setting them up as started. The original radome is also back on just in time for us to take XH558 for a little walk.

Thursday saw us down on the running pan where we took the engines through a range of dry and wet starts (basically turning the engines over to lubricate them and check all the right things get to the right places!). With the finale of the day starting No3 engine, this is the first time the engine had been run in over 20 years. Friday then became the big day where we have now started all four engines and the AAPP.

So next week we will be carrying on with the ground runs and the setting up of the flying controls, so bye for now.

Mid October 2007 Engineering Update (13.10.07)
From the TVOC website:

Are we now beginning to achieve the un-achievable!

Ah well the end of another long week of functional set ups and paperwork, so where shall I begin?

Most of this week has been taken up with the set up and independent checks on the Flying Controls which was finally completed in the early hours of Thursday morning. With the last of the functionals complete the aircraft can be finally panelled up for good!

The final preparations are also being carried out such as fitting the Brake Parachute and servicing the aircraft (topping up all the gases etc) ready to hand over to the aircrew for the ground handling checks, these will consist of general handling, a slow taxi, a medium taxi and a fast taxi run taken over several days. Only when these have been carried out and the aircrew are happy with the aircraft will first flight be considered.

The later part of the week saw 558 outside a couple of times, Thursday the aircraft was pushed just outside the hangar to be refuelled ready for the taxi tests and for the aircrew to have some familiarisation time on the new systems as well as brushing up on the old! Friday morning saw 558 taken out to the runway to show her where it is and to carry out a confidence compass swing to ensure the compasses are pointing in the general direction!

Of course the majority of the week has been taken up with clearing the remaining 250 work cards. With most of the cards cleared and the remaining cards put in as a limitation on the aircraft, 558 was released to the aircrew late on Friday afternoon to carry out the first of the taxi trials.

So around tea-break on Friday afternoon XH558 moved off the engine running pan under her own power and made her way to the runway, whilst on the runway she made a couple of slow taxi runs up and down the runway before being handed back to the ground crew to be towed back in.

As we now have a serviceable aircraft, we are beginning to achieve the un-achievable and next week will see us hopefully completing the rest of the paperwork along with the runs and all that will remain then is the authority to take to the air!!! taken from TVOC website:

Vulcan flies again

After years of restoration, Vulcan XH558 has taken to the skies again after 14 years. XH558 took off from Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire at 12:27hrs on Thursday 18th October 2007 on a short local flight to cheers from the watching supporters, sponsors and engineers.

Just over 20 minutes later, to widespread relief, co-pilots McDicken and David Thomas landed it back on the Leicestershire airstrip.

"What a statement for those people who made that aircraft all those years ago," Squadron Leader McDicken said. "It's 25 years almost to the day that I last flew one. It was just wonderful."

Dr Robert Pleming, chief executive of the Vulcan to the Sky Trust, said he felt a "huge sense of achievement" at finally getting the plane off the ground. "We finally did it after so many ups and downs," he said. "It's the British bulldog spirit."

BBC - Vulcan bomber returns to the sky

BBC - Video clip of Vulcan bomber taking off at Bruntingthorpe Airfield.

Vulcan to the sky website

The Register

Vulcan December 2007 update

It's now two months since the spectacular first test flight of the re-born Vulcan XH558. The media coverage was widespread and totally enthusiastic; this unique success has captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

The Vulcan is well-and-truly back!

Looking to the future: our now-airworthy XH558 has to carry out two further 3-hour test flights, and a compass-swing, to complete the certification activities yielding the Permit-to-Fly. Given the weather at this time of year, and other scheduling constraints, we are progressing slowly, but with an ongoing schedule of servicing and testing to keep the aircraft in top condition.

We are beginning to think about the Vulcan's air display appearance schedule for 2008: we will make good on our promises to take the aircraft to the people. We are actively discussing arrangements with air display and outside event organisers, and are delighted with their responses.

Alongside our engineering and operational activities, I'm delighted at the launch of our new Educational programme. Under the leadership of Miriam Tong, VTST's Education Manager, we are announcing a range of educational offerings, initially targeted at local primary schools, which will see young people learning from the design, engineering and history of the Vulcan. We're really excited about the inspirational messages that we will bring to a new generation of the young, who have never before seen the Vulcan in flight. (Please contact us if you want to find out more.)

Turning now to our finances, we are currently living a hand-to-mouth existence. The additional costs arising from lengthy delays in reaching first test flight have pushed us right to the limit. If it was not for the goodwill of many of our suppliers, we would have had to "call it a day" shortly after first test flight due to external factors. We have taken sensible decisions in paring our costs back to the core whilst retaining our operational capabilities, but that still leaves us with the need to raise £60,000 per month just to remain viable. Any additional activity, such as actually flying the aircraft, requires us to raise substantially more cash.

So what are we doing? On the fund-raising side, at the start of the New Year you'll see some initiatives to find new supporters, and to stimulate additional donations and merchandise sales. We hope that our existing list of 25,000 donors will be keen to safeguard their investments in XH558 by making further donations; we remain totally reliant on this donation flow to keep us going until the sponsorship revenue stream commences.

On the sponsorship side, our potential sponsors are delighted that the first flight has generated so much national and international interest and media coverage, and that all questions about our credibility and ability to deliver have been silenced. We are now working to cultivate a number of opportunities. Given the size of the amounts under discussion and the current economic uncertainties, decision timescales are likely to stretch well into 2008.

Ormonde Aircraft Ltd aid BBMF Hurricane reconfiguration

During the last week of September a small team of engineers from Ormonde Aircraft Ltd travelled to RAF Coningsby, Lincs to deliver the latest set of engine exhaust stubs for aircraft on the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight [BBMF]. Led by company owner Alan Purdy, the team travelled from their facility at Tollerton, Notts with a full set of flame damper style of exhaust stubs for installation on the BBMF's Hurricane II, PZ865 'Night Reaper'.

Ormonde Aircraft engineers had fabricated the set of hand formed flame damper exhaust stubs [originally developed for day and night fighter operations] to the exacting standards specified by the BBMF. The exhaust stubs have been carefully formed using original patterns to ensure the correct shape and performance are maintained and they are a common design for both Hurricanes and Spitfires with the same part number.

Once installed on PZ865 the exhaust stubs were subjected to both ground running and flight trials to ensure emissions / recorded cockpit gas levels were within specification and permitted operational levels. Now fitted the exhaust stubs have also allowed Hurricane II, PZ865 to be returned to its original configuration when manufactured at Langley, Bucks in the summer of 1944.

Squadron Leader Al Pinner, OC BBMF took PZ865 up for a test flight with her new cans fitted and after he made the following comments, "She looks and sounds fantastic. It is great that she looks authentic again and the cockpit noise is down to a much more comfortable level - a delight to fly."

Other projects recently undertaken by Ormonde Aircraft Ltd for the BBMF includes: fuel tank overhauls; oil tank repairs; fabrication of exhaust stubs for Lancaster I PA474 and Spitfire XVI TE311.

"We are very proud that our company has been selected to do work for the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, especially on a project that has helped the Hurricane to be returned to its original configuration as built back in 1944." commented Ormonde Aircraft's Alan Purdy. He concluded, "Projects like this are part of the reason why we are also currently looking to recruit more experienced aircraft sheet metal workers to the company."

Click for larger image
Hurricane PZ865 with Squadron Leader
Al Pinner, OC BBMF at the controls returns
after her test flight with the new 'cans' fitted.
[Credit – Ormonde Aircraft Ltd]
Click for larger image
Engineers from Ormonde Aircraft watch
the new exhaust stubs being fitted
to BBMF Hurricane PZ865.
[Credit - Howard Heeley - Down To Earth Promotions]
Click for larger image
New exhaust stubs fitted to BBMF
Hurricane PZ865.
[Credit - Howard Heeley - Down To Earth Promotions]
Click for larger image
New exhaust stubs fitted to BBMF
Hurricane PZ865.
[Credit - Howard Heeley - Down To Earth Promotions]

In addition to full scale aircraft rebuild / restoration projects Ormonde Aircraft Limited have extensive experience in parts fabrication and airframe structural work, including: Fuel/oil tanks; Spinners; Canopy refurbishment; Wing spars; Exhaust stubs; Ailerons; Elevators; Cowling fasteners and assorted machined parts.

Ormonde Aircraft Limited have worked on and produced parts for the following aircraft types: Auster Aiglet; Chipmunk; Gladiator; Hurricane; Lancaster; Seafire; Spitfires.

Team Guinot

The Aerosuperbatics Wingwalking Team which has been sponsored by 'Utterly Butterly' is to get a new sponsor for the 2007 season. The new sponsor, 'Guinot', which is a skincare company is looking for new ways to drive customers into their salons and see the wingwalking team as an ideal opportunity to promote their skincare products to a wide audience.

Team Guinot will operate four Guinot branded Boeing Stearman biplanes and will be looking for two new wingwalkers to train up ready for the 2007 airshow season. Application forms will be available in Guinot salons across the UK and Ireland and finalists from each region will be selected to compete for the job in March of next year.

Team leader, Vic Norman said, "Our wingwalkers face such extreme conditions that quality skincare is essential so we are looking forward to promoting Guinot to our many spectators."

Tony Robson, chairman of R Robson, Guinot's UK distributor, said of the sponsorship, "Aerosuperbatics have come up with many exciting ideas to get our message over to the public and to keep Guinot's position as a leading skincare brand in the UK and Ireland over the next few years. And so we are very much looking forward to a long, close and mutually beneficial partnership."

Skincare specialists Guinot are sponsoring four wingwalking biplanes and the team needs TWO NEW WINGWALKERS to join full time professionals Sarah Tanner and Lucy Foster.

Click for larger image
Team Guinot colours
Click for larger image
Team Guinot Aircraft - photo courtesy
of Martyn Carrington (AeroSuperbatics)

Aerosuperbatics Wingwalking Team - Team Guinot

Team Guinot wingwalkers

Guardian article

Southport Reporter article

Learn to wingwalk with aerial display Team Guinot!

Utterly Butterly website

Total respray for Sally B

The UK's only remaining B-17 Flying Fortress, Sally B, has been given a new lease of life by Air Livery at Southend

The B-17 has been in need of a new paint job for some time, but with money always tight, and with the ongoing fight to change new EU insurance laws that grounded the aircraft in 2005, there have simply not been sufficient funds.

But now, at the end of another busy season - highlighted by Sally B's special visit to Poland to commemorate the 62nd Anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising - a good friend, Adrian Tucker (Managing Director of Air Livery), rang B-17 Operator Elly Sallingboe, saying that, if the aircraft could be brought to Southend immediately, he would offer a very special price for a complete respray. Within four days the aircraft was flown to Southend.

On Sunday 17th September, Sally B arrived at Air Livery's premises. There, she was stripped back to bare metal, primed and resprayed in the same colour scheme as before, complete with Sally B and "Memphis Belle" nose art.

Sally B Homepage

BBMF Lancaster

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) Lancaster is to undergo a £500,000 maintenance overhaul under contract with Atlantic Airmotive Ltd. This will enable the Lancaster to continue to grace the skies until the next maintenance period is due in around eight years time. The work will include a new paint scheme and replacing the aircraft's flying control rods. It should take around six months and be completed by the end of March 2007. The work will take place over the winter (2006) at Atlantic's base, Coventry Airport.

BBMF website

Tornado GR4 crash

A Tornado GR4 from RAF Marham crashed at 1100 BST on Tuesday 24th October 2006 at the Holbeach Range in The Wash. Both crew safely ejected and were picked up from the sea by Sea King helicopters from the Wattisham Army Base and RAF Leconfield. They were then taken to a hospital in King's Lynn with spinal injuries which were not thought to be life threatening.

Air Commodore Greg Bagwell, from RAF Marham, said: "I've spoken to the crew and they're fine. "We've already set up an inquiry that will go through the full process to establish the reasons and causes of the crash and we will act upon that."

Holbeach Range is north of Holbeach and is used as a bombing range by Tornados, Harriers and Jaguar aircraft.

Cause of crash is possibly due to multiple bird strikes.

BBC News Website

2 Squirrel helicopters collide

Two Squirrel helicopters collided at an airfield in Ternhill near Market Drayton in Shropshire, at about 3pm on 10th january 2007. The Squirrel aircraft were from the Defence Helicopter Flying School, based at RAF Shawbury. One man died and another three were injured.

RAF Shawbury is the centre for Basic and Advanced Helicopter training for the Army Air Corps, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Students who have passed the initial training on 'fixed wing' aircraft, are given instruction on the Squirrel helicopter.

The incident occurred over RAF Tern Hill airfield. The airfield is used as a relief landing ground for RAF Shawbury and is a favourite training area for students and instructors on the pilots courses.

BBC website

Sky News website

RAF Displays 2007

Changes are taking place in how the Royal Air Force will display its aircraft at events in 2007. There will be a change of emphasis away from displaying aerobatics and performance to the operational capability of front-line types. At large shows and seafront displays, multi-ship demos including both air and ground assets showing a cross-section of aircraft types representing the roles that are undertaken by the RAF during current operations will take place along with a full commentary. However, apart from the multi-role demos, solo displays will also be available to airshow organisers in 2007 depending on where the RAF can gain best coverage for recruiting and PR purposes.

There is likely to be RAF solo displays of the Typhoon, Hawk T1 (208(R) Sqn & 100 Sqn), Tucano T1, and Tutor T1. It is also hoped that a Harrier will be available but due to heavy operational commitment and Royal Navy pilot conversion to the GR7/GR9 this may not happen. Also the C-130J Hercules has heavy operational commitments which caused cancellation to events at the end of 2006 and this will also affect the RAF Falcons parachute team. There may not be a solo display of the Tornado GR4 because of its use in the role demos.

RAF Leuchars featured RAF demos in 2006 involving multiple aircraft, and airfield attacks using pyrotechnics which proved to be a success. However it remains to be seen if the RAF can supply enough air assets at large events in 2007 to create the best effect. It is also unknown if oversea participation at smaller and medium size events, by the RAF, will lose out due to the changes taking place.

Biggin Hill International Air Fair 2007 on 2-3 June will see the first of the new multi-role demos by the Royal Air Force. Kemble Air Day has also been chosen to host one of the RAF's new multi-role demos.

There will be a special paint scheme for the Tucano T1 for the 2007 airshow season. The solo display Tucano T1 is flown by Flight Lieutenant Bobby Moore.

Display Tucano T1 - computer generated special paint scheme for 2007 season.
Click picture to see special paint scheme for the Display Tucano T1 for the 2007 season. This is a computer generated impression of what the aircraft should look like.

Update on the RAF's new Multi-role Demos:

The new RAF multi-role demos will take place at the following venues in 2007:

Spirit of Adventure (Abingdon) – 26-27 May 07
Biggin Hill – 2-3 Jun 07
Cosford – 10 Jun 07
Kemble – 17 Jun 07
Waddington – 30 Jun – 1 Jul 07
Fairford – 14-15 Jul 07
Spirit of Adventure (Kinross) – 25-26 May 07

The demo will last approximately 25 minutes and will represent real RAF air power roles such as air defence, offensive support, ISTAR, troop insertion and close air support. Narrative and special effects will assist in bringing the scenario to life, as seen at Leuchars last year but on a far larger scale. The scenario will be delivered by 2 identical teams made up of the following assets:

x2 Tornado F3s (+1 spare), No 43(F) Sqn or No 25 Sqn (depending on venue)
x2 Tornado GR4s (+1 spare), No 13 Sqn
x2 Hawks, No 100 Sqn
x1 E3-D, No 8 Sqn
x1 C-130, No 30 Sqn
x1 Chinook, No 18 Sqn

There will be various ground troops and plenty of pyrotechnics.

The RAF Falcons, Red Arrows, and BBMF will be displaying in 2007 with a similar number of appearances as in 2006.

Solo display aircraft with a similar number of appearances as last year include the Tutor, Tucano, Hawk (No 208 Sqn) and Typhoon.

The Tornado F3, Tornado GR4, Hawk (No 100 Sqn) and C-130J will not be displaying in 2007 as solo display aircraft.

Unfortunately it has been announced that the RAF Merlin HC3 display has been withdrawn from the airshow circuit for 2007 but may hopefully still appear in the static display.

There will not be a Harrier display either as a solo display or as part of a multi-role demo in 2007.

Official explanation for withdrawl of RAF Merlin HC3 from flying display for 2007

The Merlin HC Mk3 Display of 2006 flown by Flight Lieutenant Dempster was immensely popular and a significant attraction for the general public and aviation enthusiasts alike at shows up and down the country. It demonstrated in superlative style the agility of the aircraft and the impressive skills of the aircrews and groundcrews who fly them and maintain them. It was always my intention to provide a Merlin Display for 2007 and indeed we had made considerable progress with the vital pre-season preparation.

The announcement by the Secretary of State for Defence on the purchase of 6 Danish Merlins to augment the UK Fleet has, however, necessitated a reprioritisation of resources to meet the introduction into service of these additional aircraft and much of the responsibility falls on 28(AC) Squadron. Simply put, there was considerable doubt as to whether we could support the Merlin Display without a significant number of late notice cancellations and thus public disappointment. I therefore made the decision to withdraw the Merlin from the display season but in order to afford the public the opportunity to see the aircraft up close it is my intention, whenever possible, to provide an aircraft for static displays at the larger shows.

For now the Squadron continues to deliver operational success in Iraq and we are looking forward to introducing the new variant into service - you never know, it may be on next year's Display Season!

Wing Commander Richard K Luck MA MCGI MRAes RAF
Officer Commanding 28 (Army Co-operation) Squadron
Royal Air Force

RAF page

RAF website

Tornado 25th Birthday

It is 25 years since the Tornado entered service with the Royal Air Force on January 6th 1982. The first operational Tornado GR1 Squadron (IX Sqn) was based at RAF Honington in Suffolk.

The latest version is the Tornado GR4 and is the Royal Air Force's primary attack aircraft equipping seven front-line squadrons at RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, and RAF Marham, Norfolk.

RAF website

Will Concorde fly again?

As many will know, there is a campaign to return a Concorde back to flight. The 'Save Concorde Group' who have a website at which includes a petition, and says in its mission statement 'SCG is campaigning to return Concorde to flight. This will enable the Great British public to enjoy witnessing the ongoing celebration of one of the greatest engineering achievements in the history of this country. It would also be a living tribute to cooperation between European nations in the post-war era, and could be timed to coincide with the celebrations for the London Olympics in 2012.'

On 10th January 2007, during a House of Commons debate, John Randall (Conservative MP for Uxbridge), said 'That leave be given to bring in a Bill to make provision for the establishment of a scheme to promote the maintenance and preservation of certain vehicles of cultural value; and for connected purposes.' He went on to say 'The Bill has its roots in the well-supported campaign to ensure the preservation and, I hope, maintenance of a Concorde in a suitably airworthy condition to enable it to be flown on what might loosely be called ceremonial occasions.' and 'many would like at least one Concorde to be restored to an airworthy condition, in a similar manner to the battle of Britain memorial flight, and would hope for it to be ready to fly in time for the 2012 Olympics.' The full statement can be found here.

The British Concorde airframes were sold off to museums and collections around the world following its retirement in 2003. None are airworthy, and the ex-British Airways aircraft are in a worse state than the French ones, especially because of the decision by British Airways to order that all hydraulic pipes be drained and the electrical systems disabled on its seven Concordes. Meanwhile, France has actually kept a Concorde in perfect condition which is maintained and hoped will one day take to the skies again - see BBC video.

Save Concorde group

House of Commons debate

BBC video

Concorde website

Concorde's career (BBC)

Royal Air Force Museum Cosford

All the exhibits are in place, the Hot Spots ready for action and the doors open to the public at the Royal Air Force Museum Cosford on Thursday 8th February.

Before the public opening there will be a Royal opening on Wednesday 7th February by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal (VIP event only).

Chairman, Air Chief Marshal Sir John Day KCB OBE , says 'The Royal Air Force Museum is a vibrant museum, which is always evolving. It not only encapsulates the Royal Air Force's past, but it also reflects the present and looks forward to the future. It holds an important position for the Royal Air Force as well as for the aviation industry. I look forward to my tenure as Chairman and hope to contribute to the Museum's ever increasing successes."

Visitors to Cosford are advised that the Museum will be closed prior to the opening of the Cold War exhibition between Monday 5th and Wednesday 8th February 2007, inclusive.

Royal Air Force Museum Cosford website

Save the Red Arrows

The RAF Red Arrows International Display Team is being considered as part of a review of military spending, the Ministry of Defence confirmed. The costs of all MoD activities are examined on a regular basis and the Red Arrows whose budget was scheduled to rise from £5.2 million to £5.6 million next year is no exception. The Ministry of Defence confirmed the Red Arrows have been included in the cost-cutting review, despite previous assurances that their future was safe until at least 2010, when the aircraft will need replacing.

Liberal Democrat spokesman Nick Harvey said the Red Arrows "are a public display of Britain's military pride and skill". "Were they to be axed, we would lose one of the great ambassadors and showcases for our country." and Tory MP Gerald Howarth said: "The Red Arrows are a hugely valuable advertisement for the professionalism of the RAF and British industry. They are fantastic ambassadors for the UK overseas. The value of that far exceeds the cost of their funding."It is inconceivable that they should be axed. The real villain is Gordon Brown, who has no understanding of the military and has starved them of the resources necessary to carry out Tony Blair's military expeditions."

Save the Red Arrows Update

E-petition: response from the Prime Minister - News Release

Red Arrows

The e-petition asking the Prime Minister to "continue funding for the Royal Air Force Aerobatics Team - The Red Arrows" is on-going. This is a response in advance of the closing date from the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Thank you for signing the petition on the No.10 website calling for the maintenance of the Red Arrows. It is a sign of the place they hold in the national affections that so many people have joined you in signing it - one of the highest numbers since the e-petition service began. That's why I wanted to reply personally. It's also why I am replying before the petition officially closes, in order to reassure people who are clearly concerned.

I am pleased to be able to give you good news. There are no plans to change the funding for the Red Arrows, let alone to disband them.

It is important, of course, that the MOD looks at the full range of its spending plans as part of its routine financial planning, to ensure that taxpayers' money is spent where our Armed Forces most need it. Obviously it is this review which prompted fears that the Red Arrows might be scrapped.

However, like you, the Government recognises just what an important role the Red Arrows play in our national life. As the world's premier aerobatic team, they have thrilled millions of spectators over many years. I was lucky enough to see their extraordinary skills myself only last year at the Farnborough Air Show.

More importantly, the Red Arrows have maintained public support for the Royal Air Force, encouraged recruitment, acted as ambassadors for Britain in the world and promoted British industry for many years. So I am pleased to assure you that this government fully intends to keep the Red Arrows flying.

Thank you for signing this petition, and I hope you get a chance to see the Red Arrows yourself soon.

Yours sincerely, Tony Blair

Sea Vixen's Red Bull Sponsorship comes to an end

The sponsorship of the D.H. Sea Vixen FAW2 (XP924/G-CVIX) by 'Red Bull' has now come to an end. The Sea Vixen has been painted in 'Red Bull' colours since 2003 and will now return to its former Royal Navy colours that it carried during its time in the Fleet Air Arm service.

Thanks to the sponsorship of 'Red Bull', many have seen the Sea Vixen fly at various airshows over the last few years and now Bournmouth based De Havilland Aviation, who own the aircraft, are now looking for a new sponsor for the future.

The Blades announce tour to the Middle East

The Blades aerobatic display team have announced a two month tour to the Middle East. The deployment will be the Team's first tour outside Europe and their first time ever they display publicly as the new team of four former Red Arrows comprising Andy Offer, Dave Slow, Andy Evans and Myles Garland.

The Team will be based in the Kingdom of Bahrain from the middle of March to the middle of May and will be known as 'The Blades in Bahrain'. Two of the high-performance Extra 300 LPs have already left their base in Sywell to start their 3000 mile journey.

The aircraft are being taken apart at Wycombe Air Park with the separate components strapped into purpose built containers and flown by freight. Amongst other tasks the wings will be taken off the fuselage, tightly packed to allow no movement, and loaded on to the cargo aircraft. It will take a total of three weeks to build the containers, dismantle the aircraft and then rebuild them. The boxed Extras will leave the United Kingdom on the 21st February and will be met in Bahrain on 23rd February by Blade 4 Myles Garland. Subject to weather the remaining two aircraft are flying out of Sywell to Wycombe Air Park on Tuesday 13th February at 1600 hrs.

"We're obviously taking a lot of care moving the aircraft" said Myles Garland. "There'll be thorough packing here in the UK and I'll fly out to Bahrain to supervise the off-loading and take them through customs. Three engineers will then fly out to join me and we will start putting them back together to fly in early March."

2 Excel Aviation Limited has created a strategic alliance with Magnum Events and Exhibitions Management (MEEM) to provide the same services they provide in the UK to the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Capitalizing on the exceptional skills and heritage of the Team, the Blades will provide awe-inspiring public and private displays; opportunities to fly in the front seat of their Extra 300s; and the chance to use the display team's exceptional capabilities as a marketing and communications tool. They will display at a number of high profile events including the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix – the third FIA Formula One race of 2007.

Pictures of the aircraft being taken apart are below: There will also be a diary from the pilots during their visit on

We took off the turtle deck in order to remove the wings and tailplanes.

We then put the turtle deck back on and put the aircraft on 20ft crates. You can see they are at angles and the spats are off too. They are tightly strapped down to their chocks which in turn are nail-gunned to the crates.

The aircraft are full of other gear we need to take too and we wrap them in cling film so animals can not get in during transit.

The tailplanes are then packed in to boxes and strapped under the aircraft on the crates.

The wings are taken in four separate 30ft boxes.

We also needed to take off the spinner in order to make the crate 18 inches smaller so they can fit on the Jumbo 747.

We used Universal Packing to make and pack the boxes and crates but the pilots and engineers obviously helped along the way. We are using DHL to transport the aircraft.

They leave for Amsterdam today on a lorry which is obviously the most dangerous part of the journey. They have 36 hours on the ground for security processing and they fly to Bahrain on Friday where Myles Garland (Blade 4) will be there to meet them.

'The Blades' aerobatic display team Press Release. - Blades drop in full throttle to 3rd Round of Grand Prix ...

Gnat progress at Newark Air Museum - March 2nd 2007

During the last week further significant progress has been made in the reassembly of Folland Gnat T.1 XR534 [8578M] at Newark Air Museum. Most recently the tail fin has been re-fitted to the fuselage and this work has been complimented by the location and fitting in of around 40 [forty] access plates and panels.

The aircraft, which is listed in the 'Significant' category of the National Aviation Heritage Register, arrived at the museum in December 2000. The purchase of the Gnat was made possible thanks to 50% grant from the PRISM Fund and a series of donations from museum members and the general public. The PRISM Grant Fund is now administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council [MLA].

When retired from service in December 1977 this particular Gnat airframe was allocated as a gate guardian to RAF Valley on Anglesey. In recent months much of the in-depth restoration work undertaken by the museum volunteers has centred on the removal and replacement of heavily corroded structures deep within the airframe. It is believed that much of this corrosion was caused by the harsh sea air at RAF Valley, a fact highlighted by the removal of sand from some internal sections of the fuselage.

The Gnat is another niche airframe in Newark Air Museum's diverse collection of Royal Air Force training aircraft.

Click for larger image Click for larger image
Gnat XR534 – on its own wheels and with the tail fin now fitted.
Photo Credits: Howard Heeley - Down To Earth Promotions.

Save Flying at Kemble Airfield

Kemble Airfield will be served with an enforcement order to stop illegal flying. Cotswold District Council says many aircraft using Kemble Airfield are unauthorised and its planning committee voted to clamp down. Lee Paulo, of Kemble Air Services, said they would seek compensation. Our existing rights of use are more than adequate and appropriate.

We've provided a range of proofs associated with historic activities taking place. The airfield's been there since 1945 and we're not anywhere near the level of activity then." This will affect all GA activity on site including my flying school. If this goes ahead then my flying lessons will stop and the flying schools will move elsewhere. It has been a dream of mine (i'm 16 at the moment) to be a pilot and fly for delta jets which are a aircraft company that operate vintage jets as a passion (it's not cheap).

This all started because of a family complaining about noise at the airfield, my point is why live there in the first place if you know there's an airfield there. ANOTHER POINT IS THAT WHEN I FLY IN THE GENERAL CIRCUIT THERE ARE MANY NOISE ABANDMENT AREAS OF VILLAGES THAT YOU CAN'T FLY OVER MAKING IT MORE COMPLICATED TO COMPLETE THE CIRCUIT. (by David Sayce)


Click here to sign the petition at

RAF Hawk crash

An RAF Hawk T1 crashed at Mona Airfield, which is eight miles away from the RAF Valley base, at 1225 BST on Friday 20th April 2007.

The pilot ejected safely although details of the pilot's injuries were not yet known. Only one person was in the aircraft.

Dennis Morris, 68, who lives near the crash site, told the BBC news website he heard a noise "like a horrendous car crash with the screeching of metal" and looked out of the window to see a jet had crashed and broken into two. He rushed outside and saw the pilot had landed in some trees and his seat had landed in a nearby field.

BBC Website

Spirit of Adventure

The all new Spirit of Adventure event showcasing the RAF which was to feature an interactive movie on giant screens, live music, extreme sports demonstrations and activities, with one of the new multi-role demo displays, was hit badly by the weather and had to cancel its second day at Abingdon in Oxfordshire on the weekend of 26th-27th May 2007 according to the official website at

From the Spirit of Adventure website:

SUNDAY 27TH MAY 2007 07:40


Following advice from the Met Office on the likely weather conditions today, the decision has been made to cancel today's Spirit of Adventure at Dalton Barracks, Abingdon.

Poor weather conditions, including the likelihood of substantial heavy rain and low cloud all day, would have a major bearing on the safety of the flying programme on the second day of the event and the decision therefore has been taken before the majority of show-goers leave home.

The organisers regret the late notice of this decision however the event organisers were unable to reach this decision until just after dawn this morning following a weather update from the Met Office.



Media enquiries to: Sue Harris, 0777 568 5376 or Steve Willmot, 07801 365850

There is another Spirit of Adventure scheduled to take place at Balado Park, Kinross, Perthshire in Scotland on 25th-26th August 2007.


The Spirit of Adventure scheduled to take place at Balado Park, Kinross, Perthshire in Scotland on 25th-26th August 2007 has also been cancelled although no official reason has been given.

Ticket sales prior to Spirit of Adventure at Abingdon amounted to 212 and 2,222 visitors attended on the day which is well short of the 50,000 visitors expected for each day.

BBC Website - Spirit of Adventure cancellation

Glacier Girl

Philadelphia, PA (May 24,2007)—On July 15, 1942, a United States Army/Air Force Squadron departed American soil on Operation Bolero, a World War II aid mission to support U.S. allies in the war torn European theatre. Due to insurmountable weather-related problems en route, the entire squadron of six P-38s and two B-17 Bombers was forced to abort its mission and make an emergency landing on a remote ice cap in Greenland. "The Lost Squadron," as it has become known over time, drifted miles from its original location and only one P-38, encased in 268 feet of ice, was salvaged.

A recovery and restoration mission taking more than ten years and costing over a million dollars brought this legendary P-38 Lightning, now known as Glacier Girl, to her original flying glory. On June 23, 2007, Glacier Girl will finally complete her fabled World War II transatlantic mission when she departs from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey bound for Duxford, England.

"This monumental flight will bring closure to Operation Bolero as well as pay homage to the brave aviators who beat the odds to survive certain death on that polar ice cap in Greenland during World War II," said pilot Steve Hinton, who will fly Glacier Girl in her transatlantic flight in June. "It's thrilling to be a part of this historic event."

Dubbed Operation Bolero II, after the original WWII operation, the mission remains as challenging as it is historic. Glacier Girl will be accompanied by the P-51 Mustang Miss Velma, a vintage WWII U.S. war bird that will be flown by air show legend Ed Shipley. The P-51 will be equipped with Wingspeed Corporation's satellite-based aircraft communications technology that will allow anyone on the ground to communicate with the pilots via email communications and receive answers from the cockpit while the planes are in flight. Wingspeed's network will also allow real time tracking of Glacier Girl's historic journey exclusively at, a new social networking and user-generated/content-sharing Web site for aviation enthusiasts.

"It's an honor to be Steve's wingman as we trace the same flight path that Glacier Girl flew over 60 years ago," said Shipley, US Air Force Heritage Flight pilot and founder of "Wingspeed's cutting edge communications technology will allow us to chat with enthusiasts from anywhere on the globe while we're in flight, so the world can experience this with us."

After landing, Glacier Girl will remain in Duxford for the renowned

Flying Legends Air Show on July 7 and 8, where she will be featured alongside an impressive line-up of over 50 aircraft from both the WWI and WWII era. Glacier Girl will then return to the U.S. for EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, WI, where she will fly the U.S. Air Force Heritage Flight.

Unfortunately, it appears that the P-38 (Glacier Girl ) will not now arrive at Duxford for the Flying Legends Airshow as it has coolant problems, however the P-51 (Miss Velma) is still due to take part at Duxford's Flying Legends airshow.

Glacier Girl and Miss Velma Scheduled Stops
Jun 16, 2007 1st Leg Chino, CA
Jun 21, 2007 2nd Leg Middlesboro, KY
Jun 22, 2007 3rd Leg Teterboro, NJ
Jun 23, 2007 4th Leg Presque Isle, ME
Jun 25, 2007 5th Leg Goose Bay, Labrador, NL
Jun 25, 2007 6th Leg Frobisher Bay, NU
Jun 27, 2007 7th Leg Kangerlussuaq, GL
Jun 27, 2007 8th Leg Kulusuk, GL
Jun 29, 2007 9th Leg Reykjvik, IS
Jun 29, 2007 10th Leg Stornoway, GB
Jul 07-08, 2007 Flying Legends Duxford, Cambridgeshire, GB
Jul 09, 2007 11th Leg Duxford, Cambridgeshire, GB
Jul 09, 2007 12th Leg Stornoway, GB
Jul 10, 2007 13th Leg Reykjvik, IS
Jul 10, 2007 14th Leg Kulusuk, GL
Jul 11, 2007 15th Leg Kangerlussuaq, GL
Jul 11, 2007 16th Leg Frobisher Bay, NU
Jul 12, 2007 17th Leg Goose Bay, Labrador, NL
Jul 12, 2007 18th Leg Bangor, ME
Jul 12, 2007 Final Destination Oshkosh, WI
*Schedule subject to change
The Fighter Collection

The Lost Squadron


RAF Puma crash

An RAF Puma from 33 Sqn, RAF Benson, crashed near Catterick, North Yorkshire, on Wednesday 8 August 2007, at 8:20 pm, whilst taking part in a routine training exercise.

Tragically two fatalities were confirmed at the scene. Both from 33 Squadron, Royal Air Force Benson. There were 12 personnel on board including three aircrew from Royal Air Force Benson and the nine rear passengers were soldiers from 1 Brigade, Infantry Training Battalion, Catterick. Those injured in the crash were taken to hospitals in Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Darlington and Northallerton.

Eyewitness Andrew Pavey spoke of how he had seen the helicopter rise into the air, "making a hell of a racket". He said: "This helicopter went onto its side and then shot off. I didn't hear [any] bangs or [anything]. "I didn't see [any] flames or anything like that at all." The cause of the accident is still unknown. A full investigation is now in progress. BBC Website

Hurricane crash at Shoreham Airshow

A Hurricane crashed at the Shoreham Airshow in West Sussex on Saturday 15th September 2007 (Battle of Britain Day) at 1520BST.

The single-seat Hurricane Mk.XII [5589/G-HURR] was reported by the BBC to have been taking part in a mock dogfight at the Shoreham airshow, "when it went into almost a straight dive and ploughed into a hill probably about a mile from the airfield." A spokesman for the Shoreham Airshow confirmed that one person died when the Hurricane went down in countryside. No one else was thought to have been hurt in the accident, which happened away from Shoreham Airport on land near Lancing College. Sussex Police issued the following statement: "At 3.20pm on Saturday, September 15, a single crewed Hurricane aircraft, taking part in an aerial display at the Shoreham Airshow, crashed into a field killing the pilot. The Air Accident Investigation Board has been contacted and will be carrying out a full investigation. The pilot has been named as Brian Brown.

Shortly afterwards, two Spitfires carried out a flypast in the "man missing in action". Air show commentator and display director Peter Eager announced the show would continue as close to the programme as possible, adding it would have been what the pilot concerned would have wanted, and the show was expected to go ahead on Sunday.

Shoreham Airshow Website

Shoreham Herald Website

BBC News Website

Shoreham Airshow Press Release

17th September 2007
Pilot Brian Brown was well know to the organisers of the RAFA Shoreham Airshow and had displayed at this airfield several times. Well known and respected on the aviation circuit his expertise and flying skills will be missed by both fellow pilots and aviation enthusiasts world wide.

Many comments have been received by those attending the display from pilots and aviation publications on how right we were in continuing the flying after this accident. The decision to do this was made by the organisers and safety team at the show after discussions with the other pilots involved.

This is the first major incident in 18 years of running this event.

Display flying has it's risks and all those involved are well aware of this. The aircraft and skills of the pilots are paramount in selecting displays and planning them for the Shoreham Airshow.

There will be another show in 2008. A further media release will follow later this week.

Our deepest sympathies go out to Brian's family and his many close friends associated within the aviation world.

Gnat XR537

A Gnat T1 (XR537/G-NATY) has been restored at Bournemouth Aviation Museum with the first restoration flight by De Havilland Aviation's chief test pilot, Brian Grant on 9th August 2007. Thirty one years previously this aircraft had been a Red Arrows display aircraft and permission has been granted to repaint XR537 in its original RAF Aerobatic Team colours.

The Gnat T1 will continue to be based at Bournemouth and will be available for display around the UK and mainland Europe in 2008. The aircraft will be flown by former Red Arrows pilots 'Spike' Jepson and Justin Hughes, following the retirement of Brian Grant.

XR537 was built by Folland at Hamble in the spring of 1963, being delivered from Dunsfold to the RAF. Initially issued to No.4 FTS at Valley in July, it later served with the Central Flying School. During its days with the CFS, XR537 was operated by the Red Arrows team. On withdrawal from flying duties in September 1979, it was delivered to No 2 School of Technical Training at Cosford to serve as an instructional airframe, receiving serial 8642M. It was maintained in a ground running condition, still in its Red Arrows colours, until surplus to requirements at the end of 1989. Sold at a Sotheby's Auction in March 1990, XR537/8642M was moved by road to Bournemouth on 5th April, being placed on the civil register as G-NATY in June.

Bournemouth Aviation Museum Website

Folland Gnat Survivers - Thunder and Lightnings Website

New paint scheme for the Red Arrows

The Red Arrows unveiled a new paint scheme for its Hawk aircraft on 31st October 2007. This is the first time a new paint scheme has been applied to the aircraft since they were delivered to the Red Arrows in 1979.

They will be leaving for a tour of the Middle and Far East on 4th November 2007 until returning on the 18th December 2007. The Red Arrows will be performing 18 displays and visiting 13 countries including Jordan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Malaysia, India and Pakistan.

2007 is the Red Arrows' 43rd display season. Since the team's creation in 1965, the Red Arrows have performed over 4,000 displays in 53 countries.

Old Paint Scheme

New paint scheme
Picture: SAC Alex Scott.

MOD Website - Red Arrows unveil new look aircraft

Red Arrows Website

Spitfire T8 MT818

The 2-seat Spitfire T8 (MT818) has been bought by Paul Andrews, based at Wycombe Air Park in the UK. MT818 was previously owned and operated in Oregan, USA.

MT818 was originally built as a Spitfire LF VIIIc at Castle Bromwich in 1944. It was delivered to the Controller of Research and Development at High Post in 1944, then transferred to Farnborough. It was converted to a 2-seat Spitfire T8 at Chilbolton, Hampshire and flew in August 1946. Flight trials at Boscombe Down showed that it had similar handling to the single seat Spitfire but the cockpits came in for criticism with poor view from the rear cockpit for take-off and landing. The RAF showed no interest in this aircraftand no further conversions were made making this a unique aircraft in that it is the only Spitfire T8 ever built.

MT818 was stored from 1952-1956 then sold to various owners. It was badly damaged landing at Baginton in the late 1970s and didn't fly again until 1982 after being bought by a buyer in Houston, Texas. It was registered N58JE and the restoration process was completed in 1987. It has since been a part of the Tillamook NAS Air Museum until returning to the UK after being bought by Paul Andrews.

Currently its Rolls Royce Merlin is being replaced for a correct Merlin 266 engine and it is hoped she will be flying by the end of 2008.