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BAC Lightning T5 - XS458/T - T5 Projects - United Kingdom   BAC Lightning T5 - XS458/T - T5 Projects - United Kingdom   BAC Lightning T5 - XS458/T - T5 Projects - United Kingdom   BAC Lightning T5 - XS458/T - T5 Projects - United Kingdom
 

Words and images by Mike Freer additional photography by Stuart Freer.

The authors had the great pleasure of being guests of Mr and Mrs Russell Carpenter and their dedicated team on October 11th, 2008, for a day spent with them running their immaculate Lightning T5 XS458. The author was impressed with the ease and efficiency of the ground crew in handling such a sophisticated warplane and one of the highlights of the day was to sit in the cockpit while the aircraft was being towed – the nearest I’ll ever get to flying a Lightning.

Following all the necessary ground and safety checks (and also a good clean and polish by Mrs Carpenter) the first of two runs down the runway was made culminating in the braking parachute being deployed. Following a superb buffet, it was back to work and the second run was made during the afternoon in the capable hands of ex Lightning pilot Squadron Leader Dennis Brooks who had been OC of the Lightning Training Flight (LTF) at RAF Binbrook and had flown XS458 during this time. After this run she taxied back and was safely chocked so that an afterburner run could be conducted. This proved an ear shattering experience for the author who was stood nearby taking photos without ear defenders!!! The afternoon came to an end with the XS458 being positioned inch perfect to catch the best light for photography. It was rather sad to say “good bye” to such a charismatic aircraft and Russell summed it up rather well when he said “haven’t you had enough of her yet?”

XS458 was delivered to the RAF during 1965, serving at RAF Coltishall with 145 Sqn and 226 OCU. She moved to RAF Binbrook during 1974 serving with 5 and 11 Sqn and the LTF. Following retirement from service she was flown to Cranfield along with five other aircraft with the intention of operating a number of them in airworthy condition. Indeed, the aircraft were maintained by a number of volunteer RAF ground crew, all to no avail, as the CAA refused permission for them to fly. Russell Carpenter acquired XS458 during 2001 and has maintained her in the pristine condition we see her in today. She is presently painted in 92 Sqn markings (port side) and 111 Sqn markings on the starboard side. Unit markings of all the Squadrons that flew the Lightning are displayed down the port side of the fuselage. Her superb condition must be attributed to the hard work put in by the support team of Tony Hulls, Jonathan and Byrnard. Her condition is such that it would be a relatively straight forward project to restore her to flying condition. If only...

The author wishes to thank Mr and Mrs Carpenter, Dennis Brooks, Tony Hulls, Andrew, Harry and Jonathan of the support team for their hospitality along with Rick and Kirsty Sleight of the Fighter Control Group.

BAC Lightning T5 - XS458/T - T5 Projects - United Kingdom
 
BAC Lightning T5 - XS458/T - T5 Projects - United Kingdom   BAC Lightning T5 - XS458/T - T5 Projects - United Kingdom   BAC Lightning T5 - XS458/T - T5 Projects - United Kingdom   BAC Lightning T5 - XS458/T - T5 Projects - United Kingdom
 
BAC Lightning T5 - XS458/T - T5 Projects - United Kingdom
 
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