The Lightning Preservation Group was proud to exhibit their two immaculate aircraft. English Electric Lightning F6 XR728 took the honour of blasting off down the runway in the capable hands of Dennis Brooks. This really must be a labour of love for Dennis, being able to get his hands on a “live” Lightning after so many years. XR728 is still in her original colour scheme and markings of Group Captain John Spencer. Her stable-mate, XS904,was also on view but did not run on this occasion. In the words of Andy Bonsell (18 years with the LPG), “Our top priority is to finish off the ‘Q’ shed to keep both aircraft under cover”. The ‘Q’ shed was once used at RAF Wattisham during the Cold War years. A Twilight run is scheduled for November 26th.
The fast run by Handley Page Victor K2 XM715 ‘Teasing Tina’ of the Cold War Jets collection was eagerly awaited, but there was no repeat performance of the last run when the aircraft got airborne. This was caused by a strong cross-wind, but with skilled airmanship, the aircraft was landed safely and with no damage. ‘Teasing Tina’ is another Gulf War veteran that partook in Operation ‘Granby’.
The other Cold War Jets “heavy” – de Havilland Comet XS235/G-CPDA – unfortunately, developed a technical problem and was unable to perform. This aircraft served at the Aircraft & Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire before arriving at Bruntingthorpe. Work has started on re-painting her.
On a lighter note, Hawker Hunter F.58 J-4091 (ex Swiss Air Force) of the Cold War Jets collection showed off her classic lines. Also of note was another classic British aviation design in the form of Jet Provost T3A XN582. Probably, the most unusual aircraft to display was the ex Polish Air Force PZL Milec Iskra 1018.
While walking around Bruntingthorpe in the late afternoon drizzle, I came across work being conducted on de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 XJ494, resplendent in the markings of 899 Naval Air Squadron, HMS Eagle. Maybe one day we may see her run alongside another famous Fleet Air Arm type, the HS Buccaneer S2B.
A visit to the Beech Restoration facility revealed the superb Beech 18 G-BKRN (ex RCAF 1500) which is being restored to flying condition in the markings of ‘Naval Encounter’, a US Navy JRB-3 Expeditor once based at Dunkeswell in Devon. Also present under restoration was North American T-6G Texan G-TOMC and Harvard G-CPPM.
The author wishes to thank Philip Turland, Andy Bromley, Clive Davis, Tim Radford, Stephen Reglar, Roger Wintle, Andy Bonsell, Dennis Brooks, Norman Roberson, Francis Wallace (plus others I may have forgot) for their kind hospitality during my visit.