Thanks & Well Done To All Involved In Keeping Our Victor Servicable Again
In this short article, Geoffrey Pool and then Simon Chapman describe the concept and workings of The Cold War Jets Collection.
When XH558 flew into Bruningthorpe on 23rd March, 1993, only four other aircraft were at the airfield that are still there today; an ex-French Air Force Dassault Mystere, an ex-Danish Air Force Hawker Hunter and the two English Electric Lightnings.
It was the Vulcans arrival that prompted the creation of the British Aviation Heritage, which was an umbrella term for the beginnings of a larger collection of ex-RAF jet aircraft owned by the Walton Family Company, the owners of the airfield itself. In November, 1993, the Handley Page Victor joined the Vulcan, to be followed by the Blackburn Buccaneer in November, 1994, the Aero Spacelines Super Guppy in July, 1997, and the De Havilland Comet in October, 1997.
It was, of course, the Vulcan that was the centrepiece, and Mr. Terry Smith, a licenced aircraft engineer who had trained with Armstrong Whitworths in Coventry, and who had later been responsible for the overall maintenance of Air Atlantiques fleet of Dakotas, was hired to be the lead person of the maintenance team in what was a long term plan to bring the aircraft back to flying condition. In the course of the following year the aircraft attracted a number of volunteers who, under Terrys leadership, were dedicated to the maintenance of the Vulcan according to proper RAF maintenance schedules. Denis Parker, one of the 558 Clubs committee members, was one of the volunteers, as was his son, Lee, who is now a qualified aeronautical engineer himself. Eventually, there were about a dozen volunteers, as the numbers of aircraft grew. Although, as would be expected, individual volunteers have come and gone, each for their own very good individual reasons, the numbers have remained remarkably consistent. With the Vulcan not now able to be worked on by volunteers, except for very minor work such as cleaning, as only work by qualified licenced aeronautical engineers is possible, it is to the credit of the volunteer force that they have maintained their enthusiasm and interest for the other aircraft. Not only is this the case, but they have also taken the ex-Polish Air Force Iskra and the ex-Swiss Air Force Hawker Hunter under their wing to ensure that these aircraft are also maintained in proper taxiable condition.
Unfortunately after we handed the Vulcan over to the VOC our team has dwindled, but we still have a small core of regular volunteers that turn up rain or shine! What we need to do is enlist some new team members to help keep the aircraft in good order, this involves a bit of hard work and enthusiasm. Experience with aircraft obviously helps but is not essential, just a will to learn and work on your own initiative on occasions is just as important. There is a high safety aspect so you will have an airfield safety lecture before you start. We have the equivalent of Haynes manuals for the aircraft so when we get a problem our first port of call is to read up and try to solve the problem ourselves; there is also a wealth of knowledge from the other groups on the airfield, on this note I would like to thank Phoenix Aviation, The Lightning Preservation Group and the Canberra lads for their help and advice. The Cold War Jets Collection operates on Sundays as a rule. The latest Project is the Jaguar, which needs extensive work. You dont have to turn up every week, though we would be pleased to see you! Some people have commitments and turn up fortnightly or just when they can get here! The rewards are being involved in engine running on a regular basis, and of course the open days. We do like to have a bit of a social too, trips to other airfields, bbqs etc. If you are interested in joining, then why not visit the museum or arrange to spend a day with us. You can contact me by phone or email. Just to finish off we do have a wish list of items we need, if you have anything you feel may be of use to us, would like a copy of the list or just a chat!
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