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  • Seafuryfan
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Jan 2000
    • 2497

    News from Hangar 11

    (With permission to reproduce here)
    "Another long-haul flight, another reason to write an update for Facebook, except that I have not been on the site for quite some time, you guys may have forgotten us by now ☹ Fact is that I retired from frontline display flying at the end of the 2018 season, just as I said that I would. Since that time, as a business we have concentrated on new avenues and leveraging relationships in some old ones. Life does not begin and end with Airshows, that was what I thought last year and I do hold with that. It is so hard to watch the industry that we all love, just shrivel to a shadow of what it once was. The post Shoreham effect has just savaged the number of airshows in the UK, as well as other flying displays for corporate and private events. A combination of a regulator who feels that it has to be seen to be tough on the airshow world, seemingly running scared of any and all liability issues, especially in the period prior to the Shoreham inquest, where it is generally predicted that they will come out badly. Plus, the sheer aggravation, liability issues, added complexity and cost of hosting an airshow has led to many of the shows that we loved and supported going south. Off the top of my head, this year alone, we lost Farnborough, Chalke Valley, last shows at Abingdon and Dunsfold and several more. You will see, that a few years from now, there will likely only be the major seaside shows, perhaps a handful of military shows, Duxford and that will be it! I am so glad that I was able to participate in what now appears to have been the golden age of airshows, maybe not as free as the previous 30 years ( remember Ray Hannah over the heads of punters on the main straight at Goodwood) but brilliant as compared to these current days of endless red tape. I plan to frame some of the Article 86 permissions, as issued by the CAA that I have flown in my last season, as ones that highlight just why I decided to quit. Badly thought out display areas, some virtually impossible to fly safely in high velocity ex-military fighters , most with avoids in key areas, multiple height restrictions, no fly areas and this is supposed to be safe.for whom, certainly not the poor overloaded pilots, struggling to save their DAs ( Display Authorities) from going into the CAA shredder ☹

    Anyway, enough ranting by an old guy and a bit about how we have been doing over the last few months. We ended the 2018 season at IWM show at Duxford end of September last. I really enjoyed myself and managed also to carry multiple cameras on the Spitfire, offering some unique shots inside the large formations, so hope you may have seen that footage. Over the winter, we undertook the usual periodic maintenance of the P51 Mustang and Spitfire. Spitfire PL965 took back to the skies in May. During the winter, we re-fitted the original camera blisters under the wings. These had been removed back in the 1990s but were stored safely until this year. So, we fitted the actual blisters back on, they had housed the cameras which took vital photos back in 1944/1945 when she flew missions with 16 Squadrons RAF over occupied Germany out of a forward base in Belgium. I did manage a few flights with the blisters fitted but as soon as the images were seen on the internet, we had a paperwork challenges from the CAA at Gatwick and now we have been forced to remover the blisters, pending application for a minor modification, which is going through now. Hmmmm ☹

    Tall In The Saddle is in fine shape after her annual inspection and took to the skies in June, attending the Lee on Solent Airshow as well as Dunsfold for the very last time as that show has now ceased, very sad. We also cranked up the momentum on the restoration of our Russian MK XI Spitfire PT879- G-PTIX. In October 2018, she had travelled by road to Biggin Hill to complete her restoration at the Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, which is the facility run by Peter Monk. He is undoubtedly the worlds leading expert on the Spitfire, having the deepest knowledge and the largest parts inventory anywhere on the planet. If you need a Spitfire widgetPete will have it and know where and how it fits. Plus, we have been good mates for 20 years, so that counts for a great deal. Their work is the best I have ever seen on a Spitfire ! You may be aware that Peter recovered PT879 himself from Russia during the late 1990s. She is a unique aircraft and upon completion will be the only Spitfire that actually flew with a Russian squadron during the Second World War. Do take a look at her full history on our website, really interesting and unique http://hangar11.co.uk/russspit.html In this age, when folks restore entire aircraft from the contents of a Tesco carrier bag and a data plate (you know what I mean) our Spitfire will be amazingly original. Fact is that she was crashed aircraft but pretty much complete. Peter recovered wings, fuselage, engine, prop and so much more. We were able to salvage hundreds and hundreds of original castings, forgings, fittings, inspection hatches, pintles, gear doors, undercarriage legs, etc, etc. Wings and fuselage have been restored using hundreds of the original parts recovered from the aircraft itself and she will be perfect in every detail, as there are no questions, no mysteries about her, as we had the whole aircraft, with a mere 28.5 hours from new when she crashed in Russia in the Spring of 1945. We restored the fuselage a number of years ago and now the wings are well on the way to being overhauled and the fuselage is being fitted out with the myriad of complex systems, electric, hydraulic, pneumatic. Her 1944 Rolls Royce Merlin 66 engine is also well on track to completion as well as prop overhaul going on concurrently. We are hoping for late summer 2020 for first test flights, who knows I may even be able to display her towards the end of the 2020 season

    Back to flying, whilst I did retire from full time display flying, I did always say that I would make some guest appearances if asked at shows that I really enjoyed. Last weekend I was back in the hot seat and flew up to East Kirkby to display at the home of the Lancaster and the Panton family. Super clear sunny afternoon, nice crowd and to be honest, in spite of the long layoff, I was pleasantly surprised how I was straight back into the display groove, all went really well and folks seemed very pleased. I landed in after the display, met with some really nice people, took some photos (see attached) and then took off for the long track up to Yorkshire to Castle Howard. There, the London Philharmonic Orchestra and some 7000 people waited for their Spitfire display and at 19.39 on the dot I ran in along the big Lake towards the crowd and the bandstand. It was a picture-perfect scene and the orchestra played stirring Spitfire music as I looped and swooped at that wonderful venue. It is not an easy one for a rapid fighter though, surrounded by high trees and some other challenges in terms of a campsite on the opposite shore of the lake but we managed a nice display , same as in previous years and then off slot at 19.49 after a wing waggle along the display axis, then turn south with the sun starting to get low in the sky on my starboard wing. After some 40 minutes I landed at a calm Sywell airfield near Northampton and was able to taxi right up to the Aviator Hotel, which sits on the airport perimeter. Met by a member of the Hangar 11 team of volunteers, Alec and I bedded the plane down and then enjoyed a very agreeable meal to follow. Next day it was a trip over to Kemble airfield in the morning to support Roger Hayes and the Pup club and finally home for tea and medals. In all some 4 hours Spitfire flying, plus 2 high energy displays, not bad for an old guy

    So, we are still very much in business, involved in film and documentary work and other promotional avenues. The Hangar 11 Collection is active and motivated to get PT 879 into the air as soon as possible. To close, I carried some Go-pro cameras on the last few displays at the end of the 2018 season an have not had the heart to put them on line until now. There is some lovely footage of my last Mustang display at Southport Airshow, a venue that I love to bits and have flown for many, many years. That footage will be hosted by Neil Draper and the access is via his YouTube site at https://youtu.be/B9W-ic742_g So, goodbye for now, I will stay in touch a little more perhaps than in the recent past, kind best wishes, fly safe Peter"
  • 1batfastard
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Jan 2013
    • 3449

    #2
    Hi All,
    Thank you Seafuryfan -Great news and update on the Russian theatre Spit especially.....

    Geoff.

    Comment

    • Bradburger
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Jan 2000
      • 1459

      #3
      Good to see a long awaited post from Peter, although it's rather sad to see he's had to get involved in more 'paperwork challenges' with the CAA over the fitting of the wing camera blisters to the Spitfire, and along with his candid comments on the current state of UK airshow regulations, makes one realise that this kind of nonsense from the regulator has to stop!.

      Anyway, loved the footage from the Mustang at the 2018 Southport Airshow, just a shame we won't get to see more of Peter and the H11 aircraft like we used too.

      Cheers

      Paul
      Last edited by Bradburger; 17th August 2019, 18:48.
      The most usless commodity in aerobatics is the amount of sky above you!

      Comment

      • Wyvernfan
        wyvernfan@gmail.com
        • Oct 2007
        • 5902

        #4
        Nice write up thanks for posting.

        PT certainly has the knack for writing a good yarn and keeping it entertaining. Back home for tea and medals indeed - love it!
        Facebook page
        https://www.facebook.com/Westland.Wy...tif_t=page_fan

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