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G-AMSV Returns to Coventry

An old friend returned to Coventry yesterday when G-AMSV, in her striking Indian Air force livery, landed here for extensive maintenance by our engineers. Sierra Victor was part of the Air Altantique fleet here for many years. She'll...

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Baginton Air Pageant

The initial details for the Baginton Air Pageant are up on the website! As we don't have the space for a full-on air show attracting 20,000 or so people, we're aiming for low-key, themed days like this. A couple of thousand people,...

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Newquay Pleasure flights

We promised we'd be back to fly in Cornwall, and here we are. We'll be heading south with a Rapide and Chipmunk to spend a week at Newquay from 25th July, with a further visit planned in August. The flights are bookable in the normal...

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New Dakota Book

Geoff Jones just told me that his new book on the DC-3, released to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Dak's appearance, is now available. The cover sports a lovely shot of G-ANAF, shot by Simon Westwood before her radome goiter was...

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Nimrod Engine Run

We've just confirmed plans by NPT to run all four of the Nimrod's Rolls-Royce Speys on Saturday 9th May. We expect the thunder to start just after lunchtime. Come along and enjoy some audio power - and please dip into your pockets...

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From the Blog Header
Become a member of the Classic Air Force
Gloster Meteor: Those meteoric advances
Status: Both flyable
Owned by: The Classic Aircraft Trust
Current location: Coventry
Available for pleasure flights: No

Gloster Meteor NF.11 WM167 / G-LOSM

Classic Air Force’s Gloster Meteor NF.11 is the only surviving Night Fighter Meteor left in airworthy condition and was one of the first privately owned jet fighters to operate in the UK.

WM167 was built under licence from Gloster by the Armstrong Whitworth Company at Baginton (Coventry) airport in 1952. It entered service with the RAF’s 228 Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAF Leeming, Yorkshire in August but after just a month she was passed to 33MU at RAF Colerne in Wiltshire for storage.

The aircraft returned to 228 OCU the following year and remained on charge with the unit until 1960 when she headed south to 33MU at Colerne yet again. Her stay was brief yet again as she was returned to Armstrong Whitworth in January 1961 for modification to TT.20 target towing configuration. Upon completed WM167 was allocated to the Aeroplane and Armaments Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire where she was used for target towing trials.

By now WM167 still only had 559 hours ‘on the clock’ and a quiet year at Boscombe Down only added another 20 hours to the logbooks. At the end of the trials exercise WM167 headed back to 33MU at Colerne yet again before being delivered to Flight Refuelling Ltd. The aircraft spent the next ten years towing targets under an MoD contract at both Tarrant Rushton in Dorset and Llanbedr in North Wales.

The aircraft was declared surplus in 1975 and purchased by well-known ‘warbird’ collector Doug Arnold for his Warbirds of Great Britain (WoGB) collection, which at that time was based at Blackbushe. She was ferried to Blackbushe on December 1, 1975 by the late-Neil Williams and converted back into NF.11 Night Fighter configuration before entering storage.

When the Arnold family sold Blackbushe in 1984 the WoGB collection needed to be moved and the simplest way to move WM167 was by air. By now a sale had been sale had been negotiated with Mike Carlton’s ‘Hunter One’ collection at Bournemouth (Hurn) Airport and the aircraft was registered to Carlton’s Brencham Group on June 8, 1984. The highly appropriate G-LOSM (GLOSter Meteor) was allocated to the aeroplane and it was ferried to Hurn a month later on July 6.

The aircraft operated successfully until Mike Carlton was killed in a flying accident whilst on holiday in Zimbabwe in August 1986. The Meteor, along with other jets belonging to Hunter One, was auctioned off by Christies on October 1, 1987 and remained at Hurn as part of LGH Aviation, which traded as Jet Heritage Ltd. The company later became Hunter Wing Ltd and Bournemouth Aviation Museum but G-LOSM was acquired by Air Atlantique in March 2004.

Over the years G-LOSM has featured in a variety of documentaries and has taken part in a number of important flights – including carrying the ashes of jet-engine designer Sir Frank Whittle. Today the aircraft remains airworthy at Coventry and is painted in a camouflage scheme typical of the Night Fighting Meteors of its day. It carries no squadron markings at present but depicted 141 Sqn for many years during the 1980s and 90s.

G-LOSM not only flies as a tribute the early jet pilots but also to those preservation pioneers who led the way in civilian jet fighter operations during the early 1980s.

Gloster Meteor T.7 WA591 / G-BWMF

When WA591 returned to the sky after a 20-year restoration it became the world's oldest flyable British jet aircraft.

Built by Gloster Aircraft at Hucklecote, Gloucestershire in mid 1949 it was delivered to the Royal Air Force on September 2. The Central Fighter Establishment at RAF West Raynham was the first to take WA591 on charge prior to handing it over to 226OCU at RAF Stradishall, Suffolk on October 31.

Learning to fly early jets was a hazardous pastime and WA591 suffered its first flying accident on January 12, 1950 – just 73 days after it joined the Operational Conversion Unit! Initially the damage was classed as ‘Cat 3R’ but this was later amended to ‘Cat 4R’ and the aircraft was returned to Glosters for repairs. WA591 did not return to service until November 16.

Four days later it was allocated to 203 Advanced Flying School (AFS) at RAF Driffield, Yorkshire and this time it lasted nearly a year before it suffered another ‘Cat 4R’ flying accident and was returned to Glosters for yet more repairs. This time it was repaired by May 14, 1952 and the following day it was reallocated to 208 AFS at RAF Merryfield, Somerset.

On March 10, 1954 WA591 was reassigned to 215 AFS at RAF Finningley, Yorkshire but on August 6 it suffered yet another Cat 4R flying accident. Again it was despatched to Glosters and repairs were completed on June 30, 1954 – at which point WA591 was sent to 33MU at RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire for storage.

On December 9, 1954 the aircraft was allocated once again, this time to 12 FTS at Weston Zoyland, Somerset, with whom it served until June 17, 1955 when it was sent to 38MU for refurbishment before returning to 12 FTS.

February 27, 1956 saw another Cat 4 accident and this time the airframe was despatched to A V Row for repairs – which were completed on July 25. The following day it was sent to 12MU at RAF Kirkbride, Cumbria with whom it stayed until March 16, 1959 when it returned to 33MU at Lyneham. A few months later, on June 29, WA591 was assigned to the RAF College of Air Warfare at RAF Manby, Lincolnshire where it was one of 14 Meteor T.7s on strength.

A further period of storage at 33MU (Lyneham) and 5MU (Kemble) followed from January 1961 until the Meteor was assigned to 5 FTS at RAF Oakington, Cambridgeshire on January 25, 1962. Its stay was short however as it returned to RAF Driffield – this time with 8 FTS – on February 27 before heading back to RAF Manby on August 13.

During WA591s time at RAF Manby it suffered another flying accident, this time incurring Cat 3 damage on July 10, 1963 and being sent to 63MU for repairs. It returned to Manbybut was finally declared obsolete in 1965 and allocated to 5MU Apprentice School at Kemble for ground instruction.

WA591 subsequently found itself on the gate at RAF Woodvale, Cheshire and was rescued in 1995 by Meteor Flight – a group of enthusiasts formed by Colin Rhodes.

Restoration work began in earnest at Yatesbury and was progressing well until Colin was tragically killed in a freak accident on August 8, 1997. Restoration of WA591 continued and in 2007 Air Atlantique’s Classic Flight agreed to help fund a fulltime engineer to speed up the progress. The aircraft moved to Kemble at the end of 2008 and has been funded and supported by Classic Flight ever since.

Since its return to airworthiness WA591 has become an airshow favourite as well as becoming a training aircraft for a new generation of classic jet pilots.  It's fitting that it should resume the very role that it began back in 1959.