The Midair Squadron is delighted to confirm their appearance at the BE Aerospace Festival of Flight in Newcastle, County Down, Northern Ireland on the 9th August 2014, hosting a tangible link to the past.
Canberra XH134, the world’s only airworthy Canberra PR9, is one of only 23 of these aircraft to be manufactured by Short Brothers and Harland Ltd in Belfast between 1958 and 1962. The Canberra is believed to be the longest serving aircraft in RAF history, and was only retired from active operation in July 2006.
En route to Newcastle, the Midair Squadron will overfly where the Canberra’s sister, XH131, stands proud in the Ulster Aviation Society’s collection at Long Kesh.
Following the type’s retirement, XH131 was donated to the Ulster Aviation Society by Midair Squadron owner, Mike Davis, and was transported by road to the Society’s base in 2010 as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) support project to conserve and explore the heritage of the aircraft.
Born and raised in Northern Ireland, Flt Lt Mike Leckey, Midair Squadron’s Chief Pilot, will be at the controls of XH134, which will be flanked by both Squadron Hunters. Schooled in Belfast, Leckey joined the Royal Air Force in 1988 and has flown over 2,700 hours on the Canberra during his time in the military.
Commenting on his and the Canberra’s homecoming, Flt Lt Mike Leckey, says, “To fly the Canberra over home crowds will be a fitting tribute and testament to the Midair Squadron and the force behind this historic and unique aviation team. The Canberra is an exceptional aircraft combining both power and beauty, and we are thrilled to be joining the line up at the Newcastle Festival of Flight.”
Jeff Salter, Festival of Flight organiser comments, “It was the Canberra B5 prototype which held the return Atlantic crossing record from Aldergrove to Gander and back in 10 hours 3 minutes. The record being achieved in 1952.
“We’re delighted to welcome the Midair Squadron to Northern Ireland, and are particularly excited to witness the spectacular sight and sound of the Canberra PR9 and her sister Hunters, and hear their famous howls.”
For further information on the Midair Squadron and their display schedule, please visit www.midair-squadron.com