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2011 UK Airshows : REVIEW

Lightning Preservation Group Twilight Rolling Reheat Run

The Lightning Preservation Group at Bruntingthorpe has done wonders over the past few years not only to maintain its wonderful pair of English Electric Lightning F6s. but also to restore and rebuild a former RAF Wattisham QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) shed to house its prized aircraft. Raising funds is no easy task in these austere modern times, but LPG has done so by hosting regular events, one of which is the spectacular Twilight Run.

Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of the author.

English Electric Lightnings are perhaps the most charismatic of all of the British classic jets. There somewhat strange angular lines of a triumph of form following function housing two powerful Rolls Royce reheated Avon jet engines in as small as space possible. Even today they still look as though they are something out of a science fiction book rather than the dark days of the old war where their contemporaries where the much more conventional looking F-4 Phantoms and alike.

Today, there are very few active examples, and even fewer flying. In the home country of the Lightning they are firmly grounded being too expensive for return to flight projects. The Lightning Preservation Group at Bruntingthorpe is one of the few places where the public can get up close to an active aircraft. Each year, the LPG hosts public events which not only raise the profile of the group’s activities but also provide a much need income to keep the aircraft active.

Bruntingthorpe has become something of a mecca for classic jets with examples of the Handley Page Victor, English Electric Canberra, De Havilland Comet, TS-11 Iskra, Folland Gnat, Blackburn Buccaneer, L-29 Delphin, Dassault Mystere and Hawker Hunter all being preserved here at the Cold War Jets Collection.

The Twilight Lightning Runs got underway just after 4pm with darkness setting in. Lightning F6 XS904 was brought out to the main run and prepped in front of a limited crowd of 250 for its runs down the runway.

A Lightning exploding into to full reheat is something to behold with no only the spectacular reheat flames but the physical rumble which not only shakes the ground but also seemingly all your internal organs! Fortunately for the crowd the pilot returned to the area in front of the crowds following this first run for a static run with just one reheat engaged (the Lightning’s brakes cannot cope with the power of both reheats lit) before one final run down the runway! While the overcast made life very difficult for the still photographer, there’s no doubt this a spectacular event to watch.

Following the runs, XS904 was brought back to the QRA shed to sit in the floodlighting next to its sister aircraft XR728 for some night-time shooting.

Red Hot!

To find out more about the Lightning Preervation Group, please visit the website.

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