1911 Waterbird replica flies for first time

After an epic battle to realise their dream,  Lincolnshire Skunk Works craftsmen and the Waterbird Trust have finally had the gratification of seeing their hand built replica sea-plane take to the skies for the first time.  Though only a short hop, the aircraft gracefully took off, landed and made small adjustments in the skies. This hop was the first of hopefully more air tests necessary to satisfy aviation authorities of its airworthiness – which has proved quite a challenge for this design breaking pre-WW1 aircraft, some of whose struts are made of bamboo.

The star of this restoration story, Gerry Cooper, is a successful engineer and pilot who has thousands of hours as a crop spraying pilot, aerial survey pilot and vintage aircraft ace.  Along with his team of woodworkers and aircraft engineers they’ve spent thousands of man hours perfectly replicating this early twentieth century aeroplane while also incorporating painstaking and necessary design alterations that allow it to be flown as a UK certified aircraft by the CAA.

Watch this space as we plan to launch a Web TV series documenting the full story of this phenomenal build, a story we hope to see culminate with the Waterbird replica flying from Lake Windermere where the namesake aircraft was designed, built and flew over 100 years ago.

To find out more about Waterbird Trust and the original aircraft’s history in the Lake District please visit http://www.waterbird.org.uk/.

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NEW ERA FOR EAST KIRKBY

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Our cameras capturing the wing section being lifted from the low loaded, at East Kirkby Airfield

The Aviation Heritage Centre, at East Kirkby in Lincolnshire, has received delivery of a very rare new bird – Mosquito NFII HJ711.  The Mosquito has been lovingly rebuilt over the last 45 years by Tony Agar, who has moved it to East Kirkby to realise his dream to see it taxying under it’s own steam again.

Yesterday, our cameras caught this auspicious arrival and interviewed Andrew Panton, manager of the Aviation Heritage Centre, who confirmed this to be a new era for the Aviation Heritage Centre. He added:

“East Kirkby was originally home to the Lancaster, Dakota and Mosquito aircraft so having it here has completed our collection… I can’t wait to see 6 merlin engines running on our airfield simultaneously as these world war two icons taxy together for the first time.”

It’s a particularly poignant union, as Tony Agar bought the very first piece of this Mosquito (the cockpit section) at the same Blackpool auction attended by the late Fred Panton who intented to purchase Just Jane.  Andrew, Fred’s grandson, expressed how he believed that this development has a feeling of divine interventions.

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The cockpit section of Tony Agar’s Mosquito HJ711

The aircraft will be available to view at next weekend’s air show (August 5th, 2017), before the rebuild commences in following weeks. Primetime will be there to document this remarkable event for inclusion in a forthcoming DVD, due October 2017. Watch this space!

To find out more about the Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby and their new addition please visit their news blog here.

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JUST JANE STRIPPED

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From this… Credit: Primetime Video

Primetime have been busy recording the deep restoration currently underway on Just Jane at the Aviation Heritage Centre, East Kirkby.  This restoration has been dubbed “NX611 Return to Flight?” by the team at East Kirkby, leading many to believe it’s the beginning of the final stage for returning this bomber into Lincolnshire skies.  Insipration for this latest push may have come from the recent sight of BBMF Lancaster PA474 in the skies with the visiting Canadian Lancaster, the first time two flying Avro Lancaster bombers seen airborne together in many decades.

 

To this... Credit: Primetime Video
To this… Credit: Primetime Video

The Panton family, who own the museum and Lancaster, began the restoration late this year, removing the upper and rear gun turrets, engines, elevators, undercarriage and many other components.  Most recently all of Just Jane’s iconic paintwork has been removed and a thorough inspection of the skins is underway.

We’re documenting this process for the continuation of our DVD series, and we’re providing mini cameras for 24/7 visuals inside the hangar at East Kirkby.

To find out more visit their website where regular updates are given and from where you can order our previous DVD titles.

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NASA ASTRONAUT VISITS LANCASTER

Colonel Alfred Worden, NASA
Alfred Worden, NASA Astronaut and Empire Test Pilot, visited Lancaster ‘Just Jane’ at East Kirkby in Lincolnshire yesterday.

 

He was visiting the UK to talk at the Space Lectures in Pontefract, and before returning to the USA particularly requested to visit Bomber County to see Lancaster NX611. The team at the Aviation Heritage Centre opened their doors especially on a Sunday for Alfred, who is one of only 24 people to have ever visited the moon.

 

Alfred served as command module pilot during the Apollo 15 mission that took place July-August 1971.  Apollo 15 was the fourth manned lunar landing mission and the first to visit and explore the moon’s Hadley Rille and Montes Apenninus which are located on the southeast edge of the Mare Imbrium (Sea of Rains).
Harold and Fred Panton with Alfred Worden (centre)

Alfred, now a sprightly aged 81, climbed on board the Lancaster and joined Andrew Panton in the co-pilots position as they taxied this original Second World War bomber on the original wartime airfield of RAF East Kirkby.  The brothers Fred and Harold Panton set up the museum in the late 1980s after purchasing the Lancaster bomber and transferring it from RAF Scampton where it was the gate guardian.  The museum commemorates all those from East Kirkby who lost their lives during the War, and most importantly Fred and Harold’s eldest brother Christopher Panton who was killed during the Nuremberg Raid 70 years ago next year. As well as the Lancaster, East Kirkby is home to several excellent museums, wartime vehicles, an authentic control tower and a chapel of rest which names all the aircrew who died flying from RAF East Kirkby.

Steve, Simon and Joanna filming 'Just Jane' for the latest Lancaster Experience DVD
Primetime Media have enjoyed filming with the Panton family since the early 1990s, documenting Lancaster NX611’s return to taxy condition, and are now poised to continue recording the restoration to flight of this magnificent aircraft which the team at East Kirkby hope to achieve sometime in the next few years.  It was Al’s particular wish to be kept up to date with progress and he’s requested to return to East Kirkby when they do fly her.  Footage from the shoot was featured on tonight’s ITV Yorkshire news programme Calendar and you can view it again from their live news stream, link below.

 

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