Big Bird’s Bash


Jamie Ewan reports from the Classic British Jets Collection’s unique birthday celebration for its de Havilland Sea Vixen


Sea Vixen XJ494 awaits the crowds outside the Whittle Building – 60 years to the day of its maiden flight. A truly remarkable feat from all involved. ALL KEY–JAMIE EWAN

Nicknamed ‘Big Bird’, de Havilland Sea Vixen FAW.2 XJ949 performed ground runs and a wing-fold demonstration on April 14 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its maiden flight.

Taking to the air for the first time in 1959, the aircraft spent much of its career as a trials machine before retiring in 1976 with fewer than 1,000 hours on the airframe. The twin-boom jet has called Bruntingthorpe home since its arrival in 1999 and has undergone extensive restoration to return it to working order. Over the past few months the Classic British Jets Collection (CBJC) has been hard at work on the project. Run by Dave Thomas, this all-volunteer group was created with the aim of keeping a fleet of airframes in groundrunning condition (see April’s FlyPast for a feature on Dave’s Meteor night-fighter).

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