F6 arrives at Binbrook as birthday present for legendary ex-Lightning unit boss
On 10 July a 40ft container masquerading as an Airfix kit box arrived at Binbrook, Lincolnshire, carrying English Electric Lightning F6 XP693 which will now be reassembled at the nascent, two-acre RAF Binbrook Heritage Centre.
The Lightning had arrived at Immingham Docks on 9 July from Cape Town, South Africa, where it had been part of the Thunder City fleet, operating with the registration ZU-BEY. Following the closure of the Thunder City operation in 2016, XP693 had sat outside at Cape Town, facing an uncertain future.
Former RAF Lightning pilot and author Ian Black has now stepped in to save the aircraft as a present for his father, the arrival at Binbrook coinciding with the 91st birthday of AVM George Black CB OBE AFC & Bar. Black senior commanded No 111 Squadron and then the Lightning operational conversion unit.
Lightning XP693 made its maiden flight as an F3 model on 16 June 1962, but never went into RAF service, being retained by BAC for development purposes. It flew on avionics development work for the Panavia Tornado programme, was used for cannon-firing trials and as a high-speed target. It was not retired until late 1992.