One of only two genuine T11s airworthy in the world takes to the skies after almost 20 years
Nearly two decades after it left the UK in 2006, de Havilland Vampire T11 XE920/N920DH flew again at Ogden, Utah, on 8 January following restoration by Ultimate Aviation for its owners, the Flying History Foundation in Preston, Idaho.
The 1955-vintage, ex-RAF trainer was sold by the Ministry of Defence in 1992, flying on the British civil register as G-VMPR at Hawarden during 1996. The aircraft is now one of only two genuine ex-RAF T11s airworthy in the world, the other being the Coventry-based WZ507/G-VTII. While still in RAF ownership, XE920 was earmarked for a resurrection of the Vintage Pair team following the collision between Meteor T7 WA669 and Vampire T11 XH304 at Mildenhall in 1986, but any such plans came to an end after the loss of its other Meteor, WF791, at Coventry on 30 May 1988.
The president of Ultimate Aviation, John Hammans — ex-US Air Force and a 26-year veteran of the Reno Air Races — says, “There were no airworthy Vampires in the US at the time I started bringing them back to life in 2014. I have restored to flying condition six other Vampires prior to this one and still have three more to do. This one has been the most challenging to get flying to date. I have been working on this jet for seven years, only getting a few weeks per year to accomplish it.”
For an extended report, see the March issue of Aeroplane, out in mid-February.