The Royal Navy Historic Flight officially disbanded on 31 March, having been in existence at RNAS Yeovilton since 1972. A news release said, “Over the next few months, responsibility for maintaining and flying the aircraft is expected to transfer to the charity Navy Wings, securing their long-term future flying as civilian rather than military aircraft.”
The list of aeroplanes involved is headed by Swordfish I W5856, which has recently been ground-run, and Swordfish II LS326, which has not flown for a few years. The other aircraft in the RNHF’s inventory upon its disbandment were Chipmunk T10 WK608, Sea Fury FB11 VR930, Sea Hawk FGA6 WV908 and Swordfish III NF389.
“Negotiating the gifting of military heritage assets can be a lengthy process”, Navy Wings said, “but the Royal Navy and Navy Wings are working closely together to finalise details of the transfer, ensuring that the aircraft will not be lost to the nation and will continue to fly on the air display circuit for years to come”. Further details of the switch to the UK civil register will be announced in due course. “It is an emotional day”, added Lt Cdr Mark Jameson, the RNHF’s last commanding officer, “but the Royal Navy is intent on keeping the aircraft flying”. For several years, Navy Wings — through its operational arm, Naval Aviation Ltd — has supplemented the RNHF’s aircraft with its own civil-registered aeroplanes, namely Sea Fury T20 VX281/G-RNHF, which will be on the circuit again in 2019, and Sea Vixen FAW2 XP924/G-CVIX, awaiting a return to airworthiness following its wheels-up landing in 2017.