Science Museum looking to loan airliners

A recent view of L-749 Constellation N7777G in one of the large storage hangars at Wroughton.

On 16 April, the Science Museum Group made the surprise announcement that it is seeking UK partners to publicly display three significant aircraft from its collection that are currently stored at Wroughton, Wiltshire. The aeroplanes — Lockheed L-749 Constellation N7777G, de Havilland DH106 Comet 4B G-APYD and Hawker Siddeley Trident 3B G-AWZM — are available for public display as part of the ambition to increase access to objects from the Science Museum for audiences across the UK. The Trident was acquired from British Airways in 1986, the Comet from Dan-Air in 1979, and the Constellation from film flying outfit Aces High in 1983. The L-749 is the only ‘Connie’ in the UK.

Sir Ian Blatchford, director of the Science Museum Group says, “Sharing our outstanding collection with more people is key to our mission. While star objects such as Tim Peake’s spacecraft tend to grab the headlines, we actually loan several thousand objects to museums around the UK each year. But there is still more we can do and this is an exciting opportunity for cultural organisations to partner with us and help put three significant aircraft on public display. We can’t wait to see who applies”. Online applications were requested by 10 June.

Science Museum collection communications manager Will Stanley adds, “The conditions and procedures are the same as for other loans made by the Science Museum Group. These cover insurance, security, conservation, transport and other areas. The aircraft need to be appropriately protected to ensure their long-term condition remains good. We generally expect that this means being housed under cover.

“Costs associated with the loan, including transport, must be paid for by the organisation borrowing the aircraft.

However, given the exceptional size of these items, the Science Museum Group may be able to contribute in this case.”

Regarding the possibility that no new home can be found for the airliners, Stanley replies, “The aircraft will continue to be part of the Science Museum Group collection. They will remain in storage at the National Collections Centre as they are too large to display in our own museums.

“The ambitious project we announced last year (for Wroughton) will transform how we care for and share our remarkable collection with the world. Construction has begun on a new collection management facility at the National Collections Centre at Wroughton that will house 80 per cent of the collection and be open regularly from 2023 for public tours, school and research visits. While we prepare the facility to open in 2023, public access to the National Collections Centre is restricted. In light of this and a review of the collection which highlighted the potential interest in these aircraft, we have announced this exciting opportunity to return these aircraft to public display.”



One of the UK’s pioneering private operators of airworthy historic aircraft, Lindsey Walton, died on 3 April. The popular Lincolnshirebased farmer and pilot campaigned Nord 1002 (Bf 108) G-ATBG for many years, most often painted in Luftwaffe colours. He also brought F4U-7 Corsair NX1337A to the UK, the first civilian-owned example of the fighter to be based on these shores. A full appreciation will appear next month. BEN DUNNELL

JEZ COOKE 1953-2019

Vintage aircraft display pilot Jeremy ‘Jez’ Cooke died in March after a short illness. Amongst other things a Formula 1 air race competitor, executive jet captain and air traffic controller, Cooke was best-known in recent years as the regular pilot of Richard Seeley’s Travel Air Type R ‘Mystery Ship’ replica G-TATR.



At Oshkosh, Wisconsin on 20 April, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s North American B-25H Mitchell 43-4432 flew again following a four-year restoration. It still wears the nose art Berlin Express originally applied back in 1969 when it appeared in the film Catch-22.


Ex-Fleet Air Arm test pilot Paul Stone, who has flown with the Shuttleworth Collection for 23 years, has been appointed as the Old Warden-based collection’s new chief pilot, and takes over from Roger ‘Dodge’ Bailey for the 2019 season. ‘Dodge’ will, however, continue to fly with the collection.


Lt Col Richard E. Cole, Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot in the lead B-25 Mitchell during the legendary raid on Japan on 18 April 1942, passed away in Antonio, Texas on 9 April at the age of 103. He was buried with full military honours at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on 18 April, the 77th anniversary of the raid.