Another example of the Hawker fighter has been grounded — and only one other may fly again as Swiss classic jet scene dwindles
In early October, Swiss organisation Amici dell’Hunter announced that it had ceased flight operations with its Sion-based two-seat Hawker Hunter T68, J-4201/HB-RVR, and that the aircraft has been sold to Lortie Aviation in Canada. The Quebec defence contracting firm operates an extensive fleet of Hunters on tactical combat training duties around the world, and has acquired several examples that were previously well-known on the European airshow circuit, including Jonathon Whaley’s F58A G-PSST Miss Demeanour and, more recently, F6A XF515/G-KAXF from the Dutch Hawker Hunter Foundation.
The sale of HB-RVR means there is no longer the possibility to undertake a Hunter passenger ride in Switzerland, all other two-seat examples formerly active in the country having been grounded or sold. Switzerland’s last flying single-seat Hunter, F58 J-4040/HB-RVS of the Hunterverein Obersimmental — painted as J-4015 ‘Papyrus’ — has also been unable to take to the air since October 2022, when it was ferried from its base at St Stephan to Altenrhein for maintenance. Since that arrangement was ended, the Hunterverein Obersimmental has been examining the use of foreign technicians to work on its aircraft, in order to allow ‘Papyrus’ to fly for one more season in 2024 prior to its final grounding.
Amici dell’Hunter’s decision to cease operations is the latest blow to the once thriving Swiss classic jet scene, which has dwindled significantly in recent months. Earlier this year the Clin d’Ailes association’s Mirage IIIDS was grounded, making its final flight in May. Its operator pushed hard for a rethink, but the authorities were not to be mollified, having cited, to quote Clin d’Ailes, “the aging of certain parts and components of the engine.”
And having retired its tiger-striped Hunter, T68 HB-RVV, the Fliegermuseum Altenrhein is selling its two-seat Vampire T55s, citing the lack of properly qualified technicians to maintain them. Just one privately owned Vampire trainer, HB-RVF, has recently been active in Switzerland.