UKHAT takes on Vampire

The fuselage pod of Vampire T11 XE956/G-OBLN at St Athan.
DUNCAN HALFORD

The UK Heritage Aviation Trust (UKHAT) — the organisation working to rescue Handley Page Herald G-CEXP from the fire compound at Gatwick Airport — has widened its remit by entering into partnership with Canada-based Briton Jon Vivash to restore his de Havilland Vampire T11, XE956/G-OBLN.

The jet trainer has been delivered to UKHAT’s base at St Athan in south Wales, and work is commencing on cataloguing and photographing the component parts. “She’s encouragingly complete, and in pretty good condition cosmetically”, said Duncan Halford, chairman of UKHAT. “It’s too early yet to say whether she can fly again, but we’re optimistic.”

Halford sees this as a significant step forward in the charity’s declared goals. “Our aim is to provide support for the protection and preservation of classic aircraft. This partnership with Jon is a perfect fit; it’s a demonstration that we’re not limiting our attention to just our own aircraft but working for the good of historic aviation in general”. Funding will come from the owner, though there will eventually be a range of merchandise on offer to help with the cost of the project and for future running and maintenance costs.

Regarding the Herald, Duncan says, “The rescue of ‘CEXP is moving into a new phase. Because of the location, it’s been impossible to work on her until she could be moved from Gatwick’s airside. Thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of the airport, it now looks as if that’s about to change. We’re hoping to get started very shortly on cleaning and preparing her for a move. If there’s anyone in striking distance of Gatwick who’s willing to volunteer fingernails and knuckle skin, now’s the time to volunteer your help”. If you can assist, please contact Duncan Halford at chairman@ukhat.org.