Unique Desford makes final flight

The one-off Reid and Sigrist Desford completed its final flight on 19 August, on delivery to the Newark Air Museum

Dan Griffith brings the unique Reid and Sigrist RS4 Desford in to land at Newark.
Dan Griffith brings the unique Reid and Sigrist RS4 Desford in to land at Newark. KEY/BEN DUNNELL

The only Reid and Sigrist Desford, VZ728/G-AGOS, was delivered by air to the Newark Air Museum on Friday 19 August, thereby bringing its flying career to a close. Test and display pilot Dan Griffith delivered the unique 1945-vintage twin from Spanhoe, Northamptonshire, where it had been restored to airworthiness by Windmill Aviation. He landed the Desford on a grass strip within the Newark Showground site, after which it was pushed along the access road into the adjacent museum premises.

The future of G-AGOS, which was conceived — and initially flew — as a trainer, designated as the RS3, before being modified to RS4 configuration for prone pilot trials beginning in 1951, had been uncertain for some time. Owned by Leicestershire County Council from 2005, having previously been loaned to the council-run Leicestershire Museum Service since 1991, the Desford was stored at the Snibston Discovery Park at Coalville, there being insufficient room to put it on public display. When the council decided to close Snibston, questions were raised over where the aeroplane could be kept. In 2014 it was moved to Spanhoe, where, following a survey to determine the suitability of the project, Windmill Aviation embarked upon a return to flight, headed up by the company’s boss Carl Tyers. This culminated on 22 April 2018, when G-AGOS took to the air for the first time since 1978.

However, the Desford was not to be seen in public, except during photo-shoot events at Spanhoe. While its test-flying programme was completed in December 2020, Leicestershire County Council decided the aircraft would not continue to be flown, and agreed to retire it to the Newark Air Museum.  On arrival, G-AGOS was initially put into the NAM’s Hangar 2, but will in future be permanently exhibited in Hangar 1.

For more on the Desford, look out for a full feature in the November issue of Aeroplane.

The Desford about to shut down at the conclusion of its final flight.
The Desford about to shut down at the conclusion of its final flight. KEY/BEN DUNNELL