Curtain call for Gatwick’s Dart Herald?

The UK Heritage Aviation Trust (UKHAT) – which aims to “pay tribute to those that designed, built, maintained and flew the aircraft that once graced our skies” – has announced it is no longer in a position to save Handley Page Dart Herald G-CEXP…

The UK Heritage Aviation Trust (UKHAT) – which aims to “pay tribute to those that designed, built, maintained and flew the aircraft that once graced our skies” – have announced it is no longer in a position to save Handley Page Dart Herald G-CEXP, which currently sits in a field near the western end of Gatwick Airport, where it has been since 2003. In a statement released earlier today (October 6, 2022), the UKHAT, which began its campaign in September 2017, said: “It is with a heavy heart that we have been informed by Gatwick Airport that we have run out of time to rescue Handley Page Dart Herald G-CEXP. Due to operational reasons and the fact that she is on a live airfield, plus funding – which has always been an issue – ‘XP’ will no longer be saved and restored by UK Heritage Aviation Trust.”

What does the future hold for G-CEXP?
What does the future hold for G-CEXP? UKAHT

Having revealed plans to relocate the 1968-vintage turboprop airliner – one of only four examples of the 50 built to survive – to Sellindge, near Ashford, Kent, where it planned to carry out restoration work, with the ultimate aim of returning it to ground running condition, the UKHAT’s plans were halted with airport expansion plans calling for the airframe to be relocated by the end of October 2022. And despite its efforts to raise the needed £60,000 to dismantle and move the aircraft, just half of the figure had been reportedly raised by August this year.

In its statement, the UKAHT added: “It is now most likely to be cut up. We tried our best and even with TV interviews and vast amounts of social media coverage, we were not able to raise the funds needed to remove her from Gatwick Airport. Following this devastating news, as a trust we will spend the coming months deciding our future direction.  We will not be rushing into any future project without a lot of thought and planning. In terms of money raised through our Go-Fund-Me Page we will be contacting donors individually, offering a full refund.”

Rolling off the Handley Page production and taking the air for the first time in 1968, the aircraft was delivered to Israeli carrier Arkia as 4X-AHO. It later served as G-BFRJ with Express Air Freight, I-ZERC with Soc. Columbia and Channel Express as G-CEXP from 1987 until 1996. Withdrawn from use, ‘X-Ray-Papa’ served as a part of the Sky View display on the roof of Gatwick's South Terminal from 1996 to 2003, before being relocated to its current location. At the time of the announcement, there was no official word on the airframe’s fate from Gatwick Airport.

Seen here landing at Birmingham on August 1, 1989 while on strength with Channel Express, G-CEXP's future looks somewhat bleak following this announcin
Seen here landing at Birmingham on August 1, 1989 while on strength with Channel Express, G-CEXP's future looks somewhat bleak following this announcin AIRTEAMIMAGES-KEITH BLINC