Historic jet plane gets engineering 'wings'

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Jetting through the sky at twice the speed of sound, the Lightning was the pride of Lancashire and the envy of the world.

Developed by English Electric at their bases in Preston, Warton and Samlesbury, the jet could achieve speeds of 1,500mph and was the pinnacle of British defence during the Cold War.

Now the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has honoured the jet with an Engineering Heritage Award in recognition of the massive technological advancements that were made in producing it.

Former pilots and engineers, who were involved with the plane during the 1950s and 1960s, gathered at BAE Systems in Warton to mark the engineering feat.

John Cockburn, 70, lived in Midge Hall, Leyland, for 30 years and worked as a test pilot on the Lightning as well as being part of the team who developed the plane's radar.

He said: "It was just a different level from anything that had gone before but we got used to it – it was very easy to fly. It was the envy of the world."

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