Landmark F53 plane gets new home

The Lightning F53 at BAE Samlesbury
The Lightning F53 at BAE Samlesbury
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A landmark Lancashire plane has landed at a new home in Cornwall.

The English Electric Lightning F53 that for over 20 years stood outside BAE Systems in Samlesbury is to become part of the Air Force collection in Newquay, Cornwall.

The aircraft’s future was reviewed after it was removed from the gate at Samlesbury amid concerns that exposure to the elements had taken their toll on the structure.

BAE Systems shipped the dismantled Lightning to Gateguards UK, who will make moulds in order to create a replica which is waterproof.

Gateguards managing director David Hobson said: “The Lancashire weather had done its worst, but CAT have quite a track record for bringing aircraft back from the brink. We gave them a call and experienced slight deafness from their enthusiasm.”

Tim Skeet, chairman of the Classic Aircraft Trust, added: “We’re incredibly grateful to both Gateguards and BAE Systems for working together to bring a fabulous machine like this to us.”

The fighter is a veteran of the Cold War, dating back to the 1950s, and was one of only a handful of aircraft able to go supersonic while climbing.

Trevor Bailey, CAF’s aviation director, said: “It’s perfect for our collection. This was one of the all-time greatest British fighters and right bang in our specialist era, the Cold War. When I found its first flight was in the hands of legendary Roland Beamont, I knew we had to find a way to acquire it.