Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Lightning

Survivor ZU-BBD (ex XS452)

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ZU-BBD - Mike Beachy Head (for sale), Cape Town, South Africa

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Lightning T.5 ZU-BBD at Cape Town, 2001; Hugh Trevor

XS452 first flew on 30th June 1965 and begin her service career with the OCU at Coltishall in September of that year. She ended her career with the LTF at Binbrook, and on disposal in 1988 was bought by Arnold Glass as part of his plan to operate several Lightnings. Flown to Cranfield, she mouldered away there while Arnold's plan came to nothing and ended up being sold to Tony Hulls of T5 Projects for restoration to taxiable condition. Mike Beachyhead then made Tony an offer he couldn't refuse, transported her to Cape Town and with Barry Pover's Classic Jets completed the restoration to full airworthy condition and in 2001 she flew again, as you can see from the photo. Mike's Thunder City operation ran the aircraft for passenger flights until November 2009, when a fatal accident claimed the life of pilot Dave Stock whilst flying one of Thunder City's other Lightnings, XS451. The SA CAA's initial investigation found that the ejector seat and canopy seperation mechanisms had both failed, and Thunder City had not serviced the seat when it was due in September 2009, instead extending the service interval by 30 days and then another 45. This began a sequence of events whereby the SA CAA looked harder at the question of operation ex-military types on the civilian register and reportedly revoked TC's Air Operating Certificate. Worryingly it is reported that they continued flying regardless - e.g. see here. In September 2010, Thunder City put out a press release saying that they were shutting down operations, blaming the financial climate and inconsistencies in how the SA CAA applied their regulations. It seems this is the end of the Lightning in civilian ownership in South Africa and all of the TC airframes are apparently now up for sale.

Information on this page current as of 09/112010

Find other photos of ZU-BBD on the following sites:

Air-Britain - Airliners.net - Airplane-Pictures.net - flickr.com - WorldAirPics.com - JetPhotos.net - PlanePictures.net - Vertical Reality