Thunder & Lightnings

Blackburn Buccaneer - Survivor ZU-BCR (ex XW987)

S.2B ZU-BCR - Hangar 51 Aviation, (runner) Cape Town, South Africa

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Buccaneer S.2B ZU-BCR at Cape Town, 13th January 2022; Rayno Snyman

XW987 was delivered to RAE in 1974 where it took part it several test trials. The airframe used to wear an odd yellow, green and black paint scheme while in service with the RAE at West Freugh which was specially designed to show up on photographs of the weapons trials conducted. It soon lost the scheme and was repainted into raspberry ripple colours, however, she started to look a bit patchy by the end with a camouflage coloured fin, white nose cone, and unpainted intakes.

XW987 was purchased by Mike Beachy Head in 1995 and arrived in South Africa from the UK on May 2nd 1997. After her arrival, she was painted in overall black and had Shell logos applied, she flew more or less continuously from then until 2010. Unfortunately with Thunder City being effectively shut down by the SA CAA after identifying various maintenance failings that cost pilot Dave Stock his life in the crash of their Lightning ZU-BEX, meant ZU-BCR was grounded along with the rest of the fleet. She was put up for sale in 2011 but later returned to the air in February 2012 for private flights only - meaning they could no longer advertise back seat flights to the public. Sadly, Thunder City closed around 2016, and all airframes were towed outside for storage, waiting for a new owner to come along.

Thankfully, the news many have been waiting to hear, is that ZU-BCR along with the other airframes were purchased by Hangar 51 Aviation based in South Africa in late 2021, with the vision to return a few of them to the air once again for all to enjoy! On the 13th January 2022, XW987 roared back into life for the first time since 2016, carrying out a successful static engine run.

Information on this page current as of 27/01/2022, last updated by Jake

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