Thunder & Lightnings

Hawker Hunter - Survivor XF967 (ZU-CTN, ex G-BZRI)

T.8B XF967 - Hangar 51 Aviation, Cape Town, South Africa

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Hunter T.8B XF967 at Thunder City, 31st October 2012; Francis Wallace

XF967 Built as a Hunter F4 at Blackpool which first flew in April 1956 and was delivered to the RAF at No.5 MU at Kemble on 1 May 1956. The aircraft was operated by No 3 Squadron coded Z for sometime before returning Hawker Siddeley Aviation in 1963 where she was converted to Hunter T8B, (one of three) for the Royal Navy. She was later transferred to the RAF and flown by No 237 Operational Conversion Unit for Buccaneer pilot training. In the mid-1990s, XF967 was flown to RAF Cranwell Engineering and Training Squadron where she was kept in flightworthy condition up until 1999 when it went up for sale.

Mike Beachy Head purchased the aircraft in 2000s who transported it to his growing collection of classic jet aircraft based in South Africa, known as Thunder City. After much restoration work, the airframe gained the serial ZU-CTN and took to the skies for many years. Sadly in 2009, Thunder City's Lightning XS421 crashed, costing Dave Stock his life. After this incident, the fleet was temporarily grounded while the CAA did an investigation on both the crash and their facility. They managed to gain CAA approval once again but stated that the company would be closing, and that from then onwards they would only by making private flights. After all of this, ZU-CTN was permanently grounded, and instead got one of their other Hunters flightworthy. In 2016, the collection closed its doors for good, putting the collection up for sale, and placing them outside in storage while waiting for a new owner to come along.

Thankfully, the news many have been waiting to hear, is that ZU-CTN along with the other airframes on-site were purchased by Hangar 51 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!

Information on this page current as of 12/01/2022, last updated by Jake

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