Thunder & Lightnings

English Electric Lightning - Survivor XR724

F.6 XR724 - Lightning Association, Binbrook airfield, Lincolnshire

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Lightning F.6 XR724 at Binbrook, December 2020; Lightning Association

Built as an F.3 and first flown on 10th February 1965, XR724 was retained by BAC and converted to an F.6 before being issued to 11 Squadron in 1967. She also served with 5 Squadron (and in 1979 wore both 11 and 5 Squadron markings as that year's display aircraft) and also the LTF. She finished her career with 5 Squadron at the end of 1987 and was then flown back to Warton to put into use by BAe for Tornado F.3 radar target duties.

She was withdrawn from use in mid 1990 and then put up for sale in 1991. The Lightning Association successfully bid for her, had her registered as G-BTSY and flown back to her spiritual home of Binbrook on 23rd July 1992. Unfortunately, they then had problems with access to their own aircraft there, including months of being unable to work on her, and soon lost their use of one of the hangars. So while they tried to keep her in taxiable condition, taxi runs have been few and far between. With the airfield now being sold in chunks, and very little left of the concrete areas on which runs were performed, XR724's prospects have looked bleak for some time.

On my visit in 2002 she was stored round the back of one of the hangars, but is now within a secure compound elsewhere on the remains of the airfield, though this means she's outdoors. Briefly allowed into one of the hangars, she soon became hemmed in by stored farm machinery and then had to be moved outside again. Her condition visibly deteriorated with significant corrosion (including holed and delaminating skin panels), flat tyres, and a general air of neglect.

Thankfully 2010/11 saw a renewal of engineering work on the aircraft which has waxed and waned somewhat since, but there is still hope that XR724 may run once more, particularly as more work has been going on in recent years. The latest bit of good news that the group applied for planning permission for a temporary hangar to house XR724 in. Happily, they were granted permission and early 2023 saw the volunteers assembling a temporary hangar which will can now give XR724 a rest bite from the elements.

You can keep up with their progress on their website Lightning Association.

Information on this page current as of 07/04/2023, last updated by Jake

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