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, 27th April 2024; 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. Finishing her career with 5 Squadron at the end of 1987, she 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She was withdrawn from use in mid 1990 and then put up for sale in 1991.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 were few and far between. With the airfield then sold off in chunks, and very little left of the concrete areas on which runs were performed, XR724's prospects looked bleak for some time.

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 - this waxed and waned somewhat since, but in the last 5 years or so the team have really got going, with planning permission for a temporary hangar granted in 2023 and the aircraft then going undercover. This has enabled some serious work on the aircraft's systems, and a repaint has also begun. The latest news as of 27th April 2024 is that she's had her first successful starter firing since 2007, and should hopefully be running her engines later this year.

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

Information on this page current as of 28/04/2024, last updated by Damien

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