Progressing English Electric Lightning, XS422 from restoration to return to flight
Progressing English Electric Lightning, XS422 from restoration to return to flight
The aim of this Kickstarter is to raise £75,000 to return English Electric Lightning XS422 to flight status.
After a 14 year meticulous refurbishment effort by the Anglo American Lightning Organisation (AALO) we are now very close to returning XS422 to flight. The FAA has reviewed our progress and has given us the “amber light” to proceed toward acquiring an Experimental Aircraft Classification. If granted, this will allow us to demonstrate the aircrafts unique capabilities at various U.S.airshows.
The funding being sought via this Kickstarter will initiate the second phase of the project and take us towards our ultimate goal .. Flight. The money we raise will go to expanding the team with legacy aircraft specialists to complete the remaining aircraft refurbishments, develop the documentation required by the FAA, and ultimately give us the potential to fly the aircraft in 2 years or less.
The restoration of XS422 is unique and the aircraft's preservation is important. No-one else in the world is currently restoring an English Electric Lighting with a view to flying it and in all likelihood this will be the last time that such a restoration will be attempted. There is only one other Lightning currently flying in the world.
The 1950’s era design incorporated radical departures from the tried and tested aircraft design types of the time. With it’s severe wing sweep, two Rolls Royce Avon engines mounted one on top of the other, it’s low-set all moving tailplane, and the ailerons on the squared off wing tips, a classic aircraft was born. The Lightning is a unique cold war era aircraft and its flight characteristics are impressive . If you have ever seen a Lightning take off you will never forget the experience. With a greater than 1:1 thrust to weight ratio this aircraft can climb!
Please help us in anyway you can to get this iconic and much loved aircraft back in the air. By participating in this Kickstarter you will be playing a significant role in making this happen. In return you will receive your choice of some great Lightning goodies.
XS422 on Film
If you want to get a full appreciation of what a flying XS422 will look like then the aircraft featured in a 1980's tv documentary, while still flying with the Royal Air Force. Randomly selected, here is a link to one of the places you can find it on Youtube. (XS422 is at the beginning of this 28 min ep).
Where we are now, and the road ahead
XS422 was the chosen airframe for restoration from three that AALO originally purchased. It was considered to be in the best condition and with the least fatigue hours. It is also a 'T.5' two seat trainer.
Throughout the restoration process, the superb team of volunteers, led by Chief Engineer, Phil Wallis, have painstakingly transformed the airframe and thousands of parts and components into a live, engine running, aircraft once again.
That was phase one. The next phase is a new goal entirely and that is to get XS422 finished to a standard of airworthiness and then certified for flight. This is where you can really help through donating.
Naturally going forward, the donated time and skills of the engineering team will not alone suffice. There will be significant costs in the next stage of the restoration, with purchasing missing inventory items, fuel for engine testing, preparation and collation of the necessary documentation, and to grow the existing team of experienced engineers for the 'surge' to first flight. The cost of this process can only an estimation at this stage but we hope your generosity, in return for some great Lightning goodies, will help us reach our goal to get this iconic and much loved aircraft back in the air.
The Future for XS422
Post Restoration, being a unique and historic aircraft, there are undoubted educational benefits to be shared, as well as the enjoyment that thousands of members of the public will get from airshow performances.
The intention is to operate the aircraft for show, as well as to welcome students of engineering and aviation design to Stennis Airport to study an example of early British jet heritage.
We sincerely hope you'll help us with funding to get this wonderful aircraft preserved and flying again, but we'd like to make sure you don't go away empty handed so we've been hard at work to find some fantastic and very 'Lightning' rewards. At the top of the rewards 'pile' we have a fantastic opportunity to you to visit XS422 at her Stennis home in the USA.
A little lower down, our great friend Ian Black, the last operational Lightning pilot with the Royal Air Force, has kindly offered to present a special talk to a very limited number of people at the Gatwick Aviation Museum and show them around the museum's Lightning. On top of which you'll get a signed copy of his book and a limited edition updated reprint of Classic Aviation's 'English Electric Lightning.
There's also the fine hand-made model of XS422. These are very limited.
Other rewards include the stunning AALO patch.
Your name on an AALO patch (max 15 characters inc spaces)
There are AALO Polo shirts in white and black.
You can get yourself kitted out for the summer in a Mississippi Thunder round neck T-shirt, available in white or Navy Blue.
And not forgetting we've teamed up with Squadron Prints to produce a wonderful enamel coin with numbers very limited to 422. These are highly collectable so we anticipate they will go fast.
And a little something extra ... Everyone who participates by choosing a reward, be it £5 or £5000, will automatically be in the running for the lovely 10" pewter Lightning pictured below. We'll choose one of the rewardees at random for this special thank you.
Polo Shirt Sizes
XS(36) S(38) M(40) L(42-44) XL(46) 2XL(48) 3XL(50-52) 4XL(54)
T Shirt Sizes
XS(36) S(38) M(40) L(42-44) XL(46) 2XL(48) 3XL(50-52)
A little more backstory on the English Electric Lightning?
Conceived and designed by W.E.W Petter in the late 40’s and early 50’s to fill a gap in the RAF’s inventory for a supersonic interceptor, with a goal of mach 2, the English Electric Lightning was always going to be a bit special.
After a number of years in the test programme and after a couple of prototype versions, including the Shorts sponsored SB.5 and the English Electric P.1s, one of which Roly Beamont took through mach 2 in November 1958, July 1959 saw the delivery of the first F.1 to AFDS at RAF Coltishall. Only around 345 Lightnings were ever built and during its time in service it went through a number of improvements and Mks, culminating in the F6. As well as the single seat interceptors a small number of 2 seat training aircraft were built, of which XS422 is an example. The export market for the Lightning never really took off although it did find favour in the Middle East with both the Saudi and Kuwait Air Forces Operating the aircraft. Principally though the Lightning earned its keep during the cold war as a QRA Interceptor on the UK's east coast and in Germany. To give some indication of the outstanding service that the only truly British built, supersonic fighter, gave to the RAF and the country you only have to look at another date, and for many the saddest, in the Lightning’s history, that of 30th April 1988. It was on this date that 11 sqdn, RAF Binbrook, took its final curtain call, and with it went the last front-line operational Lightning aircraft in RAF service. The Lightning had been in RAF service for over 28 years, a remarkable achievement and testament.
The Restoration Team
The team restoring XS422 are a mixture of serving and retired Royal Air Force engineers, and skilled volunteers, many with aviation and engineering backgrounds. We also have a number of specialist volunteers in the United States and also highly qualified engineers participating globally.
The calibre of the team is evident in the quality of the restoration. The AALO is an entirely voluntary group with all monies donated and raised going to the restoration of XS422. The Engineers who have worked on the aircraft over the years have been accommodated and afforded transport while on site but have given their time and skills gratis.
You can find a full list of contributors, past and present, on our website but below are the current active team, some with short biogs;
Andrew Brodie, Project Champion. Andrew's background is car restoration, specialising in classic Citroens and Masaratis. Together with Jon Roth, Phil Wallis and Max Waldron, he founded the group restoring XS422
Phil Wallis, Chief Engineer. Phil is ex RAF with a total of 31 years service, 12 years of which was based at RAF Binbrook (the home of the Lightning) working both in Depth Maintenace and front line service with No11(F) Squadron untill the Lightning left service in 1988. Since then, Phil has amassed a further 26 years experience supporting the Lightning preservation movement both in the UK and the USA. After leaving the RAF Phil continued working closely with the RAF and spent 5 years at RAF Northolt in the role of Aircraft Maintenance Manager for No32 (The Royal) Squadron. Currently, he is part of the BAE Systems Typhoon Availability Service support contract based at RAF Conningsby again in the role of Maintenance Manager.
David Tylee, Deputy Chief Engineer. Outside of his volunteering with XS422 and at the Gatwick Museum, where he is a trustee, along with AALO engineer Milton Roach, Dave is a Certifying Engineer at Virgin Atlantic.
Bob Simms US Project Manager. Bob recently retired from 32 years at Lockheed Martin, the last 11 of which he was the Director of Program Management and Advanced Programs. Prior to that he was with British Aerospace for 18 years. In his early career he was involved in assembling Lightnings on the production line.
Charles Scott Investment Co-ordinator
Engineers - Dave Yates, Jason Skinner, Milton Roach, Andy Middleton, Gary Hurst, John Sherry, Derek 'Bo' Brocklesby, Simon Johnson, Paul Oughton, Dave Dunn
Consultant Pilots - Craig Penrice, Ian Black, Tom Koelzer, Keith Hartly
Volunteers - Nic Holman (Public Relations), Nick Woodhouse, Bob Newton, Bill Norman, Dave Snowdy, Kevin Centanni, Vernon Asper, John Wigney and Phil Kingsbury.
Risks and challenges
A natural part of the return to flight of a historic jet aircraft is inspection and certification by the FAA (Federal Aviaition Authority). This is quite rightly a thorough and robust process to ensure the safety of our aircraft, those who maintain and fly it, and those members of the public who come into contact with it. It is not guarenteed however and while our goal is flying XS422, there is always the possibility that we may not pass muster at the first attempt.
The team of engineers restoring XS422 are specialist engineers, both in 'Legacy aircraft' and in the Lightning. Their combined expertise and experience means that XS422 will be presented for certification in the most professional manner, and we hope, therefore certified airworthy.
The money raised through the Kickstarter will be used to get XS422 as close to a certifiable state as possible.
- (28 days)