Wednesday 28 September 2022

Lightening the tone: that WW2 pirate's ship returns!

This was to have been your weekend treat, but in light of the global gloom and local BTL burblings, here's a diversion for an autumn Thursday while we wait for CU to bring us more proper economic input ...

Remember this story of aerial derring-do, espionage, and not a little smoke & mirrors?

I promised you'd hear it here first, if and when the legendary Lockheed G-AFTL returned to these shores.  Well, it has.  Registered to Fighter Aviation Engineering Ltd, one Graham Peacock, it is undergoing very careful (and somewhat secretive) restoration at Sywell Aerodrome, Northants.  Aerodromelove that word.

At the same time as the restoration, some equally careful aviation detection work is going on, in the long-running attempt to get to the bottom of some of Cotton's pretty implausible claims and the myths that have grown up around them (which he would have loved).  The old airframe has many secrets to reveal.  Serious progress is being made and a tru-er story may be told some day soon.  I have photos from the inside but I'm not permitted to share them yet - sorry!

Read that story again and enjoy!



Anonymous said...

My guess is the photos in the airframe of the aeroplane in the aerodrome,

Will be denied by the Kremlin,
The White House will neither confirm or deny

Sweden will spend a small fortune coming to the same conclusion about the legendary Lockheed G-AFTL


jim said...

'Aerodrome' struck a chord. Back in the '60s I went to commission some kit at one of the remaining hangars at Croydon. Essentially a thermal testing rig for Concorde. Never been to an aircraft factory before - the noise, the chaos and the scale - quite a shock.

The rig was in effect a giant hairdryer built like an aircraft fuselage, driven by a Volkswagen engine and fitted with about 350 kilowatts worth of immersion heater elements. Fired her up, wound the power up and down without too much smoke or sparks. Never been entirely reassured re safety of aircraft since.

Nick Drew said...

Jim - yes, Croydon remained a modest centre of aviation work for at least 20 years after the last flight. As a schoolboy nearby I would sometimes wander over and bimble around in the hangars: in all the chaos you describe, nobody seemed to mind ! (The 1970s were like that - as an aircraft spotter [you guessed] I walked onto remote corners of RAF airfields, ditto.)

Two of the major lines were (a) refurbishing the Allison turboprops used on RAF C-130 Hercules; and (b) refurbishing and maintaining Tiger Moths!

The wonderful art deco departure lounge, admin building, and control tower are still in use: there's a fairly OK art deco hotel; and a very good visitors centre

But no, Neville Chamberlain did NOT return to Croydon after meeting Adolf ...

Caeser Hēméra said...

Used to enjoy visiting Barton Aerodrome - it is one of those words that is a pleasure to roll off the tongue.

Cotton sounds like one of those people that it's a shame there's been no biopic of, surprising given how taken to humility the Australians are!

Anonymous said...

Sywell Aerodrome is just round the corner from my parents. Maybe they'll get to see a test flight fly over their garden at some point.

I can see from:

That it's being restored by Ultimate Warbird Flights - has or would anyone ever do one of their spitfire flight experiences?

Don Cox said...

My parents met at Croydon Aerodrome. My mother flew small aircraft (jobs such as taking newspapers over to Paris) and my father was an electronics technician.


andrew said...

My father took me to North Weald Aerodrome some Saturdays when I was about 5

There was a transport cafe across the road. Pineapple fritters whilst watching the planes...

Elby the Beserk said...

In my teenage years, our garden backed on to what was then AV Roe's in Woodford, Cheshire.

They had Vulcans :-) Not only did we revel in the noise at take off (sometimes going down a nearby lane to be directly behind the jets, and often able to swing aside the 6' metal fencing and wander around at weekends, getting closer to the great beasts that Vulcans were.

E-K said...

I used to work as a metal surfacing technician at Field Airmotive in Croydon. Refurbishment of jet engines both military and civil was the game and much of it repairing the damage after bird strikes. I got to work on Spitfire parts at one point.

This is highly regulated work and is all done in Imperial measurements. Every single nut and washer has a serial number and a service record.

They'll have their work cut out with G-AFTL.

Nick Drew said...

Kev - fortunately, a 1930's airframe is the sort of thing where you can quite easily machine-tool, or even bench-manufacture, bespoke parts. In those days people used to do basic repairs with carpentry! G-AFTL is riddled with ad hoc mods made over the years - and not just the 'secret' ones done by Cotton**

I'm guessing if it ever flies, the engines will be of a slightly 'non-original' vintage
** or claimed-to-have-been-done by Cotton. It seems one of the camera fits he claimed to have done on G-AFTL didn't happen: it was only done on the second Lockheed in his little fleet (which was typically not flown by him). A classic piece of self-serving Cotton BS, claiming the deeds of others.