Chris Roberts reports progress on the restoration XL623.…
The weather was kind to us in 2018; XL 623 is stored in the open at Dunsfold so progress could have been badly affected. Although it was cold, the lack of rain or snow allowed Paul Rash and the team to prepare the first parts for transfer to the workshop at Brooklands. It is always risky not naming everyone who has helped, but we must thank Dave Cotton and Dave Collingridge for their expertise and time.
The project plan required the first components to be ready for moving by the end of 2018. The tail cone, fin, rudder and elevators were moved there in December and are now being worked on so it is great to be on target. The Brooklands workshop is not hangar size so is unable to take very large components or complete aircraft. The rear fuselage will be the first major section to go there because it has the worst corrosion and is the biggest restoration challenge. It is planned to have it at Brooklands in February.
We have had help from contacts and supporters in the
form of free use of a crane and forklift to move the fuselage sections
and to lift off the 12 ft. span tailplane; it does not look that big
when fixed to the base of the fin! These jobs need to be handled
resourcefully so that our funds are not depleted quickly on things like
hire charges. Brooklands has loaned the project ground support
equipment to hold the pieces and transport them to the museum.
The Hawker Association is managing the Hunter as two separate projects. The preservation of the airframe is the prime project, the aim being to preserve XL623 for long term public display. The secondary project is to position the aircraft in a prominent public location (ideally in Kingston) with assured long term stewardship. Through the efforts of the Hawker Association and the Centenary Project there is an ever increasing number of people made aware of, and proud of, the achievements of everyone who worked in the local aviation industry and of the aircraft designed and built in Kingston.
The preservation of XL623 is within our capability with involvement and support from Brooklands. The cost, only a few thousand pounds, should be primarily for materials. Contributions from Association members have now reached almost £2000 and we believe that the first aim can be achieved by the end of next year.
The second aim, to place the aircraft, is the difficult and expensive part. We cannot achieve this without support from other agencies and a lot of funding. We need a site, and if the aircraft is to be mounted back on the ‘Woking pole’ and installed at the site we must raise £30,000 to £50,000. Such a task needs to be managed well by a good team so we are seeking more help. This level of fund raising will need a different approach to that for the aircraft itself, and it seems that one potential source (other than finding a lucky Lotto winner) will be the Kingston business community. We need a team that will relish this challenge or the involvement, so please consider joining us. Meanwhile we still need donations for restoration of the aircraft; the most important aim.
You might wonder what we will do with XL623 if we cannot return it to the top of the pole in a prime position in Kingston. Actually there are other options so we are considering installing the undercarriage during the restoration to give us flexibility in siting so fulfilling our primary aim for the project: to preserve XL623 for long term public display.
If you would like to donate to this important project or volunteer to help with fund raising please contact Chris Roberts by phone on 07799 641674 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.