Day a special  aircraft was added to Doncaster borough’s South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum collection

Jetstream aircraft at RAF Leeming in 1979
Jetstream aircraft at RAF Leeming in 1979

A special aircraft has been added to the collection of Doncaster’s South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum.

It was with great pleasure that the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum (SYAM) at Dakota Way, Airbourne Road, Doncaster, received an offer to gift it a Jetstream – an RAF multi-engined training aircraft, from Bedford College.

Jetstream being rebuilt at South Yorkshire aircraft Museum

Jetstream being rebuilt at South Yorkshire aircraft Museum

The college had bought the aircraft, serial number XX495 coded ‘C’, in 2005, shortly after its retirement from RAF service, to use in their aviation engineering training courses.

This particular aircraft was part of the flight serving at RAF Finningley when the airfield closed in 1996.

It then moved across to RAF Cranwell. Before it was based at RAF Finningley, it was previously based at RAF Leeming (North Yorkshire) until 1979.

Forty years ago on April 30, all the Jetstreams at Leeming moved to join six Flying Training School (6 FTS), which was based at Finningley.

Working on the Jetstream at Finningley Airfield

Working on the Jetstream at Finningley Airfield

Of particular significance to South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum, is that one of the Museum’s current volunteers, Mick Andrews, was part of the ground crew looking after these aircraft and he moved to Finningley along with the aircraft.

There he remained keeping the Jetstreams flying for the next eight years until he left the Royal Airforce. Although it won’t be flying anymore, Mick is looking forward to helping look after it again.

For all the above reasons, particularly its local connection to the Doncaster area, the Museum trustees confirmed that they would be delighted to accept this gift and it would be a great addition to the collection for just a lot of volunteer hours work and the transport costs, not inconsiderable but definitely a very good investment.

With a few weeks to formulate the plan and arrange the transport, much midnight oil was burnt.

Jetstream at RAF Leeming

Jetstream at RAF Leeming

The manuals had to be consulted to find out exactly which nuts and bolts would need to be removed and what equipment would be required to, firstly, get it out of the building it was in at its location, and then loaded onto the two trucks to bring it ‘home’ to Doncaster.

Once the plan was agreed, transport was booked with Chris Wright (Baildon) for two lorries with lifting gear to transport the aircraft to the museum.

The Museum has often used Chris’s range of transport to move its aircraft wherever they were needed, as we can always rely on lots of help and advice from their experienced drivers, this time Andrew and Paul.

Moving an aircraft without causing massive damage is not the easiest of tasks so it is important that everyone can work together in ,moving the aircraft.

On two trips down to Bedford, South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum volunteers, Bill, Naylan, James and Steve, spent more than 60 man-hours preparing the aircraft for the move. One of the more ‘interesting’ bits was the actual removal from the building with the tail having less than six inches (15 cm) clearance, even when the fuselage was tipped half way out.

This required the very skilful operation by the drivers to lift the nose and get the tail under the doorway.

After an early start for loading, a few hours drive later, XX495, ‘Charlie’, arrived at the Museum. The whole process, except the door bit, now had to be done in reverse to get the wings and fuselage back together to stand on its undercarriage, before the lorries with their lifting gear could leave.

That all went smoothly and ‘Charlie’ now sits next to another former Finningley twin engined trainer, the HS125 Dominie, XS735 ‘Romeo’.

Although both of a similar size, one was for pilot training (Jetstream) and the other for navigation training (Dominie). They also have distinct differences due to the Jetstream having propellers and the Dominie having jet engines.

While there is still a lot of refitting of panels and equipment to do, it is expected that the Museum will be able to open their latest aircraft to the public on the next ‘Open Cockpit’ weekend on April 20, 21 and 22 (Easter), when there will be nearly 30 aircraft open for visitors to get into.

The Museum now houses quite a collection of ex- Finningley types, including the Chipmunk, Bulldog, and Jet Provost pilot trainers, not to forget the restored Vulcan bomber cockpit.

The Vulcan is usually open to visitors most Wednesdays and Saturdays when the volunteers who restored it are in attendance. There are a couple of Jet Provost cockpits among those which are open every day.

Watch us on ‘Facebook’ to see how things are progressing.