The Jet Age Museum at Staverton will be receiving a very special delivery next week, courtesy of the Royal Air Force.
At 14:30 on Monday 22nd April, the museum’s latest acquisition, a Gloster Meteor T.7 jet trainer, will be making the short journey from Imjin Barracks to Gloucestershire Airport. Don’t expect to see any wide loads, road closures or Police escorts though; the aircraft will be arriving underneath a Chinook helicopter!
Built in 1949 the aircraft had something of a chequered operational history and was involved in a number of minor flying accidents, some of which required return to the manufacturers for repair. It served primarily with No. 604 Squadron at North Weald and was once flown by former Conservative MP, now Lord Norman Tebbit when he joined the squadron in January 1952. The Tory politician has been in touch with the museum and will be taking part in a BBC Inside Out documentary about the Meteor and the airlift to be screened later in the year.
It was officially ‘struck of’ in 1977, and became the RAF Innsworth ‘gate guardian’ in 1994.
With the RAF having left the site in 2008 the aircraft was relocated to a remote part of the camp and faced something of an uncertain future. Enquiries to the base of behalf of the museum eventually led to the aircraft being purchased by two of the Jet Age Museum’s trustees.
After the 'deal' was done, Museum representatives met with key personnel at HQ ARRC to discuss the logistics of moving the aircraft to its final resting place at Gloucestershire Airport, whereupon the idea of an airlift was mooted by Station Staff Officer Bernard Barton-Ancliffe. Joint Helicopter Command were contacted and confirmed that the move would be a valuable training exercise for their teams.
Museum chairman, John Lewer said: - We're extremely grateful to the two trustees who have purchased this aircraft on our behalf. It's in remarkably good condition and, with a little restoration, will join our other airframes at the Jet Age Museum. Our building at Staverton is nearly complete and our target date to open to the public is 1st August."
Gloucestershire Airport operations director, Darren Lewington, who is also a trustee of the museum added: - "We're very much looking forward to this somewhat unusual arrival. Chinooks are regular visitors to the Airport but we've never seen an aircraft delivered this way before! “
For more information, you can visit the museum’s web page at www.jetagemuseum.org or follow on Facebook and Twitter @JetAgeMuseum