Registered Charity Number 1075858

Newsletter No. 18
Most of 2011


On the 16th of February the museum formally applied for planning permission to redevelop the whole site. It has taken over 9 months of the most detailed preparation work to get to this stage. A large quantity of supporting documents formed a major part of the application. There were many environmental and local surveys carried out to ensure that all aspects of the planning requirements were met. The Statutory Consultation Period has now ended. The application and its associated documents may be found on the Mole Valley web site using the link. Many letters, emails and expressions of support have been received locally and from all over the world. See the web site for the latest information.

1st June 2011.

The planning officer recommended refusal, at the planning meeting a deferral was agreed pending the result of a site visit.

Most of the planning committee attended the site; those that didn't were the usual, expected suspects!

7th July

At the development control meeting in Dorking the planning officer's recommendation was approved and the permission was refused, the council voted 12-7 in favour of the refusal.

In the light of the above decision a review of the possible courses of action is being undertaken. See the update for more information.

Statement from Gatwick Aviation Museum

We are extremely disappointed by the MVDC's decision to refuse our planning application. This application presents a unique opportunity to deliver a heritage-focused leisure destination that would create jobs and protect a key part of Britain's aviation history. We really do believe we have designed a contemporary facility that delivers across a wide range of parameters including utilization of existing allotted building space, low environmental impact along with the inclusion of a much needed education facility and the creation of jobs. We will go back to the drawing board and see what we might be able to do a little differently to meet some councillor concerns about the development but we also believe that this is the right project for the right location.


Gatwick Aviation Museum (GAM) is to appeal against Mole Valley District Council's (MVDC) rejection of their plan for redevelopment of the Museum site. The appeal has to be presented by the 10th of January 2012. Mole Valley DC appeared to make an attempt to forestall any appeal by threatening that just by making the appeal it would prompt them to enact the enforcement notice. Interestingly, it seems that despite using the 1992 Inspectors report as a constant reference to support their position, they do NOT accept the inspectors finding or recommendations!

If you feel that the Councils rejection should be overturned and the museum be allowed to redevelop this old, dilapidated chicken farm and provide an enduring home and resource for this collection, please write a letter expressing your support and address it to:

  • Gatwick Aviation Museum
  • Vallance By Ways
  • Lowfield Heath Road
  • Surrey>
  • RH6 0BT

or email to

Central Sussex College in Crawley is now well established in one of the units on the site. This arrangement will quite clearly be beneficial to both the museum and the college. We look forward to working with all of the students and lecturers.

The museum hosted the 175th meeting of the BAPC on the 12th of February 2011. This meeting was very well attended and we contributed in two other ways to the meeting agenda.


Firstly we were able to run the starboard engine on XN923 the S.1. Buccaneer, this proved to be popular and for most of the attendees it was the first time that they'd heard a Gyron Junior running. We actually ran it twice, the second time to re-acquaint Andy Scrase with running it, it had been some time and he wanted to refresh his knowledge.

Secondly, after lunch, Mike Rankin gave a very entertaining and well received talk about his time flying Shackletons. For those visitors who have attended the museum previously and those who haven't, Mike now has very successfully taken on the role of Shackleton guide. He can be found inside the airframe on most Sunday open days.

A local professional photographer, Gavin Hoey, has started a trend! Gavin features 15 minute photo shoots on his web site. On a bitterly cold January day in early 2011, he shot one of his videos at the museum. This video along with many others can be found on utube or via Gavin's web site.

Since then we have had several requests from a variety of photographic interests to use the museum as a photo shoot location. However, one or two requests may not have been the type of production videos that feature aviation!

See gavtrain

Here is a reminder of the dates for open days this year the table below details which days throughout the year the museum is open to visitors without needing to arrange an appointment.

Opening dates for 2011
    March 11th, 25th
    April 6th(Fri), 8th, 22nd
    May 13th, 27th
    June 10th, 24th
    July 8th, 22nd
    August 12th, 26th, 27th(Mon)
    September 9th, 23rd
    October 7th


Starting on Saturday the 10th of March 2012 the museum will be open EVERY Saturday throughout the year. The opening times have been slightly modified to 10:30 hrs to 16:00 hrs.

We have added a new item to the web site; this is a "for sale" page. The museum has many items in the various units on the site and there are a great number of items that are duplicated or not really relevant to our airframes. In an attempt to convert some of this stock into cash the web site will be updated with items that have been identified as saleable. The web site has also been migrated from its old frames based code to a more modern CSS based layout. This is an interim stage in the ongoing process of redesigning the web site. With a bit of luck no-one will notice any real difference with this change; the next one will be little more dramatic!

The local MP for Crawley, Henry Smith visited the museum with his children on the 7th of September and was present when the Alvis Leonides engines on Sea Prince WP308 were run.

A light rain tried to spoil the party but this was ignored as both radials started with their usual cloud of oily smoke.

Gatwick Flight Sim Group

We welcome this new group who started regular meetings at the museum late in 2011. If you live near Gatwick Airport and would like to meet fellow flight simmers to find out more about flight simming, share your knowledge (of any flight simulation software), see other peoples' set ups, then please come to the next meeting of the Gatwick Flight Sim Group.

Engineering Work

It's probably worth listing each airframe and detailing the work that has been done or is planned for most of them. Any not specifically mentioned implies no planned work.

XN923 Buccaneer S.1.

Over winter 2010/2011 the necessary work was carried out to get her ready for the run in February 2011. One of the faults we found was that the JPT gauge for the starboard engine wasn't showing any temperature.

This was eventually traced to an obscure 7 ohm resistor deep inside one of the equipment bays. It had basically fallen apart with corrosion and age. It was of a special "adjustable" construction; no similar device could be found anywhere. The only recourse was to use the original frame and to reconstruct it using resistance wire and special insulating varnish. The gauge now works but the system needs a little adjustment to make it accurate. Some skin panel replacement work is underway.

In October work had begun on preparing the port engine to be replaced.


(Nov 2011)The major work that is nearing completion is the replacement of the port Gyron Junior engine. This was started in late August with the old engine being removed on the 17th of September.

With the engine out it provided an excellent opportunity to carry out remedial work on the airframe in and around the engine bay.

A couple of weeks later the "new" engine was refitted and the task of reconnecting everything began. It's hoped to be in a position to test run the engine early in 2012.

Lightning F53 ZF579

ZF579 Progress 2011

A steady final push on the Lightning has enabled us to reach our end objective, which was to finish the re wire and have the airframe ready for engine install. ZF579 is now at this point. The engines have recently been re-inspected and cleaned, with no problems found. We will be working on flushing out all the storage inhibiting fluid in the next few months, to replace with new engine oil. This will also involve flushing the fuel system out.

We did unfortunately run into a snag in 2011 with the overhauled Air turbine Gearbox. It developed a slight vibration which we were not entirely happy with. As such we decided to install a spare overhauled unit and new impeller. This replacement unit will be installed in the first week of February, when the team will be spending a 100 hours clearing the final minor snag list in preparation for engines.

Air Turbine Gearbox ready to fit

Clearing this final snag list from the records will see a big pile of RAF form700's finally signed off, with the end of a 15,000 man-hour restoration now in sight. Then all we have to do is maintain the aircraft, which will require weekly maintenance, like any other machine.

Both engine bays are currently mothballed and waiting, so it really now depends on general museum workload. As to exactly when we install the engines on 579? Well either spring or summer will be a good choice. The summer will also see us finally look at re-painting various areas on the airframe and finishing the aesthetics.

Overall, we are very happy with the state of the airframe now, it is of a very high standard indeed, all of the relevant systems have been overhauled to original specification and tested AOK.

Our last goal of course will be to get 579 under cover as soon as possible.

Watch this space.....................

Avro Shackleton WR982(J)

Still little or no work carried to date. The only obvious change has been the refitting of the "Spark plug" (Orange Harvest aerial). Initial work on the cosmetic appearance has taken place, a general clean up of the external surfacing was completed during the early months of 2011. Also now that we have two GPU's one has been moved to the Shack and power will be applied regularly, this will allow work on both the internal DC and AC power systems to progress. This in turn will enable some of the internal systems to be brought back to life. A long term plan to bring the ASV21 radar back into a runnable state has been on hold due to a number of factors, mostly down to the state of the electrics. This can now be progressed.

A program of work to stop water getting into the airframe has begun, it started with the windscreen area and will we work our way rearwards hoping to have it completed before the weather turns against us.

Some work will be carried out on the top of the fuselage removing the old white paint. This will be the first stage of a long process of repainting the complete airframe.

Canberra PR7 WH773

Small amounts of work on this airframe are planned. We have sourced a number of missing instruments and these will be fitted once they have been received. The search for more of the remaining missing instruments will continue. A likely source has been identified and we will follow up this potential source of cockpit items. A new canopy is a part of the spares that we hold for the Canberra, but sadly putting this on whilst its outside will simply reduce the new one to the same condition as the current "cloudy" state. This also applies to the Meteor T.7, we have a new canopy for this also, but for the same reasons will not fit it whilst the airframe is outside.

Jet Provost XN494

Most of the remaining parts that were off of this airframe have now been fitted. This has given us a clear idea of exactly what is missing. We will try to find the parts; a couple of likely sources are being pursued. We really need to take the engine out to fit the oil pump and to give it a detailed inspection. A couple of new volunteers surveyed this airframe and didn't return. It looks as if they were not prepared to spend their time on this fine little aircraft. A great shame as this airframe has a vast amount to offer anyone prepared to spend some time on her.

JP wrapped for winter between two Shacks

An electronic copy of the Jet Provost manuals has been found. These were kindly given to us by Ritch and Max Blood from Bruntingthorpe, we are grateful for their kind generosity. This will be kept as the most likely airframe for new members to work on. Any one who has a particular interest in this airframe will be very welcome!


Sea Vixen XS597

A number of faults need correcting on this airframe; unfortunately the jobs have been assessed as being big and require a serious amount of resources. As a consequence we are putting this on hold until we have the time and people to resolve the issues with this aircraft. Some minor cosmetic jobs will be completed, work has been carried out to treat corrosion and to repaint treated panels.

Sea Hawk

Nothing planned, apart from keeping it cleaned and polished.

Harrier GR3 XV751

A survey was carried out into the state of the cockpit. The conclusion was that we could improve it and try to refit it as much as possible. As a consequence it was decided to start looking for suitable items to attempt to refit the instruments and equipment into the aircraft. Some have been found and will be fitted, more are needed. This will continue and we will fit items as we get them. Hopefully in 2012 it will be good enough to allow visitors to sit in. That's always assuming we get a seat!

Sea Prince WF118 (G-DACA)

The conditions outside have taken their toll on the nose of this Prince. To remedy this it has been paint stripped to bare metal and will receive a full repaint when the weather allows. The colour used will be a suitable red and not the DayGlo finish that wears very badly in outdoor conditions.

Sea Prince WP308 (G-GACA)

On the 7th of September a full engine run was carried out, this was the first time WP308 had been run for some time.

Both Leonides spinning!

Preparation work had been carried out during the weeks prior to the run date and this proved to very valuable as both engines started without any problem. The usual clouds of smoke after the initial start soon dissipated.

When fuel was poured into the tanks, leakage was noted from the seals on both the port and starboard booster pumps. This reduced considerably after a while but continued to leak after the run had been completed. As a consequence both pumps have been removed from the aircraft and material to make new seals is being procured. Since we are not intending to run again in the near future this will be a job for the winter months.

Consideration is also being given to modifying the oil system. This modification will introduce an oil shutoff valve to be used whenever the aircraft is not running. This will have two major benefits, it will save the oil tanks from slowly draining when the aircraft is idle and prevent the build up of oil in the lower cylinders'. This oil build up is a major cause of much of the "hydraulic lock" problems associated with this (and other) radial engines. Clearly a safety interlock system will have to be incorporated to ensure that the engine cannot be started and run with the shutoff valve closed.

We will also be taking a close look at the pneumatic system and in particular the brakes. We have one compressor working and with the pneumatics and brakes functioning she will be capable of being taxied.

Fairy Gannet XL472

No work scheduled on this airframe.

de Havilland Venom FB51

No work scheduled on this airframe.

Hawker Hunter F.51

No work scheduled on this airframe.

Gloster Meteor T7 VZ638

No work scheduled on this airframe, although part of the rear of the starboard engine nacelle has been borrowed by another organization to allow them to make a new item for their Meteor.

Avro Shackleton WR974(K)

No work planned for this airframe in the near future. Although some remedial work is planned and there is a long term aim of steadily refitting the interior and improving the inside generally.

Its eventual primary role will be to take over from 982 in showing visitors the inside of the Shackleton. Once that has happened then WR982 will be reserved for live running of both the engines and the on-board systems.

Hawker Hunter T.7 XL591

The good weather early in the year (2011) was taken advantage of to progress the repaint of this aircraft. A number of the engineering team had purchased the recently released Corgi model of this aircraft in its 4 F.T.S colour scheme.

This was quite useful as an additional reference tool. By the end of the summer we had painted all of the topside of the fuselage, the tail planes and the wings. The final paint was applied in September when a large proportion of the red on underside of the fuselage was painted.

Work has started on preparing the underside of the wings. Corrosion treatment was applied to the inborad area and the missimg small panels identified. We are not sure whether we have these if not then they will be made.

Further work on the cockpit was carried out with almost of the removed items refitted and around the instrument panels and starter panel being refitted. This was after repairing the connectors and wiring in the starter panel. The inverters are being removed for refurb.

In anticipation of the engine being prepared the starter motor is being refurbished and will be installed once the Avon 122 comes out of its box. This starter motor is also being used as a pattern for the possible conversion of the Avon 302s for the Lightning to electric start.

If the weather allows we hope to complete the repaint of this airframe in 2012 and put back all of the markings.

© Gatwick Aviation Museum 2012