English Electric Lightning
Photo featuring an F1A aircraft in '63
Photograph 56 Squadron at Wattisham
Edwin kindly sent over this photo taken in '63 of him sat in a Lightning, seen here on the 'reheat pan' at RAF Wattisham undergoing reheat test runs following a servicing.
Back then Edwin was a member of RAF 56 Squadron, when this and other English Electric Lightnings formed the then-RAF display team 'The Firebirds'. Note the cover over the engine air intake, probably to prevent errant pigeons being ingested in to the works.
Edwin goes on to say:
"I joined 56 Sqdn in October 1960 after completing the first part of the Lightning Engine Course en route to becoming a "PL" (Propulsion Lightning) so that when the course finished in January 1961 the Squadron had several new shiny aircraft. 1961 is not a year some of us wish to remember for the "learning curve" was quite steep, however we went on to become quite adept with such a demanding aircraft to service.
By 1963 we had become much more experienced and were able to keep around 10/11 aircraft "flyable" for both practice and displays, noisy days with reheat takeoffs, no wonder so many of us have hearing problems.
56 were also the first Lightning Squadron to Flight refuel to Cyprus in July 1962 with 2 aircraft and repeated the exercise with 4 aircraft and different pilots later that year.
I left 56 in December 1965 to join 92 Squadron with the Mk2, but that is another story with the "Cold war" at its height. "
Thanks again for sending that over - there are similar Lightning photos taken more recently elsewhere on this site, also showing a Lightning (this time an F6) undergoing reheat tests before demonstration ground runs - for example this Lightning pic! the others can be found on the modern photos gallery.
Return to the vintage aircraft photos main page, for more original pictures taken of aircraft years ago. For more recent pics featuring older aeroplanes that are now in preservation, have a look at this aircraft image gallery.