The last remaining Blackburn Beverley, has been saved from the scrapheap, thanks to an anonymous benefactor and Condor Aviation.
First built in 1952 by Blackburn in Brough, East Yorkshire, the 49 built Beverley aircraft were some of the largest planes in existence, with a wing span of nearly 50m and capable of carrying more than 90 paratroopers at any given time.
On his decision to save the Blackburn Beverley, Martyn Wiseman, Managing Director of Condor Aviation, said: “The Blackburn has had an esteemed history, and as a fan of radial engine aircraft, I couldn’t bear to see this go the same way as all the others.
“Working with a benefactor who shares my passion, we secured the XB259, along with a large number of artefacts relating to its history, from Fort Paull when the heritage site was auctioned off in late September.”
Plans are afoot to move the plane to Birchwood Lodge, a private airfield in Yorkshire, just a few miles up the road from where the Beverley was built and will remain there until its final days. Members of the public will be invited to visit the plane at its new site, and there are plans to create a library and exhibition of some of the additional artefacts purchased with the plane.
Condor Aviation has until June 2021 to move the huge plane, and that in itself will be a major engineering feat. But, with some of the best aviation engineers on their staff, and a wealth of experience in restoring historical aircraft, Mr. Wiseman doesn’t think it will be a problem, other than the sheer costs involved.
“The first stage in moving the Beverley to its forever home will be to dismantle it and move it in parts. With a wingspan of nearly 50 metres, equivalent to two tennis courts end-to-end, and a fuselage so large you can fit a single decker bus inside, it will be an engineering feat in itself to move it. We anticipate the dismantle, move and reassembly to cost in excess of £100,000.
“We’ll be moving the plan in as few pieces as possible to preserve its structure – ideally each wing individually, and the main fuselage as a single unit. There are a number of moving options we’re exploring at the moment, but no option is cheap.”
To support the move, the team has launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise the funds needed to dismantle, move and rebuild the aircraft. With a range of incentives available, supporters will be able to benefit from their own generosity in a variety of ways.
“Any donation, however large or small, will help us towards our fundraising targets,” said Martyn. “You can donate £1 and become an owner of one of the 440,000 rivets that hold the beast together, or donate £259 for a historical guided tour of Yorkshire by air in our own 1939 radial engine aircraft; we don’t want to let this icon go the same way as the others.
Martyn added: “The long-term plans for this aircraft are incredibly exciting, and whilst it’s too early to say anything in confidence, we hope this to be the first stage in providing a haven for veterans emotionally or physically affected by conflict. That’s why, anything above and beyond our target will be to work with and donate to Help for Heroes.”
To support the project, visit https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-the-blackburn-beverley-aircraft
[David Drury – Drunk Animal]