The Navy Wings Collection is a civilian-run naval aviation heritage organization based at the Royal Navy aerodrome, RNAS Yeovilton, in Somerset, England. They inherited the mantle of the famed Royal Navy Historic Flight (RNHF) at its disbandment in 2019, and continue to maintain and operate the surviving RNHF fleet from the same hangars that organization once did, but funded by a charitable entity, the Fly Navy Heritage Trust. Navy Wings also involves other privately-owned aircraft with a British naval pedigree under the same umbrella. The past couple of years have been challenging for this important outfit though, not least because of the difficulties which the global pandemic has presented, but also because of a recent accident involving their Hawker Sea Fury T.20 VX281. Thankfully, neither of the aircrew were seriously injured during VX281’s forced landing, but the historic fighter incurred significant structural damage and will need a major rebuild – and major financing – before it can return to the skies. Even so, Navy Wings remains positive and has continued to work hard at their core mission, to keep the beating heart of Fleet Air Arm heritage in the skies on active public display as a testament to the sacrifices of so many in the past and to help inspire a new generation of naval aviation-minded members of the public. Their current newsletter gives a detailed overview of their most recent activities, which we have reproduced (with permission) for all to read below…
The Navy Wings Heritage hangar has been a hive of activity. The Chipmunk flew last week for the first time in eighteen months. A new engine was fitted which requires careful running in ahead of its Light Aircraft Association check test flight.
Pilots continue to gain more experience in the Harvard and the Wasp will shortly be returning to North Weald for its annual maintenance check. The organization’s engineers are busy checking the aircraft before and after each flight, performing line operations in support of flying and progressing the various work packages on the Swordfish left to complete. We are currently awaiting the Permit to Test from the Civil Aviation Authority for the Swordfish and the Stinson Reliant has taken part in ground runs (which you can watch here).
Another important program returning online is the ‘Navy Wings At Work.’At the start of 2020, Navy Wings Heritage held their first Navy Wings At Work morning in the heritage hangar. They certainly didn’t think it would be nearly a year and a half before they hosted the next one! Following a difficult period for us all, Navy Wings Heritage’s officials are delighted to be getting ready to welcome their supporters back to the heritage hangar starting in July this year. For more information about this program click HERE.
Sea Fury T.20 VX281 Update
The Sea Fury has been recovered to the heritage hangar by the Joint Aircraft Recovery and Transportation Squadron (JARTS) working closely with the Navy Wings team. JARTS were working in the area on a training exercise and provided their expertise and experience to help us recover the aircraft. The aircraft is now secured and we await the next stage of the investigation process to start. Images of the recovery process can be seen below.
We are very pleased to report that the Sea Fury pilot was discharged from hospital without any injury.
By bringing together flying historic naval aircraft, people and the stories associated with flying from warships at sea, Navy Wings aims to inspire future generations and to create a focus for remembrance.
The Navy Wings Collection unites a range of owners and operators of historic Naval aircraft. This outstanding array of aircraft, when considered together, provides a unique insight into the full suite of Naval aviation achievements, from the very earliest days of flying aircraft from the water to the breathtaking technological advances that enable high-speed jets and heavy helicopters to land on the moving decks of ships at sea.
The core of the collection comprises the aircraft of the Fly Navy Heritage Trust (FNHT). Through the generous contribution of other heritage naval aircraft owners who, under the Navy Wings umbrella, join the FNHT at air displays and air shows, an impressive story of the very best of naval aircraft development can be told. For more information about the Navy Wings Collection visit www.navywings.org.uk