Planes of Fame Air Museum Receives Rare Gloster Meteor T.7

And she flies! Gloster Meteor WA591 airborne over Hampton Roads, Virginia for the first time on June 18th, 2018. (photo by Dean Heald)

The world famous Planes of Fame Air Museum based in Chino, California has recently received the donation of Gloster Meteor T.7 WA591, one of just a handful of the breed still in airworthy condition. As we reported HERE in 2018, this former RAF jet fighter made the first U.S. Meteor flight in decades when she took of at Hampton Roads Executive Airport soon after her import from the UK. The late Marty Tibbits’ World Heritage Air Museum, based at City Airport in Detroit, Michigan acquired her from the Classic Air Force Trust in Coventry, England. This museum had great plans for the Meteor and their burgeoning fleet of classic military jets, but this all came to an end when Tibbits tragically lost his life in the crash of a deHavilland Venom in July, 2018. With the museum’s driving force and primary benefactor gone, the future looked bleak for the Meteor, which ended up in outdoor storage for a period before Mr. Foster Stanback stepped in to save the aircraft and find her a new home. Stanback is an accomplished pilot in his own right, and proud supporter of the Tom Wathen Center at historic Flabob Airport in Riverside, California, the organization which ultimately donated the airplane to Planes of Fame. The Meteor flew in to Chino from her former base in Pontiac, Michigan during late August.

Gloster Meteor T7 WA591 arriving at Planes of Fame on August 25th. Photo by Brett Dietz.

Meteor T.7 WA591 rolled off Gloster’s production line at Hucclecote in mid-1949. She served with the Royal Air Force at various domestic training establishments including Stradishall, Driffield, Finningley, and the College of Warfare at Manby, before retiring from flight to become a ground instruction airframe with No.5 Maintenance Unit at RAF Kemble in 1965. She closed her RAF service as a gate guard at RAF Woodvale, near Liverpool, but eventually ended up on the gate at the now-closed British Aerospace Factory at the former RAF Woodford airfield by the mid-90s. An enterprising fellow named Collin Christopher Rhodes acquired her in 1993 for restoration to airworthiness with The Meteor Flight. Following sixteen years of hard work in cramped conditions at Yatesbury, and a lot of capital investment, WA591 took to the skies again at Kemble on June 14th, 2011, when she became the oldest active jet aircraft in the world. She subsequently joined the now-moribund Classic Air Force and appeared on the air show circuit a number of times in the following years, until Classic Air Force’s primary owner, Mike Collett, decided to part with the bulk of his fleet of airworthy historic aircraft in 2015. With the Meteor’s future now more assured, she will hopefully become a regular performer with Planes of Fame in the coming years. We look forwards to seeing her in the air during the 2021 Planes of Fame Air Show next May!

To support Planes of Fame Air Museum with a donation, please click HERE.

 

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