XX154 arrival at Boscombe Down Aviation Collection
Wednesday 21st August 2019 saw the latest addition to arrive at The Boscombe Down Aviation Collection, located at Old Sarum Airfield, the first Hawker-Siddeley (BAe) Hawk to leave the production line at their Kingston-upon-Thames factory.
Hawker-Siddeley HS.1182 XX154 was the prototype Hawk but was soon classified as a production standard aircraft. Construction number 312001 was built under MOD contract K87A/02 for an advanced weapons/training aircraft.
What’s so special about this day? Its 45 years to the day since XX154’s first flight from Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, in the hands of Hawker-Siddeley Aviation’s Chief Test Pilot, Duncan Simpson. During this fifty three minute test flight, “154” reached twenty thousand feet. After being used by Hawker-Siddeley and then British Aerospace, XX154 continued in the test role. It was stationed at Llanbedr, seeing service with The Royal Aircraft Establishment until 1992, The Defence Research Agency until 1993, then with T&EE until 1995 before being taken on charge by The Defence Test & Evaluation Organisation which eventually became QinetiQ in 2001. At this point XX154 moved to MOD Boscombe Down with the Empire Test Pilots’ School where it saw out its flying career.
Threshold Media were at both Boscombe Down and Old Sarum to capture this historic moment on 21st August.
Normally you would expect an ex military aircraft to arrive at a museum by road courtesy of the Ministry of Defence’s Joint Aircraft Recovery and Transportation Squadron or a private contractor. But not for 154 with some careful planning between QinetiQ, RAF Brize Norton’s Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit, RAF Benson’s Joint Helicopter Support Squadron and RAF Odiham’s 27 Squadron it was underslung underneath Boeing-Vertol Chinook HC.6A ZH890. It is worth noting that this was the first time a Chinook had carried a Hawk. So after the RAF had produced a safety case, risk assessments and also a test lift at Boscombe Down using a crane to enable them to check the weight and balance and slinging arrangements needed.
Shortly after 1330hrs 154 got “airborne” for one last time for the 10-minute transit flight to the world war one airfield of Old Sarum, where quite a crowd had gathered to witness the historic moment. Approaching along runway 24, the Chinook set its load down at just south of the mid point almost directly opposite its future home of BDAC’s number 1 hanger. The aircraft was quickly chocked and unstrapped and that all important go pro camera from Odiham’s photographic section was removed from the pitot probe.
After an hour or so of press engagement it was time for XX154 to be put to bed inside the Boscombe Down Aviation Collections Belfast hangar. Where it will now sit alongside the cockpit section of XX343 which it shared a hangar with during its eighteen years of being based at Boscombe Down.