Aircraft makes soft landing at air museum

A HISTORIC aircraft has found a safe haven after leaving her spiritual home for the last time.

Two cars had to be towed out of the way as a mighty Blackburn Buccaneer XV168 was carried on a low-loader from the BAE Systems site in Brough to the Yorkshire Air Museum.

Wings folded, the jet plane cut an unusual sight as onlookers watched it squeeze out of Brough, cross the M62 and go onto the A1 and A64.

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The aircraft, which served with the Royal Navy, and later the RAF, was the company’s most successful plane, clocking up 35 years of service.

The XV168 had stood for around 15 years outside the gates of the site, which was sold earlier this year to a private equity firm.

Chairman of Elloughton cum Brough town council Coun Bryan Davis said the plane’s departure brought mixed emotions: relief that it would be looked after, but sadness as it signified “BAE Systems saying: ‘We are on our way.”

The XV168 has particular significance as it was flown “home” to Brough on October 15 1993 from Lossiemouth, the first and last occasion on which a Buccaneer would land there. It is dedicated to the Blackburn/Hawker Siddley aircrew – John G Joyce; Trevor D Dunn; “Sailor” G.R.I Parker and Gordon R Copeman – who lost their lives during its development.

The museum will be rededicating the plane at a service later this year.

Brough, where hundreds of skilled jobs have been axed, was bought along with five other sites by London-based Bridgehouse Capital in March.

The defence giant has a 10-year deal to lease back manufacturing and office space there.

There are still 1,000 people working for BAE Systems at Brough, down from 6,000 20 years ago, but only around 150 on the shop floor.

Three new businesses have moved onto site, part of the Brough Enterprise Zone, including aerospace components manufacturer Supercraft.

Coun Davis said: “The aircraft has been BAE’s sign on the door. Taking it away indicates they may not carry on for too many more years.”