RAF Hawk: Plane usually used by Red Arrows lands in Yorkshire to complete museum's collection
Dame Rosie was at the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum which unveiled its latest exhibition piece.
The aviation museum, which used to be known as AeroVenture, formally unveiled its latest acquisition in a ceremony. The RAF Hawk is used by the Royal Air Force as a training jet but is more famously known in its bright red livery as the aircraft flown by the Red Arrows display team.
This two-seater plane that’s found a new home in South Yorkshire was donated to the museum by the Ministry of Defence through the RAF Heritage programme. Originally built in 1981, XX238 was taken on by the Royal Navy in 2002 where it was given its current black colour scheme, before being taken out of service and put into storage six years later.
Donning a 1950s cloth pilot’s helmet, Dame Rosie laughed as she compared herself to Amy Johnson, the pilot from Hull who became the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia in 1930.
The Labour MP told The Yorkshire Post she was “delighted to assist the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum with bringing the Hawk 47 aircraft to Doncaster and having the honour of unveiling it.
“I am sure seeing the Hawk will give a lot of pleasure to visitors and provide an incentive to those who haven’t yet been to the museum to come along. A special thank you to Alan Beattie and all the volunteers who make this such a special museum. Well worth a visit!”
The man-made lakeside area of Doncaster might seem an odd setting for an aviation museum, but those with long memories will know the location as the former site of RAF Doncaster, originally built as an airport for civilian flights after the fledgling air force – a branch of the army known back then as the Royal Flying Corps – commandeered the nearby racecourse to create a temporary airstrip during the First World War.
The museum is run entirely by around 40 volunteers. Chairman Alan Beattie, who has given his time to the museum for 21 years, explains the significance of aviation to South Yorkshire.
“In the 1930s when aviation started to take off, excuse the pun, Doncaster was ideally situated for an airport as it’s close to the geographical centre of the UK. I keep losing count, but we have around 100 aircraft here, half of which are complete, and many exhibits will have links with either Doncaster or South Yorkshire,” he says.
Knowing production of the Hawk was going to come to an end after nearly 50 years, Mr Beattie sensed an opportunity. “We heard on the grapevine that the Hawk was coming out of service so we started to reach out to people to try and get one to help complete our collection of training aircraft. That’s when Dame Rosie got involved and she raced ahead of me to help secure the Hawk for the museum.”