Vulcan To The Sky Trust to bring back to airworthy conditions a Cold War Era English Electric Canberra

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The Canberra should be ready to fly for the Royal Air Force centenary in 2018

Another jet from Britain’s golden age of flight is to be restored by the Vulcan To The Sky Trust (VTST), which already brought back to life the famous Avro Vulcan B.2 XH558.

VTST in fact has acquired the English Electric Canberra WK163 from the Coventry-based Classic Air Force (that received it in March 2000) with the aim to bring back the aircraft to airworthy conditions.

As already done for XH558, VTST has launched a fundraising campaign to support this new project.

The Canberra, that has not flown since suffering an engine failure in 2007, should be ready for the Royal Air Force (RAF) centenary in 2018, as announced by Robert Pleming, VTST chief executive and leader of the restoration project who explained in the August issue of FlyPast magazine: “We are going to return WK163 to the air, with the aim of flying for the centenary of the RAF in 2018. Nothing could surpass the Vulcan, but we’ve chosen to do something unique and relevant to our aviation heritage. It still has a lot of structural life, and will be the only Canberra flying in Europe.”

Currently, there are only five Canberras known to be flying in the world, of which three are the highly modified, US-built Martin WB-57F aircraft that NASA uses for satellite development.

According to Pleming the Canberra restoration should be quicker than that of Avro Vulcan XH558. Furthermore he added that VTST is looking to restore other classic aircraft in the future as well as assisting other classic jet owners with technical services and advice.

Noteworthy, as reported by Vulcantothesky.org, Canberra WK163, that was built by Avro as a B.2 in 1954, made headlines on Aug. 28, 1957 when it obtained the world record for aircraft altitude at 70,310ft (21,375m) while testing the Napier Scorpion Rocket Motor. WK 163 was then converted to B.6 specification in april 1966.

Special thanks to Kev Slade, aviation expert and reader of The Aviation Geek Club, who sent me the pictures of Canberra WK163 wearing the record flight markings he took at Farnborough in Sep. 1998.

Photo credit: Kev Slade