We use cookies to optimize our website and our services. Refer here for privacy statement. Here for Cookie policy.

Here’s why BAe Test Pilot Keith Hartley flew this Tornado with the canopy off

BAe Test Pilot Keith Hartley conducted the ‘cockpit habitability trial’ in his open top Tornado XZ630

Taken in 1988 the unique photos in this post feature British Aerospace (BAe) Test Pilot Keith Hartley conducting the ‘cockpit habitability trial’ in his open top Tornado XZ630.

As BAE Systems explained on Twitter:

“In 1988, our test pilot Keith Hartley flew at 500 knots in a Tornado aircraft with the canopy off, testing the emergency escape procedures of the jet; just one example of the lengths we go to test the safety of the planes we build for the RAF.”

The Panavia Tornado XZ630 was the first British pre-production aircraft which flew on Mar. 14, 1977 and participated in weapons release trials at the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) at Boscombe Down.

Noteworthy Pre-production Tornados incorporated a number of refinements over earlier prototypes that would be incorporated onto production aircraft.

Former Lightning and Tornado F3 pilot Ian Black said that “While the first ten aircraft could be considered true prototypes, the first real Tornado for the RAF flew in March 1977 (XZ630) and it was quickly assigned to the A&AEE at RAF Boscombe Down in Wiltshire.”

After a successful career as a trials aircraft, Panavia Tornado XZ630 was retired to ground duties and has been the Gate Guardian at RAF Halton’s Recruit Training Squadron Parade Square since 2004. It was refurbished to resemble a GR4 from 31 Squadron, currently based at RAF Marham, and known as the ‘Goldstars’. The refurbishment was carried out by Serco contractors.

Photo credit: Kate Yates, BAe Heritage Centre

This model is available in multiple sizes from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.

Related posts

B-1B pilot explains how he and his crew were recently able to fly to Japan for integration training with JASDF despite fuel spray on their Bone’s windshield

Hill AFB F-35A pilots take on ‘impossible to replicate’ scenarios at Red Flag 21-1

BUFF driver explains how it was flying the B-52 on a low level training sortie

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Read More