For the past couple of years we've been busy with returning the prototype Spitfire Trainer T.8 MT818 / G-AIDN to airworthy condition here at Booker.
Over the summer of 2013 she started to look like an aeroplane again for the first time in a few years.
Successful retraction tests were carried out in June, a video of which can be viewed below:
Avro 504 replica LV-X430 'Olivia'
In the summer of 2013 PPS were tasked with the transport and re-assembly of a full-sized Avro 504 replica at Goodwood Revival with a view to getting the aircraft certified on the British Register. This aircraft is now for sale please enquire if you are interested.
First flight of Yak C.11 G-BTZE
On the 30th of November, Yak C.11 G-BTZE made her first post-rebuild flight, piloted by Jonathon Whaley. Originally produced by LET at Kunovice in the former Czechoslovakia as constructor number: 171312.
The team who restored her to flight were: Tony Bird, John James, Stan Carleton-Smith, Steve Gilbert, Andy Stevens and Tom Woodhouse.
She has been restored as originally as possible and retains the original pneumatic, instrument and radio systems, though the innards of the radios have been removed to save weight. There was hope to fit a de-activated UBS machine-gun to go with the rest of the armament system which has been retained but as yet has proved elusive.
The scheme depicts that worn by a Russian-built Yak-11 painted in a pseudo WWII VVS Scheme by aviation students in the late 1940's for a Parade Day flight over Red Square and was researched by Erik Piilawski who gave lots of technical help with the scheme, colours and markings along with his Warbird Colour Services cohort Steve Atkin.
Previously the aircraft was registered as OK-JIK as the lead-ship of the Skoda Aerobatics team in the former Czechoslovakia and was one of two aircraft, OK-JIY being the other, brought over to 'The West' by Hannes Dittes who sold both aircraft on to Tony Bianchi, 'JIY going to Vern Schuppan of Le Mans fame.
After the test-flying was completed Mark linked up with Richard Paver for some air-to-air photos and James, Richard's son took this superb video of the sortie: G-BTZE Air-to-air
'First Light' for Lion TV and The BBC
Personal Plane Services and resident Spitfire XVI TE184 recently took a starring role in the Lion TV and BBC production of Geoffrey 'Boy' Wellum's Autobiography 'First Light'. Also starring was Yak-52 G-YKYK for a number of in-flight shots of Sam Heughan who played 'Boy'.
After use in ground, taxiing and airborne shots TE184 was also used for the famous scene where 'Boy' is scrambled in poor weather to intercept an intruder. The aircraft was lifted into the flying position and rigged with water spraying equipment with 'Boy' in the cockpit.
The programme airs for the first time tonight (14 September 2010) on BBC2 at 9pm.
The Yak wing repair is now completed and has been fitted to the fuselage, with system checks ongoing preparing for the first engine runs. Undercarriage retraction checks have been performed, flap rigging is underway and the electrical system is nearing completion.
Yak C-11 G-BTZE
This aircraft started life at the LET Aircraft Factory at Kunovice, near Brno in what was Czechoslovakia in 1955 as serial number: 171312 as part of a batch of 707 C-11’s, the ‘C’ denoting the aircraft as being a Czech-built aircraft.
After over a decade in Czech Air Force service many of this batch were sold on to a number of foreign Air Forces, notably Egypt, where 41 aircraft were recovered from in the 1980’s and these have formed the basis for the majority of the currently airworthy Yak-11s around the world today.
This aircraft on the other hand was retained in Czechoslovakia, along with four others, being used by the Skoda Aerobatic Team throughout the late-1960s and ‘70s when they were retired.
Purchased by Tony Bianchi in the early 1980s the aircraft was transported by road to the PPS hangar at Booker where the aircraft was registered as G-BTZE and worked on when time permitted. Acquired by Mark Rijkse in 2007 the aircraft is now being returned to airworthiness by PPS, retaining all of the original factory-fitted equipment this will be one of the most original airworthy C-11s in the World.
The starboard wing requires a modification to be carried out on the rear wing spar due to a repair that was performed on the aircraft in Czechoslovakia, possibly during her time with the Skoda Team. The affected section of spar has been removed and work is ongoing to fabricate the new parts required to rectify this problem.
The chosen paint scheme for the aircraft is to be that of a VVS Yak-11 which was prepared for a postwar Communist Parade in Russia in the late-‘40s by students at a technical school. This represents White ‘52’, the scheme of a WWII VVS Yak fighter.
Two in a row for Personal Plane Services...The Goodwood Revival is now firmly established as a "must attend" event on the calendar for Auto Racing and Aviation Enthusiasts alike.
This year was no exception and along with fabulous autumn sun, fantastic cars and close racing the Aviation side was well supported and enjoyed by all. The "Freddie March Spirit of Aviation" Concours d'elegance brought together around thirty pre-1966 aircraft, all hoping to be selected as winner and take home the coveted trophy from a distinguished panel of judges including NASA Astronaut "Buzz" Aldrin, Designer Terence Conran, Top Gear Presenter James May and Red Bull pilot and post-Champion Paul Bonhomme.
Bücker Bü 133C Jungmeister 'U-95' owned by Mark Rijkse was crowned winner, the second year in a row that an aircraft restored by Personal Plane Services has won the award. Last year they scooped the Trophy with their stunning restoration of the Sheringham Aviation owned Spitfire AR213 - the only airworthy MKIa still flying. Testament and recognition to the exacting standards and originality of the restorations carried out by Tony Bianchi and the dedicated, knowledgeable and hugely skilled team of engineers working at Booker.
Proud owner Mark Rijkse with his prize-winning aircraft
PPS's successful weekend was not reserved just for the aircraft - those multi-talented chaps of PPS also double as race car restorers and engineers! Under the banner "Racing Repertoire", PPS Engineer John James has, for the last 3 years provided the engineering expertise and trackside support for the beautiful Ferrari 246 Dino driven by Richard Attwood. This is the second time that the car, managed by Adrian Hamilton of Duncan Hamilton & Co Ltd, has won at Goodwood having won previously in 2007.
Bücker Jungmann A-12 takes Flight
Bücker Jungmann G-CCHY took to the skies over Booker again, completing her post-restoration test flights in June/July 2009 and flew "hands-off" with no trim adjustments required. The restoration included fabric stitching in the correct style used by the Bücker factory and returning the aircraft to her WWII period Swiss A/F paint scheme, complete with correct stencils.
TE184 takes flight...
The G2 Trust's MKXVI Spitfire TE184 took to the skies again after overhaul by PPS in the hands of test-pilot Jonathon Whaley on the 20th of February 2009. All went well and further test-flights will be made during the following weeks.