06:04PM, Thursday 30 December 2021
Passengers will have the opportunity to fly in a Second World War fighter craft in White Waltham Airfield come April.
The BE505 is the world’s only two-seater Hawker Hurricane.
The model was a monoplane derivative of the Hawker Fury, designed by Sir Sydney Camm (born in Windsor). Many Hurricanes were built at the Hawker Langley factory in Slough.
The Hawker Hurricane entered RAF service in December 1937 and went on to operate with distinction in major theatres of the conflict.
It was continuously developed throughout the war and served as a fighter, bomber-interceptor, fighter-bomber, ground support and with the Royal Navy as the Sea Hurricane.
The aircraft claimed more than 60 per cent of all air victories in The Battle of Britain, according to Hurricane Heritage, the restored plane’s operator.
Mike Collett, pilot and instructor, said the aircraft is ‘the underdog of the Battle of Britain.’
“People usually think of the Spitfire, but the Hawker Hurricane did the lion’s share of the work,” he said.
The plane was shot down during the Dieppe Raid on August 19, 1942 – and the pilot, Flight Sergeant Charles Bryce Watson, became a prisoner of war.
It was struck off charge (taken off the RAF’s books) in September 1944. Having escaped being sold for parts, it was acquired by a collector in the 1970s and restoration work began in 2005. The first post-restoration flight was completed in 2009, with two-seat configuration added in 2020.
For 84 years, the experience of flying in this fighter was the sole preserve of qualified pilots. Now there is a passenger seat installed behind the pilot.
“The experience of flying in a Hawker Hurricane – the noise, the feel, the vibration of it – is phenomenal. It has a horsepower of 1,300 to 1,400,” said Mike.
“Flying in it is a unique experience, and a tangible way of preserving the memories of the people who flew them, so they are not forgotten,” he said.
The BE505 is available for flights from April 2022.
White Waltham was one of 22 dispersal units for the Air Transport Auxiliary during the Second World War, delivering thousands of Hurricanes to squadrons around the country.
Book at hurricaneheritage.com/flights