NEWS & UPDATES

COTSWOLD AIRPORT WILL OPEN TO THE PUBLIC ON SATURDAY 26th June 2021

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 **IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT REGARDING XM496**

IT IS WITH MUCH REGRET THAT WE HAVE HAD TO MAKE THE DECISION TO REMAIN CLOSED UNTIL SUCH TIME THAT WE HAVE PUT INTO OPERATION A ONE-WAY FLOW SYSTEM ON BOARD THE AIRCRAFT WITH VISITORS ENTERING VIA THE FRONT PASSENGER DOOR AND EXITING VIA THE REAR DOOR. COUPLED WITH THIS WILL BE A MANDATORY REQUIREMENT TO MAINTAIN THE CORRECT DISTANCING PROCEDURE; WEAR FACEMASKS; SANITISE HANDS.  IT IS HOPED TO RE-OPEN IN AUGUST BUT THIS WILL BE SUBJECT TO (I)THE PROVISION OF A FURTHER SET OF SUITABLE STEPS; (II)THE PROVISION OF CONCRETE HARD-STANDING FOR THE STEPS; AND (III)PROVISION OF A PATHWAY TO THE DISUSED TAXIWAY. MEANWHILE, VISITORS ARE MORE THAN WELCOME TO VIEW THE AIRCRAFT EXTERNALLY BUT PLEASE ENSURE YOU REMAIN SAFE AT ALL TIMES, MIND YOUR HEADS IN PARTICULAR, AND EXTRA CAUTION …PLEASE KEEP CHILDREN UNDER CONTROL.

OUR SINCERE APOLOGIES FOR THIS INCONVENIENCE

  • Update 1: NEWSLETTER NL13 PUBLISHED. The latest issue of ‘Friends of the Britannia’ is now available and is being sent out to all members. This issue is also available in .PDF format to any members who would prefer to have their copy in digital format. NL13 publishes for the first time, courtesy of Martin Fenner, a photograph of XM496 taken at RAF Benson on the day she was delivered to RAF Transport Command on 17th September 1960. Articles in this 12 page issue of NL13 include: (i) Part 1 of the experiences of an RAF Britannia pilot who left the Royal Canadian Air Force to join the RAF; (ii) the visit paid by an RAF airman who visited the site of ‘Ground Zero’ where 5 nuclear weapons were detonated at the southern end of Christmas Island (today Kiritimati) in 1957 and 1958; (iii) a non too technical explanation of the Green Satin Doppler Radar carried by the Britannia and the V-Force which was highly secret in the 1960s; (iv) an update on the final phase of the re-furbishment of XM496; (v) an introduction to Lawrence Fish, who was a Bristol Aeroplane Company’s tecnical artist in the 1950s; (vi) …and more. An interesting read is promised for all. New members are very welcome to join the Bristol Britannia XM496 Preservation Society for the modest sum of £10 per annum. In addition to receiving two copies of the Newsletter each year, they will also receive a welcome pack with the unique Members’ DVD, which includes the spectacular arrival of the aeroplane at Cotswold Airport in 1997, a logo pen and most important of all, the personal pleasure of supporting the worthwhile cause of saving a unique part of British history for posterity …and from the ‘breakers torches’! If you would like to join this enthustic band of like minded aviation enthusiasts please refer to the Application Form under the heading MEMBERSHIP OR DONATIONS’.

 

SITE TEXT + PHOTOS BELOW STILL UNDER MODIFICATION 

  • Update 2: WORK IN PROGRESS. Despite the ‘lock-downs’ caused by Covid 19, as a small group we have been able to continue working whilst complying with the regulations. The closure of the airport to visitors and working only in the open air with a minimum of staff, has facilitated this measure. Preparation, painting and repairs have been on-going since April 2020 by our three stalwarts, namely Jim Brown and Maurice Strong and Mick Tilley, assisted by the occasional but essential assistance from the other working members. The only major external component still in need of finishing is the starboard rear stabiliser and Maurice plans to have that completed very soon. Jim and Mick have continued work on the flight deck to replicate the displays to be as close to the original as possible and to bring more lighting on line – see photo. A recent eureka moment occurred when the undercarriage indicator showed 3 greens, probably the first time for many years. We have been promised a P12 compass which will effectively close the chapter on missing instrumentation. This is a very prominent bit of kit that was above the combing at top dead centre of the instrument panel – see the ringed part of the attached photo. Other projects recently finished or approaching completion are as follows:-
  • Major repair work has been done by Mick on the main door with repairs to the runners, locking mechanism and corroded components, which now makes the door a ‘dream’ to open and close. In addition some re-work of the exterior handles by replacing the red hand-holds has negated the necessity to use gloves to open the door. Continuing on the same theme there has been a realignment of the blue cheat line on the door which was not in ‘synchro’ with the rest of the fuselage.
  • Jim has been busy repainting the wheel hubs and the tyres and how splendid they look. It is amazing how a seemingly minor part of the refurbishment has had such a huge effect on the overall look of the aircraft and it was money and time well spent. There have been a few problems with the tyres retaining air which was requiring constant attention with the foot-pump. It was suspected that the two-part hub seal was not doing its job and a solution of tyre seal was injected to try to improve matters. This didn’t cure the problem so attention turned to the valves which are peculiar to the aeroplane and replacements are not available anymore. Mick and Maurice have come up with an idea to modify the valve to create an airtight seal and this mod is in place on one wheel which is being ‘soak-tested’ to assess its suitability. If this doesn’t prove the difinitive answer the next step will be to purchase a suitable truck valve that will have to be both modified thread-wise and probably fitted using a Helicoil. Watch this space!
  • Maurice has become an almost permanent resident on site! His work is extemely professional and he works wonders on seemingly insurmountable problems. Recently, he has been making repairs to the corrosion on the tailplane. It is a huge job and when he gets ‘bored’ he turns his attention to a further project which is making an new set of blanking plates for the engine intakes to keep the pesky birds and bees from ‘squatting’ in a ready made home. One imagines that once he has a set for one engine he can replicate the other three, but as luck would have it, the cowlings are not exactly the same shape …which is a bit of a mystery and a bit of a pain! Maurice has now advised he has finished the engine blanks and has turned his attention to buffing up the cowlings to a nice shiney finish!
  • Plans for the future: will see work being carried out to replace and reposition the rear bulkhead and to possibly re-instate a toilet – not usable! This project will more than likely be put on hold until such time as we have introduced the one-way traffic system for visitors and completed all the additonal work this will entail.
  • News Item 3: FILMING.  TO BE COMPLETED 
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  • Update 4: DONATIONS. In response to a number of requests for the facility to make donations to XM496 from the website, a minor modification to the ‘Form’ has been made under the Title Heading MEMBERSHIP OR DONATIONS. Please follow the instruction to differentiate your requirement and may we thank you most sincerely for your kindness. Any monies donated are used entirely for the upkeep of the aircraft.
  • Update 5: DEHUMIDIFIERS. TO BE COMPLETED
  • News Item 6: ELECTRICS. TO BE COMPLETED