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13 November 2014

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You are in: Dorset > Places > Places features > Gnaty flies again

Red Arrows Gnat

Red Arrows Gnat

Gnaty flies again

A restored Red Arrow 1963 Folland Gnat took to the skies with the world famous aerobatic display team during the Bournemouth Air Festival.

The Folland Gnat was the Red Arrows team leader's jet until 1979, when the Royal Air Force replaced the Gnat with Hawks.

But following a remarkable restoration job the Gnat has once again joined the world famous aerobatic display team during the festival.

Work on the famous jet has taken three years to complete and was undertaken at De Havilland Aviation in Bournemouth.

Geoff Beck, MD De Havilland Aviation.

Geoff Beck, MD De Havilland Aviation.

Managing Director of De Havilland, Geoff Beck said: "It has been a project very close to my heart as I saw the jet fly with the Red Arrows many years ago.

"I still have a black and white photograph I took of her all those years ago when I was a youngster so watching her take to the skies once again all these years later will be very emotional."   

Long road to refurbishment

'Gnaty' (as the aircraft became affectionately known) was sold in 1990 after 10 years of ground-based use as a training facility.

The jet was bought by a businessman who moved it to the Bournemouth Aviation Museum. However, after months of refurbishment work, the original restoration company closed down and a few months later the owner died.

Photo by Richard Paver/DHA

Photo by Richard Paver/DHA

Gnaty was put back in the Museum as a static display and its future looked bleak with the possibility of it being sold for parts or scrap.

But in 2005 a new consortium bought the aircraft and set about restoring Gnaty to her former glory.

In the three years that followed De Havilland undertook one of their most comprehensive engineering restoration projects.

XR537

The company was given permission to paint the aircraft in her 1970’s livery and to retain her original military registration mark, XR537.

John Weaver, Events Manager, Bournemouth Tourism

John Weaver, Events Manager.

On August 9 2007 Gnaty took to the skies for the first time in over 28 years and was granted a full permit to fly in February 2008.

The nostalgic flypast at the Bournemouth Air Festival in August saw ten Red Arrows both old and new in formation and was Gnaty's official re-launch to the aviation world.  

Ahead of the event, air festival director Jon Weaver said: "It is terrific that we will have this vintage Gnat flying with the Red Arrows and to have old and new in a flypast is something very special that has never been seen before. 

The Bournemouth Air Festival featured a special nostalgic flypast of the Red Arrows to help celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Royal Air Force, and to support the John Thornton Young Achievers Foundation which was set up in memory of the Royal Marine from Ferndown who was killed in Afghanistan in March 2008.  

last updated: 01/09/2008 at 11:29
created: 04/06/2008

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