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Sea Fury flies again after three years restoring vintage FAA fighter

5 September 2017
Three years after he brought her down safely to earth after a catastrophic engine failure, Lt Cdr Chris Götke returned the Navy's last piston-engined fighter to the skies.

Sea Fury T20 performed a short test flight over North Weald, marking the end of a major fundraising and restoration project.

The aircraft had been in the middle of a display at Culdrose Air Day back in 2014 when its engine failed.

The aircraft skidded to a halt on the grass after the undercarriage collapsed as Lt Cdr Götke made an emergency landing.

He clambered out of the two-seat trainer unscathed, but the landing gear, airframe and especially the Bristol Centaurus engine needed fixing.

More than 2,500 of the powerplants were built in the 1940s and '50s for civilian and military aircraft including the enormous Bristol Brabazon airliner and the late WW2 fighter, the Hawker Tempest.

Tracking one down seven decades later, however, proved a challenge. Expert restorers Weald Aviation traced one to the USA - but the cost of replacing the engine alone rose to £200,000.

That demanded a major fund-raising effort - and the campaign for cash continues to maintain it and other vintage naval aircraft in the RN Historic Flight in working order.

Navy Wings - the charity which leads the cash-raising drive to support these classic aircraft - is holding a 'celebrate the Sea Fury'  day on September 22 to mark the 65th anniversary of the fighter downing a MiG jet over Korea.

The pilot who achieved that kill - Peter 'Hoagy' Carmichael - sadly passed away 20 years ago.

But his No.4 in the formation which took part in that legendary aerial encounter, Sub Lt Brian 'Smoo' Ellis of 802 Naval Air Squadron, is still with us and will be talking about the dogfight, the Sea Fury alongside veterans of other vintage FAA aircraft and their machines.

See for further details.

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