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De Havilland Aviation

De Havilland Aviation

De Havilland Aviation is a licensed aircraft company based in Bournemouth, United Kingdom. It maintains and operates a number of post-War vintage and modern aircraft, owned by both the company and on behalf of private clients. Its most noteworthy restoration project was restoring the de Havilland DH110 Sea Vixen XP924 back to flightworthy status; at its time, the most complex aircraft restoration project ever undertaken. Its main base is Bournemouth Airport but it also operates a Worldwide spares and parts service from Swansea in Wales, supplying many of the vintage aircraft owners as well as various air forces.

De Havilland Aviation is a corporate partner of the Royal Aeronautical Society and is licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

History

De Havilland Aviation was born out of the former aviation trust, Jet Heritage (founded by Michael Carlton, the renowned display pilot), although the De Havilland name has its roots much further back to the de Havilland Aircraft Company who built many of the aircraft that De Havilland Aviation now maintain. Originally setup by Gwynn Jones, the then owner of the Sea Vixen, it expanded its operation to the restoration and operation of other manufacturers and types of aircraft including Vampires, Meteors and Hunters.

The Sea Vixen project was started in 1997 and took five years to complete during which time the First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy gave his personal support to the project. Following the completion of the project, XP924 was registered on the civilian register as G-CVIX, and became the only flightworthy Sea Vixen in the World. The company was subsequently awarded a sponsorship deal by Red Bull Marketing to display the Sea Vixen in the Red Bull corporate logo. However, in 2007 the aircraft was restored to its former Navy markings, complete with its original registration of XP924. It remains the only privately-owned former military jet in Europe capable of breaking the sound barrier.

Following on from the success of the Sea Vixen project, the company embarked on providing support for many air show events around both the UK and Europe by way of aircraft displays and maintenance support. In August 2006, the company applied to the CAA to hold an airshow operators licence so that the Sea Vixen could be displayed along Bournemouth Seafront prior to the annual display by the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows. As a result of that display and that of the Red Arrows, a charity lunch held at the Bournemouth BIC raised over £25,000 for local charities.

In October 2005, the company was sold to a consortium led by Julian Jones along with the aircraft stock. Paul Kingsbury, the Chief Engineer since the Jet Heritage days, took on the role of Director of Engineering and continues to lead the engineering side of the company. The role of Chief Pilot was continued by Brian Grant, the renowned display pilot, until his retirement in December 2007. During his time as Chief Pilot for the company, Brian won the UK Airshow Review (UKAR) Classic Jet Display award for three years running for his public displays of the Sea Vixen. That award had never before been awarded three years consecutively to any display pilot or team.

Today

De Havilland continues to restore and maintain classic jets, and provides operational support for air shows. DHA is a sponsor of the Bournemouth Air Festival having committed aircraft and logistical support to the four day event.

Its most recent project is the restoration to flight of former Red Arrows Folland Gnat XR537 having completed projects on two Jet Provosts during 2007. XR537 will be officially re-launched during the Bournemouth Air Festival and will be part of a nostalgic flypast with the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, The Red Arrows.

In May 2008, the company was contracted to take on the restoration of the former Source Aviation Flight, which includes de Havilland Vampires and Venoms, and to return as many jets from that historic collection to flight as possible.

Following the expansion plans of Bournemouth Airport, the company will be relocating to a new hangar on the the North-East sector of the airport during the summer of 2008.

The Managing Director of De Havilland Aviation is the Hon. Geoffrey J. Beck KCTJ, a qualified pilot and notable charity supporter in Dorset.

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