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Spotlight on the aircraft which made history

An aircraft which played a historic role in what is now Durham Tees Valley Airport will come under the spotlight at an event being held at the airport this weekend.

The Friends of Durham Tees Valley Airport (FoDTVA) has organised the event on Saturday, November 23rd, with the Lightning Preservation Group, which is dedicated to maintaining two of the last few remaining English Electric jet fighters at its base in Bruntingthorpe airfield near Leicester.

Says FoDTVA Chairman Colin Granton “The Lightnings were in the front line of the defence of the United Kingdom for almost 30 years, with the last RAF flight in 1988. Although the aircraft were only based at what was then RAF Middleton St George for a relatively brief period, it was a Lightning which was involved in one of the most remarkable events ever seen at the airfield.

“On August 26th 1963 one of Britain’s most famous women pilots, Diana Barnato Walker MBE, following clearance from the Ministry of Defence, took off from Middleton St George and reached a speed of Mach 1.65 (1,262 mph), making her the first British woman pilot to break the sound barrier. She also established by this flight a world air speed record for women.”

The talk and discussion on the history of the Lightning will take place in the airport main terminal between 1.30 and 4.0pm on Saturday. Tickets for the event can be booked on the FoDTVA website www.fodtva.co.uk.