A fibre-glass full-scale replica of the aircraft which served in the frontline for the Royal Air Force’s has been erected at the gate of our Military Air and Information (MAI) facility at Samlesbury, Lancashire.
It was November 3, 1959 that the first production Lightning took to the skies over the aerodrome, which today houses advanced manufacturing facilities making parts for some of the world’s leading aircraft programmes.
This flight marked a turning point in aviation history as the first completely British designed and built fighter aircraft able to fly at twice the speed of sound.
The replica takes the place of the previous Lightning aircraft which was removed in 2013 having stood at the side of the A59 for nearly two decades.
Samlesbury Site Director Ian Wood said: “It is fantastic to see the Lightning back in its rightful place at the entrance to our Samlesbury site where it was manufactured for so many years.
“The full-scale replica is far better designed to handle the Lancashire weather than the fuselage it replaces, which had seen better days having faced the elements for so long.
“It is an aircraft which is a proud part of our heritage and one which has helped to lay the foundations of aircraft such as Typhoon, which are crucial to the success of our business both today and in the future.”
There are further proposals for a second full-scale replica of an F-35 Lightning II to be erected alongside the Lightning.
The rear section of the F-35 Lightning II, made up of the rear fuselage and vertical and horizontal tails of the aircraft, is built at Samlesbury.
The original Lightning was one of a number of aircraft which put Lancashire on the map as the home of military aircraft manufacturing in the UK and helped to establish English Electric, a predecessor of today’s BAE Systems, as a prime aircraft designer and manufacturer.
Since that time the Samlesbury site has played a key role in the design and build of some of the world’s most advanced military aircraft including the Canberra, Tornado,Typhoon and F-35.