Our English Electric Lightning restoration update. Click here

Update on the restoration of our English Electric Lightning ZF580.


On Monday 5th Feb 2018 our EE Lightning left us. Not for long though. The aircraft was about to undergo a professional restoration to a museum quality static exhibit. The reason being that the aircraft is going to be on display at the prestigious RAF Cosford Air Show 2018 and join a list of iconic aircraft that defended our skies over the years. It’s the RAF 100 years anniversary this year.

The restoration is being carried out at St. Athan by GJD Services. The aircraft will then be displayed in June at Cosford – before making it’s way straight back to us for display here in Newquay.

The progress on the restoration has been remarkable. Just over one month after being loaded onto two HGVs the aircraft is assembled – and almost ready for the repaint.

More updates will follow. But it’s a great sight to see this iconic and rare aircraft being brought back to life – not defending our skies this time. But to educate this (and future generations) of the amazing technology from the 1950s.

We will have the Lightning displayed here at Newquay from the start of July. Please keep a close eye on our facebook, twitter or website for updates.L2 L1 L3


Our EE Lightning sets off for restoration (click here)

Monday 5th Feb 2018 was the day we saw our EE Lightning leave us. Not for long though. The aircraft is about to undergo a professional restoration to a museum quality static exhibit. The reason? the aircraft is going to be at the prestigious RAF Cosford Air Show 2018 and join a list of iconic aircraft that defended our skies over the years. It’s the RAF 100 years aniversary this year.

The restoration is being carried out at St. Athan by GJD Services. The aircraft will then be displayed in June at Cosford – before making it’s way straight back to us for display here in Newquay. What an amazing new exhibit we will have.

Here are a few photos of the departure from our centre today. A very exciting project for us.  1 2 5Loading up

On the M5Arriving at GJD Services

Inside the hangar

CAHC and RAF Cosford Air Show 2018

A fantastic opportunity has arisen for CAHC which we have grasped with both hands!

The RAF Cosford Air Show 2018 will be very special with celebrations of the centenary of the RAF, a part of which will be a unique display line-up of 100 aircraft from throughout the Royal Air Force’s history. To assist with this the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre has been asked to loan our English Electric Lightning ZF580 to form part of a Quick Reaction Alert line-up alongside a selection of other QRA aircraft, positioned together to showcase the evolution of air defence fighters which have defended Great Britain’s airspace since the 1950s, one of the Royal Air Force’s primary roles.

Needless to say, the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre is delighted to participate. In February GJD Services will collect the airframe from CAHC and transport it to their new base at St. Athan, where she will stop off for restoration and new paintwork. GJD will then deliver her to RAF Cosford in early June to take her place in the line-up. After the Centenary events ZF580 will return to Cornwall for display at her permanent home at CAHC.

It is a real compliment to be asked by the RAF Cosford to loan an aircraft for this event, not just to CAHC but to its outstanding force of volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the ever-growing fleet of aircraft and to greet, inform and entertain our thousands of visitors every year.

ZF580 is in fact an F.53 version, originally built for the Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force (53-672). She first flew on 28/11/67, piloted by none less than Roland Beamont of Canberra and TSR2 fame and interestingly her 7th flight was a demonstration to some Kuwaiti guests which helped seal the very important deal for the Kuwaiti Air Force Lightning purchase.

ZF580 was subsequently delivered to Saudi Arabia in 1968, operating on active service in the air defence and ground attack roles with the tail number 53-672. As an F.53, she was equipped with interchangeable gun, missile and SNEB rocket packs and extra hard points below and, at that time uniquely, above the wings. Ed Rundle, one of CAHC’s stalwart volunteers, actually maintained ZF580/53-672 out in the Middle East, working on secondment from BAC/BAE in various senior engine and propulsion roles between 1974 and 1986. Ed’s knowledge of ZF580, her innards and her history is of enormous value to CAHC and we are very grateful for his help.

At the end of her service ZF580 returned to the UK on 14/1/86, arriving at BAE Warton and, after 2,304 flying hours followed by a period of external storage, she was mounted on a pole as the Samlesbury BAE gateguard in 1990. The GRP replica English Electric Lightning that you see displayed today outside BAE’s headquarters alongside a replica Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II was fabricated by Gateguards UK (our next-door neighbours) using moulds taken from ZF580 herself.

After restoration by GJD her new colour scheme will be that of an RAF 74 “Tiger” Squadron aircraft, circa 1970, the classic silver of RAF Lightnings seen streaking through the UK’s skies to fend off intruders throughout the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

RAF Cosford Air Show Operations Manager, Mr Peter Reoch said, “Having an English Electric Lightning is vital to our RAF100 line-up, being an icon of the RAF during the Cold War. We’re very pleased that the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre & GJD Services are providing us with ZF580 to be part of our unique display.”

Co-founder of the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre, Richard Spencer-Breeze said, “It is a great honour for the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre to be asked loan our English Electric Lightning for the RAF100 QRA line up and we are tremendously grateful to GJD Services for their hard work restoring and transporting the aircraft on our behalf. Many of CAHC’s staff, volunteers and visitors have happy associations with RAF Cosford and this is a unique opportunity to contribute to the RAF Centenary celebrations at the same time as strengthening our relationship with the Royal Air Force.”



Four Rolls Royce engines fitted into the VC10


We were delighted to be able to get the four Rolls Royce Conway engines fitted in the iconic VC10 ZA148. Our fantastic team of volunteers spent a dry week in November fitting the engines, and once again making the aircraft look complete. The engines were removed back in 2013 after the aircraft came to Newquay to retire from service (as part of the decommission process)

January 2018 update.

All four engines fitted. What a brilliant job the team did. Just a little bit of finishing to be do once the weather calms down a bit!


Very detailed Trip Advisor review. Click here to read

Another hidden gem in Cornwall
My wife and I were caught on another rainy Cornwall summer day, and needed something to do that wouldn’t involve us getting soaked. A quick search on the internet suggested the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre.
It’s not particularly well signposted, but if you’re around the Newquay area, just follow the signs for Newquay Airport, and as you get closer, follow the signs for RAF St Mawgan.
A short drive up an old access road will find you facing an airport perimeter fence, with brightly coloured signs for the centre either side of a large gate.
Once inside, there is ample free parking, and their large grey RAF VC10 Refuelling Aircraft will indicate you’re in the right place.

The staff were very friendly, extremely helpful, and often on hand to answer any questions you may have.

If you’ve ever dreamed of sitting in the cockpit of a Harrier fighter jet, or holding the controls of a vintage Hawker Hunter, this is the place to go, as you are actually encouraged to do so.
There are several aircraft on site which you have pretty much unlimited access to, and the centre staff will accommodate small groups for tours of the aircraft, but due to restricted cabin / cockpit access, only small groups of people are permitted at any one time. Even on a wet summer afternoon during peak holiday season, we were able to access the aircraft as we approached them, but I presume this may not be the case on busy days, or as the venue becomes more popular.
I was thrilled to see that amongst their collection, they have an English Electric Lightning Fighter, which I first thought was only its fuselage, but during our exploration of the site, I found it’s wings, tail fin and various other parts, so it appears to be complete, and awaiting re-assembly (a good excuse for a future return visit??
Another iconic vintage jet is their Canberra, which is also complete, and you are invited inside to try out the pilots seat, and sit in the navigator’s chair, which is not something I’ve seen at any other aircraft museum, let alone with the whole collection on site!
The staff giving tours are all to happy to answer questions, and we found them to be very accommodating, and helpful, with funny stories, and interesting facts about the aircraft.
Children are welcome, and those we saw on the day of our visit were being allowed to sit in the aircraft, and were included in the talks by the staff.
In the main hangar, there is (in my opinion anyway) one of the biggest and most varied collections of plastic model aircraft kits, I have ever seen. If you can think of a military aircraft, there’s a fair chance you’ll find a model of it here?
There is a 50’s style American Diner on site, and while we didn’t indulge, the food and drinks seemed to be reasonably priced, and of good home made quality. We had a great afternoon, and I’d like to thank the staff at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre for making us feel so welcome.

I am an aviation enthusiast, so may be being a little biased? But my good lady wife isn’t, and she thoroughly enjoyed our time there.
I hope you enjoy this hidden gem as much as we did.
Go and see for yourself, and I’m pretty sure you won’t be disappointed?

St Mawgan

Brook Green STEM day at CAHC – click here

STEM day visit to Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre

Tue 03, 2017
STEM day visit to Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre
Wow! What an amazing day at the Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre with Year 11 & 12 students; the fun packed, informative and ‘awesome’ activity was a special visit arranged by our wonderful Mrs Eglinton for the annual STEM day.

The students were invited to board the various types of aircraft, ranging from 1960’s passenger planes to Jet fighters. The volunteer guides (some of them retired pilots) gave very informative tours of each plane, with detailed explanations about the history and mechanics of each one.The highlight though, for many of our students, was the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of the planes and feel like a true pilot, testing out the flying equipment.

As usual, our students made a big impression, a member of staff at the centre said they were ‘exceptional, very caring to each other, polite, and it was an absolute pleasure to have us as visitors’. Comments like this always makes me feel very proud to be part of our unique school community and highlights the enriching educational experience students gain from our offsite activities.


Trip Advisor Review


“The best”


Trip advisor review this week… thanks to everyone helping us by submitting a review. We are aiming for No 1 in Newquay!


A very special VC-10 day. (see more)

On Sunday we had the pleasure and privilege of spending the day with Sqn Ldr Kev Booth and his partner Joanne here at the centre.

Kev was part of the crew (flight engineer) that brought ZA148 – our stunning VC10, into Newquay in August 2013.

Having kept in touch with Kev, he kindly offered to come and see us and help us with questions, info, experiences and VC10 related things that would help us to pass on to visitors. In fact he did far more – many visitors on the day were lucky enough to sit and chat with Kev (who rightly occupied his old seat) and were able to chat and get the best tour ever.

Some of our own VC10 team, spent the day with Kev, and added some really helpful data to pass on to the tour guides.

Thanks also to Joanne – who chatted away with visitors all day and really helped make the day special – both for us and our visitors. “Well that was an unexpected bonus” was one comment from a visitor who visited with his son, as he walked back into the hangar after the tour.

So many, many thanks Kev and Jo. This was a great day for all involved and very much appreciated. See you again when we have the engines in too!