A prototype Hawker Siddeley/BAe Systems Hawk has been moved from MOD Boscombe Down to Old Sarum to become a unique addition to an historic collection.
Now the site of a museum, the former RAF base at Old Sarum was used in both world wars, first as a training centre for the Royal Flying Corps. It also was home for the School of Army Co-operation and some of the RAF’s special duties units.
Since 2012, Old Sarum has hosted the Boscombe Down Aviation Collection after it was relocated from the nearby testing facility, now run by UK defence giant QinetiQ. This particular Hawk, the first prototype, flew from Boscombe with the Empire Test Pilots’ School, and, to mark the 45th anniversary of the type entering RAF service the airframe was moved to join the aviation collection.
A Chinook of 27 Squadron was used to move the Hawk to its new home, carrying the trainer underslung on the short hop over the Wiltshire landscape. While one of the 27’s more unusual taskings, the Odiham-based squadron routinely trains by moving heavy or odd-sized loads beneath its iconic heavy lifters.
Its crews use such opportunities to hone their skills so, when needed, they can transport anything from artillery to tonnes of supplies. Moving the aircraft presented unique challenges, as pilot Flt Lt Chris Greensides commented: “[Its] relatively unconventional shape makes it more complex to rig for transport, also, by design it can create its own lift. To overcome this, we fly slowly to ensure these effects are minimised while [the load is] under the aircraft.”
Such sorties help ensure 27 Squadron is ready when needed. This was brilliantly illustrated by the unit’s efforts in July to prevent a potentially disastrous breach at the damaged Whaley Bridge dam, in the Peak District. Chinooks were employed to drop tonnes of sand and aggregates to shore up the unstable concrete edge of the Toddbrook reservoir. It led to 27 becoming popularly dubbed as the ‘The Dam Fixers’. ∎
Footage courtesy of the MOD.