PostHeaderIcon Lightning-T5 Ground Crew

PostHeaderIcon Bio: Russell Carpenter

Russell Carpenter

Right from the age of 14 I dreamt about owning a Lightning.

My first opportunity came in October 1994 when I bought an F2 Cockpit (XN769) which I had in my garden in South East London for 7 years until I donated to the Malta Aviation museum in April 2001.

In October 2001 I bought XS458 from Tony Hulls which made my dream come true and that I owned an iconic piece of British Aviation Heritage. I realised then that I must preserve this wonderful aircraft for the next person because one day she will fly again!


PostHeaderIcon Bio: Terry Richards

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As a member of the ground crew it is a privilege to be working as part of the crew on XS 458 at Cranfield.

Ever since I was at school I had dreamt of joining the RAF, and was lucky enough to have my first postings with 111 Sqd and 56 Sqd on Lightnings at Wattisham. 

Having now worked on 458 for nearly 3 years and been part of the Team involved in the conversion of XS458 to Electric Start, it has been a real experience and a piece of aviation history. 





PostHeaderIcon Bio: Colin Ranson

I entered the RAF as a national serviceman in 1960.Colin Ranson

I was lucky to spend my second year with 83 Sqn which was the first squadron to operate the Avro Vulcan B2's. I  graduated as an electrician (AIR) but as the Vulcan's were new, I, along with the whole squadron, spent most of the time polishing out oil stains from the beautiful all White anti-flash paint scheme.

My first recollection of the Lightning was 1963, the Farnborough Airshow. Seeing 56 Squadron launch their Lightning's one after another,  watching them rotate into the verticle, hearing and feeling the vibrating noise and witnessing the awesome climbing power is still one of my happiest memories.

Following national service I enjoyed a career with commercial vehicles. My main job as a member of the T5 team is to service over 30 pieces of ground equipment used for access, mobility and ground power, all of which deserves as much attention as XS458 herself.


PostHeaderIcon Bio: Andrew Pearce

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I can't believe my luck being a member of the T5 team'. A point declared by Andrew when he joined in February 1996.

In the intervening years Andrew's First Class artistry has graced the 7 colour schemes worn by XS458 since her arrival to Cranfield in 1988. Two unique colour schemes, the 50th Anniversary scheme celebrating the P1, WG760's first flight and XS458's own 40th Birthday colours, both  pale into insignificance compared to the magnificent hand painted 92 Squadron crest cobra that now adorns XS458.

From team artist to packing the brake parachutes and undertaking all manner of tasks, large and small - in Andrews words "You really can't get any better than working on an English Electric Lightning' and after 14 years 'I still can't believe my luck'.


PostHeaderIcon Bio: Tony Hulls

Tony Hulls‘Lightnings! I was only ever going to own Lightnings’.

This homily to the English Electric fighter has resulted in decades of dedication. First filming the antics of these impressive fighters at RAF Binbrook during the 1970’s to being a founder member of the Bruntingthorpe based Lightning Preservation Group in 1988.
Not content with the group just owning the most powerful fighter in the world – it had to work! Engines turning and reheats burning so the public could experience the majestic power of the Lightning close up and personal.

By 1994 Tony had set a further challenge for himself – to personally own one of the two seat Lightning’s based at Cranfield. This he did in the shape of T5 Lightning, XS452. Once again, everything must work philosophy applied. Six years after landing at Cranfield in 1988, XS452 had been abandoned. Essential maintenance had to be undertaken. Within six months of ownership the engines were running. After two years the serviceability of XS452 was self evident and this attracted the attention of a new kid on the block for his new adventure – Thunder City's, Mike Beachyhead. He bought XS452 to fly! ‘I always bought XS452 to make it fly, not by my hands but to keep is serviceable so it would fly one day’ recalls Tony.

With the proceeds of XS452’s sale, Tony could buy the long time derelict T5 Lightning, XS458, again based at Cranfield. With experience gained from his other Lightning adventures the engines were once again running within six months of ownership. Not long after that the first runway ‘thunder runs’ were under way. In conjunction with essential maintenance the Lightning was resprayed, light grey first, followed by an authentic dark sea grey as worn by XS458 in the 1980’s as an experimental scheme. 226 OCU’s colourful red and white scheme came next then finally on the starboard side only the dashing 111 squadron’s yellow and black scheme.
After many reheat induced ‘thunder runs’ on Cranfields runway and a decade of Lightning ownership Tony relinquished XS458 to Russell Carpenter, the current owner.

Tony is still very active within the group so it’s fitting that he should still want XS458 to follow XS452 and stating ‘XS458 is serviceable and ready to fly, let’s hope it will happen soon!’