Hawker Sea Fury T.20 VX281 (G-RNHF) returned to flight at North Weald Airfield, Essex, on Friday, 1 September 2017 following the conclusion of a three-year restoration by Weald Aviation Services Ltd. Lieutenant Commander Chris Gotke AFC carried out the aircraft’s initial test flight, and conducted a further two successful air tests on 2 September.
The Sea Fury was damaged following an engine failure at the RNAS Culdrose Air Day on 31 July 2014. After experiencing vibrations and a loss of power during an air display, Lt Cdr Gotke carried out an emergency landing during which the aircraft’s main undercarriage collapsed on touchdown and the aircraft departed the runway. The engine failure and damage resulting from the Sea Fury’s emergency landing necessitated extensive repairs, which have been carried out by Weald Aviation Services Ltd.
The restoration work included building a new Bristol Centaurus XVIII engine and propeller from the ground up and extensive work on the aircraft’s airframe, wings and control surfaces. This included carrying out repairs to the centre and outboard wing section underside skins, repairs to the ailerons and the installation of new flaps, gear doors and main gear legs. The Sea Fury’s internal systems were also thoroughly checked, particularly the oil system which was disassembled and inspected.
Primary restoration was completed in mid-May 2017, with the first engine runs taking place on 16 June 2017. At the date of publication, the Sea Fury has accumulated six hours of ground runs and four flying hours, and is approaching the conclusion of its flight test regime.
Sea Fury T.20 VX281 is owned by the Fly Navy Heritage Trust and is operated by the Royal Navy Historic Flight. Upon completion of flight testing at North Weald, the Sea Fury will return to its base at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset.
We extend our congratulations to the Weald Aviation team for their efforts in returning this fine aeroplane to the skies.