The Hawker Hurricane entered RAF service in December 1937 and went on to become one of the most successful British fighter aircraft of the second world war, operating with distinction in all major theatres of the conflict.
Until recently, the experience of flying in this iconic fighter has been the preserve of highly-qualified pilots who have gone through extensive training. But 84 years later, almost to the day, there is now a two-seat Hawker Hurricane available for those who want to experience the thrill of flying one of the greatest fighter aircraft of all time.
Now operated exclusively by Hurricane Heritage (who are already the custodians of Mk1 Hurricane R4118, which is widely regarded as the most significant aircraft to survive the Second World War) , the two seat aircraft BE505 will be based primarily at White Waltham Airfield near Maidenhead. White Waltham was one of 22 dispersal units for the Air Transport Auxiliary during the second World War, delivering thousands of Hurricanes to squadrons around the country. The aircraft will be available for flights from April 2022, bringing the nostalgic and evocative sound of a Merlin engine back to the skies above the Berkshire countryside.
James Brown of Hurricane Heritage stated “Our aim is to continue preserving the legacy of the Hawker Hurricane and the brave pilots that flew her, for future generations to respect, admire and enjoy.”
Painted in the colour scheme of RAF serial number BE505 ‘XP-L’ issued to No. 174 squadron at RAF Manston in Kent, BE505 saw action during the Dieppe amphibious landings on the 19th August 1942. Flown by Flight Sergeant C. Bryce Watson, the aircraft was shot down with Watson subsequently becoming a prisoner of war.
With Hurricane Heritage, the aircraft will commemorate the service of BE505. Built by the Canadian Car and Foundry Company in 1942 (Construction number CCF/R20023), as a Mk1 variant with the RAF serial number AG287. However, the aircraft was diverted to the RCAF and served with the Canadian serial number 1374. In 1943 the Hurricane was upgraded to a MkXII which included the installation of the more powerful Packard build Merlin 29 engine.
The aircraft was struck off charge in September 1944, before being returned to the UK in the early 2000s and restoration began in 2005 at Hawker Restorations Ltd in Suffolk. The first post restoration flight was completed in 2009 and the two-seat configuration was later added in 2020 where the aircraft became the world’s only two-seat Hawker Hurricane.
Many Hurricanes were built at the Hawker Langley factory in Slough, just 12 miles from White Waltham. Designed as a monoplane derivative of the Hawker Fury by Sir Sydney Camm, born in Windsor only a stone’s throw away from White Waltham, the aircraft first flew on the 5th November 1935. It served with distinction throughout the conflict, claiming more than 60 percent of all air victories in The Battle of Britain. It was continuously developed throughout the war and served as a fighter, bomber-interceptor, fighter-bomber, ground support and with the Royal Navy as the Sea Hurricane.
Bookings are now open for flight experience flights in the Hawker Hurricane through Hurricane Heritage www.hurricaneheritage.com (from White Waltham Airfield).