1950 de Havilland Chipmunk Two-seat Acrobatic Trainer Registration no. G-APLO
Classic Air Force's Chipmunk trainer was built at the de Havilland factory at Hawarden, Chester in 1950 and given the RAF serial number 'WB696'. The aircraft was accepted into service on 19th September and immediately issued to RAF Perth in Scotland. Here it was allocated the unit code 'RCR-C' and later re-coded as '61'. 'WB696' only stayed at Perth for a year as it moved to Dyce airfield on 30th November 1951 to serve with Aberdeen University Air Squadron. Again it was a short stay and exactly a year later it had been reallocated to RAF Scone. It continued to serve at Scone until 5th June 1953 when it was delivered to 9 MU (Maintenance Unit) at RAF Cosford, Shropshire and transferred to 'non-effective-stock' on 17th August 1955.
'WB696' was eventually offered for sale on 20th February 1956 and struck off charge on 27th June that same year. It was subsequently registered to D Montgomery in Ireland as 'EI-AHU' and delivered to Ireland via Liverpool's Speke Airport. No record of its service in Ireland survives, but its stay was a short one as it was sold on 21st January 1958 and ferried back to the UK on 3rd March. Its Irish registration was cancelled on 21st April and it was placed on the British civil aircraft register as 'G-APLO' with Derby Aviation of Burnaston, Derby on 1st May.
This history of short term ownership continued over the next few years as it was registered to Bahamas Helicopters on 2nd March 1959 and then to Andrew Roberts of Strathallan Castle on 13th May 1960.
Its nomadic lifestyle came to an end on 10th October 1960 when it returned to Perth once again, now under the ownership of Air Service Training (AST). It would spend the next nine years being used to train budding BOAC, BEA and BUA airline pilots, including Air Atlantique's Mike Collett. 'G-APLO' was sold again in October 1969, going to the opposite end of the country. A variety of Jersey residents owned the machine over the next decade including latterly, the Jersey Aero Club.
However by late 1980 the aircraft was becoming comparatively expensive to operate and it was put up for sale. There was some opposition to this amongst the JAC membership and to counter this, an arrangement was made whereby a group would be set up within the Club to raise a certain amount of money each year specifically to cover the aircraft's operating and maintenance costs.
The opportunity was taken at this time to refurbish the Chipmunk and change its livery. After much research, it was decided to paint the aircraft in the 1950s scheme of Cambridge University Air Squadron. No expense was spared to ensure a good finish; even real gold leaf was used to create the university crest on the engine cowlings! In this guise, 'G-APLO' was flown to many airfields and events throughout the UK and Europe over the next few years. Unfortunately, as the aircraft grew older so did the operating costs and in 1991 a decision was taken to sell it. The Chipmunk was purchased by Mike Collett, Chairman of Air Atlantique.
In recent years the decision was made to repaint the aeroplane to represent a Chipmunk of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. It was painted black with white training bands and RAF roundels and fin flash. Sadly, permission to fly in that colour scheme was later refused as the Chipmunk 'is still a current RAF aircraft'. The roundels and the fin flash had to be removed and the aircraft now carries its civil registration in large white letters.
The aircraft has more recently been operated on Air Atlantique's Air Operators Certificate taking fare paying passengers aloft to experience the joys of aerobatic flying.
The aircraft is in airworthy condition and is due for its next annual check on 24th March 2016. Its airworthiness review certificate renewal is due on 26th March 2016. We are advised that the airframe has 'clocked up' 8,789 hours and the engine 274 hours.
Please note, if the aircraft remains in the EU, VAT of 20% will be added to the sale price. The Aircraft will be flown back to base at Coventry following the sale. Purchasers are to make arrangements to collect the aircraft within 21 days of the auction.