he puz­zle as to why the Midair Squadron’s Can­berra PR9 XH134 did not reap­pear last sum­mer af­ter its first highly ac­claimed dis­play sea­son in 2014, was an­swered in a state­ment from East Mid­lands ac­coun­tants PKF Cooper Parry in Novem­ber 2015 that the firm had been ap­pointed as re­ceivers by Kem­ble Air­field Es­tates Lim­ited over ‘three iconic late 1950s Bri­tish jet fighter and bomber air­craft’. It goes on to say that the Midair Squadron Can­berra, XH134 (photo above) and two Hunter T7s (XL577/G-XMHD and XL600/G-RAXA) are be­ing sold ‘in or­der to re­pay debts that have been ac­crued and se­cured upon them’. This is borne out by ref­er­ence to the CAA’S G-INFO Data­base which shows the own­er­ship of the three air­craft was trans­ferred in De­cem­ber 2014 to Midair Squadron Ltd c/o PKF Cooper Parry.

Ty­rone Court­man, one of the ‘re­struc­tur­ing spe­cial­ists’ ar­rang­ing the sale, said: “It is a shame that cir­cum­stances have led to us be­ing ap­pointed re­ceivers of th­ese iconic 1950s jet air­craft. In the post-vul­can era, they po­ten­tially rep­re­sent our only re­main­ing insight and ex­po­sure to the sight and sound of 1950s Bri­tish aero­nau­ti­cal achieve­ment. They should be main­tained and op­er­ated in fly­ing con­di­tion for the ben­e­fit of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

Like Vul­can XH558 be­fore it, the Can­berra PR9 was pur­chased from the RAF when the type was fi­nally re­tired from ser­vice, by an in­di­vid­ual who was de­ter­mined to see, what was prob­a­bly the last ex­am­ple of Bri­tain’s first twin­jet bomber, pre­served in fly­ing con­di­tion. Michael Davis who was CEO of Midair SA Geneva and also had a controllin­g in­ter­est in Midair USA Inc, made a big in­vest­ment in get­ting the Can­berra, fol­lowed by the first of two Hun­ters, back into the air at Kem­ble. C2 Avi­a­tion, with key per­son­nel from the renowned Delta Jets or­gan­i­sa­tion, pro­vided the tech­ni­cal and engi­neer­ing ex­per­tise, with the new Midair Squadron Ltd op­er­at­ing the air­craft through un­til Oc­to­ber 2014.

How did this fall apart? Mike Davis’s busi­ness and fi­nan­cial in­ter­ests were linked to two ma­jor Rus­sian banks, and he was a non-ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor with the coun­try’s first in­de­pen­dent air­line Transaero. The lat­ter’s Boe­ing 737 air­lin­ers were ser­viced ex­clu­sively at Midair USA’S Rome, NY fa­cil­i­ties from 2010. Un­for­tu­nately the Rus­sian econ­omy ran into dif­fi­cul­ties and Transaero be­gan to fail in 2014, build­ing up huge debts be­fore fi­nally col­laps­ing in Oc­to­ber 2015, tak­ing Midair USA down with it. Sadly, this had al­ready cut off the abil­ity of the Midair Squadron to pay its cred­i­tors, re­sult­ing in the ac­tion by the own­ers of Kem­ble Air­field to­wards the end of 2014.

Al­though some­what over­whelmed by the Vul­can, Midair’s Can­berra, as the only rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the his­toric twin­jet fly­ing in Europe, proved very pop­u­lar with airshow crowds. Un­less some­one like Robert Plem­ing and the Vul­can to the Sky Trust come up with a plan to save the Midair’s PR9 XH134, we will have lost the op­por­tu­nity to keep an­other key ex­am­ple of Bri­tish avi­a­tion her­itage in the sky.

Above: Midair’s Can­berra and Hunter T7 XL577 in for­ma­tion and (lower im­age) XL577 tak­ing off for its first post-restora­tion flight at Kem­ble on 28 April 2014

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