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