Diligent in Doncaster
Ranging from 1936 HM14 Pou-de-ciel G-AEJZ to 1981-built ex-argentine Navy Aermacchi MB-339AA ‘0767’, the South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum’s (SYAM) eclectic collection occupies and surrounds the former RAF Doncaster’s final remains. Established at Firbeck on the Nottinghamshire/south Yorkshire border, SYAM was relocated in 1999. The new site importantly provided opportunities for covered exhibition and expansion. Today, with around seventy complete aircraft, sections and reproductions on show−many with local connections−the museum is flourishing but also has numerous restoration projects ongoing behind closed doors. 20 October’s Back Lot Tour and Storage Areas Day was the public’s second and final opportunity of the year to view them.
Inside the main workshop is Auster J/1N Alpha G-APKM’S fuselage frame. Built in 1958, deregistered only in October 2015, the four-seat tourer is a recent arrival from Spanhoe and is making steady progress towards joining Auster 1 (Taylorcraft Plus D) LB314 and the fuselage of Airedale G-ARYZ in the main exhibition hall. Having formerly equipped No 654 Squadron at Firbeck between September and December 1942, LB314 arrived in February 2018 and became SYAM’S first ‘warbird’. It represents, with the Airedale, the beginning and end of Auster’s aircraft production.
1946-built Cessna 140 G-BTYX’S cockpit refurbishment is another workshop venture. The museum already has Cessna F150G G-AVAA on display. Placed on blocks in a prominent central position, this is an important GA representative among the wider UK preservation scene’s overtly military content. Also being brought up to display standard are Sycamore HR14 XE317’S rotor blades which, owing to space limitations, will be reattached to the all-yellow, former RAF search and rescue helicopter’s rotor head in a folded-back position. Royal Navy
Endurance Flight Whirlwind HAR9 XN386’S main fuselage section is a current outdoor exhibit but its tail boom is being worked on in another building. The museum has no less than ‘four-and-a-half’ Whirlwinds in all including the Yorkshire Helicopter Preservation Group’s HAR1 XA870 in its striking orange and black HMS Protector ‘ice patrol’ markings and HAR10S XJ398 and XP345. The ‘half’ is the YHPG’S Whirlwind HAR1 XA862 front section. For details of winter opening times, check the website
Sycamore HR14 XE317 minus its rotor blades with Airedale G-ARYZ'S fuselage and the nose of HS748 G-OPFW behind
Cessna F150G G-AVAA has a central display position in the main hangar
The tubular framework of Auster J/1N Alpha G-APKM under restoration at Doncaster