Vintage comings and goings, restorations and maintenance, plus an air show in Oz
Harvard G-TVIJ, Boeing Stearman G-CIOC and Stinson Reliant NC50238 left the UK together on 13 November 2019 to start an epic cross-continent adventure. Routing across France, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and down through the Balkans to Greece and Egypt, these three US classic aircraft headed for north-west Saudi Arabia where they were due to arrive at the new Prince Abdul Majeed bin Abdulaziz Airport in early December.
A few miles away at the historic city of Al Ula the second ‘Winter at Tantora’ Festival, a twelve-week cultural/arts tourist programme, is taking place from 19 December 2019 to 7 March 2020. Alongside the weekend performances there are a number of special events such as a Balloon Festival (2-11 January 2020) and experiences for visitors including horse-riding, touring, hot air balloon and helicopter flights. To these has now been added ‘vintage aircraft flights above the unique, historic landscape of the Al Madinah region’. The single-engine trio was joined by Beech D18S G-BKGL for the latter part of the journey, and will be offering sightseeing and air experience flights throughout the festival.
The aircraft have been acquired by the Royal Commission for Al Ula, ‘Aerial Advantage’ being listed by the CAA as the new owners on 22 November. The CCF T-6 Harvard 4, previously owned by Rob Davies, is painted in a USAF overall yellow scheme with the serial 28521. Twin-beech G-BKGL, flown by Nick Houghton at many UK events over the past couple of years, served with the RCAF but is painted in USAAC colours with serial 1164 and D-day stripes. Both the AT-19 Reliant and the A75N-1 Stearman were imported from the USA and restored to fly at Enstone from 2015. The Stinson, NC50238 stayed on the FAA register while flown from Compton Abbas, and the Stearman, G-CIOC went to Skymax (Aviation) at Damyns Hall to fly wing-walkers. All four of the aircraft are remaining on their respective CAA/FAA registers, and each will be operated in Saudi Arabia under an exemption.
While it is hoped that the twin might eventually return to the UK, Skymax Aviation has replaced ‘Oscar-charlie’ with Stearman G-BNIW for its wingwalking activities in 2020.
Beech D18S G-BKGL caught up with the Reliant, Harvard and Stearman in Croatia on 23 November
ABOVE LEFT: the Saudi-bound Reliant, seen here over the Cotswolds during a Pilot flight test in 2015
ABOVE RIGHT: all-yellow Harvard 4 G-TVIJ at Little Gransden being displayed by former owner Rob Davies
Stearman G-CIOC during its Nitra, Slovakia stop-over