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Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

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Rich H
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Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Rich H » Thu Aug 20, 2015 1:07 pm

It has been announced that the Classic Air Force based at Coventry airport will close and the aircraft will be sold, some ( the 'pleasure flyers') possibly as soon as next month at Bonhams auction.

Press Release:

Historic Aircraft Collection to be Sold
International Buyers Looking to Acquire Classic British Machines

Europe’s largest collection of post-war classic aircraft is to be sold. The Classic Air Force, which operates over thirty planes, including the world’s oldest flyable jet, is actively inviting offers from interested organisations and individuals. The move follows the announcement by CAF’s founder, Mike Collett, that he intends to retire.

Now 72, Collett co-founded the Air Atlantique group in 1977, a freight and pollution control company that at one time owned the world’s largest fleet of WW2 Dakota freighters.

The Classic Air Force stable is unusual in that it focuses mainly on the Cold War years, an era ignored by most other historic collections. Most of its aircraft are either flyable or in the final stages of restoration to flight. They are a frequent and popular sight at air shows, and are regularly to be seen in the skies above the Flight’s headquarters at Coventry Airport. Highlights include two Gloster Meteors – the T7, which is now the world’s oldest flyable jet, and the NF-11 night-fighter, which is the world’s only example still flying. The collection also boasts the actual Canberra that achieved a world altitude record of 70,310 feet (21,469 metres) in 1957.

“The absolute essential is that they keep flying,” says Collett. “These are living pieces of history, capable of teaching piloting and engineering skills that could otherwise be lost. Our commitment has always been to keep these aircraft alive and operational rather than let them become dead museum pieces.
“All other considerations being second to that, I’m open to suggestions. If a committed, well-funded organisation puts a convincing proposition to me then it may well be possible for the whole collection to pass into new ownership. In many ways that’s my favourite scenario.”

So does that mean that the collection could be broken up?

“I’d prefer for them to remain a collection, of course, but if an offer came in for an individual airframe, and I was satisfied that the buyer could maintain it in airworthy condition, then of course I’d give it serious consideration, but I’m more interested in each aeroplane’s future as living, flying history than I am in a tempting financial offer.”

Mike’s timing for his retirement and the potential sale or transfer of the collection is relaxed. “I’m not looking for a quick result,” he says. “I’m committed to finding the right owners or partners. A small selection of aircraft will be auctioned by Bonham’s in September, but I’m quite happy if it takes a year to find the right homes for the remainder. Once I’m sure that these unique aeroplanes will keep on flying for future generations then I’ll feel I’ve done my job.”

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Unknown74 » Thu Aug 20, 2015 1:24 pm

Does this mean both Coventry and Newquay?

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Rich H
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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Rich H » Thu Aug 20, 2015 1:46 pm

The CAF operation at Newquay ceased earlier this year and the 'flyables' went back to Coventry. The majority (if not all) of the static aircraft were then taken over by some of the Cornish CAF volunteers who have set up their own organisation based at Newquay Airport called Cornish Heritage Aviation Centre. See: http://www.cornwallaviationhc.co.uk/

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Josh B » Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:13 pm

Hopefully, ( but some how I doubt they all will!) They will all stay in the UK? !!
Im afraid to say these news doesn't come as a surprise!
CAF and the way it's been run has been up and down over the last few years. :whistle:
I guess we'll just have to wait and see what sell's for what where it's new home will be! :unsure:

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Vulcanone » Thu Aug 20, 2015 4:24 pm

Despite what has happened at Newquay earlier this year, which may or may not be down to the fact that Mike Collett has now announced his retirement. I think its safe to say that he has done a substantial amount of things to keep a large amount of aircraft from the ex Military and civil scene flying for so long.

And so some of the younger users of this board might do well to think before criticising what has gone on recently. :ninja:

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Josh B » Thu Aug 20, 2015 5:38 pm

Vulcanone wrote:
And so some of the younger users of this board might do well to think before criticising what has gone on recently. :ninja:

Tim S
Younger users :halo:
I wasn't being critical... just saying it how it is!
It's been an interesting couple of years for CAF and maybe mike has desided that now is the time move his collection on and concentrate on his retirement. And who could blame him.. !

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Richard B » Thu Aug 20, 2015 6:28 pm

Would be a very good place for the VTTS to try and take on, move the Vulcan to the center of the country and major
manufacturering area in the UK.

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by mark.alan.barnes » Thu Aug 20, 2015 8:28 pm

Living near Coventry/Baginton it is always a treat to see the aircraft that come in to get some work done. Even the BBMF Lanc' has been into Cov' last year. Venom, Vampire, Meteors (F7 being my favourite), had the Canberra OTT about five years ago too.

I was perhaps too wishful to see the Shackleton back in the air as well. Maybe this is now unlikely to happen but VTTS proved that anything is possible once the public get behind it.

The Dakota is a wonderful aircraft and I've been very privileged to see them so often AND fly in one of it's last passenger flights in 2008.

It's a shame but I think that we should spare a thought for some of the technical team who may be facing an uncertain future and thank the team at CAF/Atlantique for keeping us entertained for so long.
Last edited by mark.alan.barnes on Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by KyleG » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:26 pm

Vulcanone wrote:And so some of the younger users of this board might do well to think before criticising what has gone on recently. :ninja:
There isn't much that you can't criticise. CAF have done a great job at keeping these aircraft in the airshow circuit, but losing more than 10 times what you made in your first year isn't something just to hide under the table. Something obviously went badly wrong at Newquay.

As for the comment suggesting VTTS should take the aircraft over, surely they exist as a very specialised organisation, solely to preserve XH558, not a varied collection of Cold War aircraft? That's putting aside the fact that Coventry already has a Vulcan!
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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by richw_82 » Fri Aug 21, 2015 10:28 am

mark.alan.barnes wrote:I was perhaps too wishful to see the Shackleton back in the air swell. Maybe this is now unlikely to happen but VTTS proved that anything is possible once the public get behind it.
Hang on to your wish - our Shackleton is not part of the fleet, we are just housed there with our long time friends at CAF. Our activities to return her to flight will continue. :thumb:

Regards,

Rich

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by mark.alan.barnes » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:20 pm

:thumbs: :clap: :clap: :clap:

Thanks for that Rich. That's really brightened my day!

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Rich H » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:32 pm

KyleG wrote:There isn't much that you can't criticise.
KyleG, that is both unfair and, in my view, wrong. The heritage aspect of Air Atlantique - what you know now as CAF - started under a different guise with just a couple of aircraft some 30 years ago. During that time Mike Collett has done much to ensure the presence of classic cold war jets and other aircraft in our skies. He has been able to do this because they were funded by the successful businesses that he both ran and was involved with. People may not agree with some of things MC has done or the way he has done them, but the reality is he has been very successful and aircraft which would have gone abroad, stood in a museum or to the scrap heap have graced our skies for three decades. As someone pointed out elsewhere "While other people bemoaned the loss of classic British aircraft, Mike Collett got off his **** and did something about it". Over the course of 50+yrs business and 30yrs heritage operations, there is probably not as much to criticise as you imply. Hopefully some (it's probably too much to hope for all) of the aircraft will find a good home in this country.
KyleG wrote:CAF have done a great job at keeping these aircraft in the airshow circuit, but losing more than 10 times what you made in your first year isn't something just to hide under the table. Something obviously went badly wrong at Newquay.
There is a saying in aviation: "How do you make a small fortune in aviation? Start with a large one". The whole heritage operation over three decades has cost millions & millions and it has never really (to use your words) made money - not that it existed primarily for that purpose. Anyway, the figures you quote are wrong.
KyleG wrote:As for the comment suggesting VTTS should take the aircraft over, surely they exist as a very specialised organisation, solely to preserve XH558, not a varied collection of Cold War aircraft? That's putting aside the fact that Coventry already has a Vulcan!
As you say, they are a very specialised organisation. They are experts at what they do both in maintaining a designated 'complex' aircraft and raising the substantial funds to keep it operating. Again it's another aircraft organisation where not everyone agrees with what they do or how they do it. However, if VTTS did take on any of the Coventry aircraft they could and, I'm sure, would easily adapt.

Finally, I would say that Dr Pleming and Mike Collett, and their respective organisations, seem to attract ire despite being successful at what they do and keeping their aircraft flying. Both operations will cease later this year (although Coventry might continue next year until the aircraft are sold) which raises the question: who or what will take their place?

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Rich H » Fri Aug 21, 2015 12:33 pm

richw_82 wrote:
mark.alan.barnes wrote:I was perhaps too wishful to see the Shackleton back in the air swell. Maybe this is now unlikely to happen but VTTS proved that anything is possible once the public get behind it.
Hang on to your wish - our Shackleton is not part of the fleet, we are just housed there with our long time friends at CAF. Our activities to return her to flight will continue. :thumb:

Regards,

Rich
Rich

Best of luck to you and the team. Hope the current 'upset' doesn't cause you problems!

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by KyleG » Fri Aug 21, 2015 1:02 pm

Rich H wrote:
KyleG wrote:There isn't much that you can't criticise.
KyleG, that is both unfair and, in my view, wrong. The heritage aspect of Air Atlantique - what you know now as CAF - started under a different guise with just a couple of aircraft some 30 years ago. During that time Mike Collett has done much to ensure the presence of classic cold war jets and other aircraft in our skies. He has been able to do this because they were funded by the successful businesses that he both ran and was involved with. People may not agree with some of things MC has done or the way he has done them, but the reality is he has been very successful and aircraft which would have gone abroad, stood in a museum or to the scrap heap have graced our skies for three decades. As someone pointed out elsewhere "While other people bemoaned the loss of classic British aircraft, Mike Collett got off his **** and did something about it". Over the course of 50+yrs business and 30yrs heritage operations, there is probably not as much to criticise as you imply. Hopefully some (it's probably too much to hope for all) of the aircraft will find a good home in this country.
I agree, CAF have done a lot for aircraft preservation, and they should be highly commended for that. My comment was aimed more towards the most recent developments such as the withdrawal from Newquay, which was arguably handled very poorly.
Rich H wrote:
KyleG wrote:CAF have done a great job at keeping these aircraft in the airshow circuit, but losing more than 10 times what you made in your first year isn't something just to hide under the table. Something obviously went badly wrong at Newquay.
There is a saying in aviation: "How do you make a small fortune in aviation? Start with a large one". The whole heritage operation over three decades has cost millions & millions and it has never really (to use your words) made money - not that it existed primarily for that purpose. Anyway, the figures you quote are wrong.
Alright, it's not 10 times as I thought it was, having just rechecked their FYE summary. They still lost a shedload more than they earned back, and the fact that they are nearly 300 days overdue for the next report, it doesn't seem as if things improved. Before you say I'm wrong on that, I doubt the CAF has been lying to the charity commission ;) http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Sh ... ryNumber=0
Rich H wrote:
KyleG wrote:As for the comment suggesting VTTS should take the aircraft over, surely they exist as a very specialised organisation, solely to preserve XH558, not a varied collection of Cold War aircraft? That's putting aside the fact that Coventry already has a Vulcan!
As you say, they are a very specialised organisation. They are experts at what they do both in maintaining a designated 'complex' aircraft and raising the substantial funds to keep it operating. Again it's another aircraft organisation where not everyone agrees with what they do or how they do it. However, if VTTS did take on any of the Coventry aircraft they could and, I'm sure, would easily adapt.

Finally, I would say that Dr Pleming and Mike Collett, and their respective organisations, seem to attract ire despite being successful at what they do and keeping their aircraft flying. Both operations will cease later this year (although Coventry might continue next year until the aircraft are sold) which raises the question: who or what will take their place?
I'm sure they would adapt, but my question is why do it in the first place? VTTS exist solely for XH558, yet there are other places, like Bruntingthorpe (who could at least keep some aircraft running) who could support the aircraft. I'm not saying VTTS couldn't keep the aircraft going, but in my mind it wouldn't seem right without a major rebrand of the entire organisation.
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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Tally-ho » Fri Aug 21, 2015 1:08 pm

Rich H wrote: As someone pointed out elsewhere "While other people bemoaned the loss of classic British aircraft, Mike Collett got off his **** and did something about it". Over the course of 50+yrs business and 30yrs heritage operations ....
And that is precisely the kernel of the story. It's the movers and shakers that make things happen - thank you to MC and all those at Coventry and Classic Air Force that gave us joy over the years.

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Vulcanone » Fri Aug 21, 2015 2:41 pm

Josh

I was having a bit of a bad day, my point is aimed at some who have joined the forum from the pit of despair that is social media...

Some of the questions that came out for the Indian deployment and also the VERA trip to Coningsby being my proof of my point. Admittedly I have worked in a higher up position in the aviation publishing industry, several times. But somethings that are asked on here are :whistle:

Tim

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Rich H » Fri Aug 21, 2015 8:53 pm

First five aircraft to go are the Chipmunk, Proctor, Rapide (Delta Lima - the RAF schemed a/c), Vampire T.55 and the Anson.

To be auctioned by Bonhams at Goodwood on 12th September

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Headancer » Fri Aug 21, 2015 9:38 pm

It would be great to see some of these aircraft at Hawarden.

Here you have an active runway with access from active groups all the year round, not just summer.

Tourism from Chester is already in place,attracting punters to the airfield would not be an issue, two mega population centres less than an hour away, Liverpool and Manchester.

To me it seems an ideal if you could get funding in place re Airbus and have them involved from the educational side re promotion of apprenticeships for engineering etc.

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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by Velvet Glove » Sun Aug 23, 2015 11:52 am

Gloucestershire Echo | Posted: August 22, 2015 ~
http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk/Gl ... story.html
.



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Re: Classic Air Force to Close, Planes to be Sold

Post by jem60 » Mon Aug 24, 2015 7:32 am

Very worried about this!. Who in this country is going to buy twin-engined Vintage Jets. If an organisation like Classic Air Force can't make it economically viable, then I can't see any individual, or organisation taking this on. By the way, anyone seen the Canberra PR9 flying this year????. Get my meaning??

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