Iconic Jetstram plane lands back at Sywell museum 50 years on from first visit

Enthusiasts undertaking massive restoration project to turn plane into a kids' classroom

By Kevin Nicholls
Saturday, 27th March 2021, 9:13 am
Updated Saturday, 27th March 2021, 9:16 am

If only planes could talk, Sywell Aviation Museum's latest arrival would have a few tales to tell.

A 53-year-old Jetstream 200 was delivered back where she first landed in 1970, working as a demonstrator for Jetstream Ltd based at Sywell and its parent company Terravia following the collapse of manufacturers Handley Page.

The Mark One version of the Jetstream was among the earliest off the production line, won the 1971 Daily Express National Air Race between Biggin Hill and Sywell and is a sister aircraft of the iconic Apollo Airways plane which starred in the James Bond movie Moonraker.

The Jetstream returns to Sywell 50 years on from its first visit after being acquired by the local Aviation Museum. Photos Damien Burke

Enthusiasts at Sywell Aviation Museum — which plans to reopen in June — rescued the aircraft when it was heading for the scrapheap and are now setting about a major restoration job following years of service as a prop for crash investigation students at Cranfield University, near Milton Keynes.

The plane has been nicknamed 'Jenny the Jetstream' and the project Operation Moonraker,

Ben Brown from the Museum revealed: "Jenny retired in 2000 and was laying abandoned at the end of the runway at Cranfield.

"We made contact in late 2018 and the University kindly agreed to donate her to the Museum for use as a classroom.

The plane headed up the M1 on the back of a lorry from its former home near Milton Keynes

"The project has already taken two years to get this far.

"Handley Page clearly never intended for their work to be taken apart and Jetstream wing spars are notoriously difficult to access and work on.

"Extensive de-panelling took place and then sadly she was broken into and had items stolen including windows and even the pilot’s seat cushions!

"Then Covid hit, effectively putting the whole project on hold. Work carried on sporadically during 2020, with her tail-plane and elevator, wing control surfaces and propellers being removed for transport.

The Jetstream's wings are reattached after 'landing' back in Northamptonshire

"More than 16,000 youngsters have had a guided tour of Sywell Museum during the last 20 years and many more have visited with their families but we have never before been able to put children INSIDE an aeroplane. The Jetstream will be perfect for that."

Now the search is on for Jetstream passenger seats, interior panels and fuselage windows to complete the restoration — and a company to help refit the passenger cabin which has been stripped out. If you're interested in joining the Museum team please get in touch.

Donations are also very welcome via Paypal to [email protected] The Museum would also like to thank Cranfield University, Sywell Aerodrome and THS Containers for their help.

The Museum plans to re-open each weekend and bank holiday from June 12 and also afternoons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays until the end of September. They are hosting a book and model sale on 22nd May 2022 from 10am-2pm and donations of model kits and accessories are welcomed.

For more information please contact [email protected] or call 07968 061708 or check out their Facebook page.