A RARE pioneering aeroplane has been given a new home on Wearside.
The retired Hawker Siddeley Trident 1C, once the “backbone” of British air travel, has been brought to the North East Aircraft Museum, in Washington.
Tony Jarrett, from the Save the Trident campaign group, spearheaded the operation to bring the medium-range three-engined airliner, believed to be the last of its kind, to the Old Washington Road venue from Durham Tees Valley Airport.
“Before we got our hands on it, the aircraft had sat at the airport for the past 28 years and was being used as a fire trainer,” said Tony. “Luckily, it wasn’t damaged in any way, so we convinced the owners to donate it to us and arranged for it to be taken to the museum.”
On Sunday, the fuselage of the 114ft plane, which weighs up to 28 tons, made the 43-mile trip from the airport to the museum on the back of a low-loader.
The wings and other parts are expected to arrive in the coming months.
“Because of the size of the aircraft, we’ve had to bring it over bit by bit,” said Tony, from Peterborough.
“We started to strip it down in 2009 to make it easier to transport.
“We’ve been given a lot of support by Darlington-based MSD Cranes.
“We would have really struggled without their help.”
Designed by de Havilland and built by Hawker Siddeley Aviation in the 1960s and 1970s, the Trident was notable for its cutting-edge avionics, which enabled it to become the first airliner to make a fully-automatic approach and landing in revenue service in 1965.
It was also the sole airliner capable of automatic landings in regular service from 1966, until versions of the Lockheed TriStar were also cleared to perform them in the mid-1970s.
“It will be about a year before it is fully reassembled, but once the work is complete we expect it to be the flagship of our civil aviation display,” said museum chairman Hugh Lewell.
For more information about the aircraft, visit www.savethetrident.org.
THE Trident’s first flight was in January 1962.
Although Tridents were produced, only 24 1Cs were ever made.
The aircraft was mainly used by British Airways – as well as Cyprus Airways – until it was retired in the early-mid 1980s.
However, the Trident remained active in the Air China service until the 1990s.