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April 2018 update by Chairman, Ray Burrows

By the time you are reading this the AGM will be over and the membership of your Committee decided for the next year. I can tell you now that 2018 will be a very special year to remember in the Society’s history and the new Committee will have their work cut out for them. It will see our second Annual Report to the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland and once again it will show that we are developing and becoming one of the top volunteering experiences in the country whilst still providing that all important public benefit.


It should come as no surprise that our Patron Air Commodore Harv Smith (now Air Vice Marshal) is helping behind the scenes to enable us to acquire another airframe. I don’t want to say too much at the moment until things are firmed up but we could be in line for another ‘five-star’ attraction, and the good news does not end there. Out of the blue we have a member who is prepared to donate the required amount of money to purchase the aircraft. I am not talking a few pounds here, I’m talking tens of thousands! In the past we were given most generous loan which allowed us to purchase both the Spitfire and Phantom but this particular gesture is quite unrivalled in the 50-year history of the Society. 2018 is sure beginning to look like a golden year!


Keeping important things in mind, the unveiling of our Phantom is next up and I can tell you now she is looking absolutely stunning! There have been quite a few people working on the aircraft since Jim Robinson and I travelled to RAF Leuchars to view her in January 2015, but special credit must be given to member Ian Hendry for his dedication and enthusiasm in

Our Special Event on Wednesday 9th May. 2018 in Hangar 2 at Maze Long Kesh, willbe Colonel Rich Graham from USAF with his talk on flying the SR-71 Blackbird

getting XT864 painted. Ian tells me it would normally have been a six-man team doing the painting so to tackle and complete such a job alone is simply remarkable. As I type this we have close to 200 people coming so I guess Stephen Riley’s estimate of 300 might not be too far off the mark. I believe this will be one of the highlights of our 50th year celebrations and should not be missed if you have the chance to come along.


Not many days after the Phantom ceremony we are having another special event at the hangar, on the evening of Wednesday 9th May (PLEASE NOTE THIS IS THE SECOND WEDNESDAY OF THE MONTH) when we will have a presentation by Colonel Rich Graham, USAF (Retired) on flying the SR-71 Blackbird. This will be a shared talk with the Royal Aeronautical Society and again should be very well attended. Please take note of the date and the change of venue, the latter being necessary because the Island Centre wasn't available.