T5 - Feedback
Nick Thompson had the joy and experience of a Lightning ride, here is his own words he describes his feelings.
'Like Thor's hammer hitting you up the backside, the power and thrust of a T5 Lightning run really is one of the ultimate jet aircraft experiences.
Owner Russell Carpenter sums it up best. As his pilot, RAF veteran Sqn Ldr Dennis Brooks, fires up the twin engine beast - he looks over to me like a smitten teenager and yells at the outer casing of my ear protectors 'it's awesome isn't it!'. You have to agree.
The Lightning is basically a missile with a pilot, and in this case a passenger, me, sitting on top of it. It is a rocket ship built for speed. The noises that the engines generate are immense, and shake the ground around your feet as the vibrations translate to your chest. And the acceleration...oh the acceleration - never have the words 'just sit back and enjoy the ride' been so apt and yet so inane.
You have no option but to sit back, because the cold war fighter launches from zero to hero (around 130 mph) in just a matter of moments - not seconds. With full reheat working away the thrust almost immediately lifts the nose towards the sky.
But alas, XS458 hasn't got the license to take off, so before you get your breath back, it is brakes on, airbrakes engaged and parachute released to slow down before the end of the runway arrives.
Let me be frank here, we are not talking about a Ferrari in a Mayfair showroom. These things are rare, and getting rarer. In fact only 22 T5's (a twin seat version of the original single seat fighter) were ever built and only one remains servicable - this one.
The runway run itself is only half of the experience.
Russell has assembled a knowledgeable and dedicated ground crew and the whole day is geared up to learning about the aircraft, getting to know it, and witnessing its beauty and power from both inside and out.
Ex-pilots and ground crew, enthusiasts, and keen aviation photographers all talk and share stories whilst wandering around, touching and exploring the silver bird. The historical value and the feeling you get being up close and personal with a legand like this is not to be underestimated.
After my runway run, I was almost in tears with the emotion and with my legs trembling I found it hard to put the experience into words.
But I hope these words will do.....go do it.....you will not regret it!'
It is always gratifying to have given customers a memorable day, its even better when they leave feedback of the occasion - here's Henry Palsrok's....
'The Lightning is - to say the least - a very inspiring aircraft. It is inspiring when you get close to it at the museum in Duxford and you can even get a little closer to it in Hendon, but there is no place where you can get closer to it than at Cranfield, where Russell Carpenter and his dedicated team literally give you 'the feel' of the aircraft. After Dennis Brooks' introduction to the cockpit-instrumentation I was strapped into the aircraft I only knew from museums, photographs and luckily - from childhood, because I had seen them flying at an airshow at RAFG Wildenrath in the seventies. Even then the Lightnings of 19 and 92 squadrons made more of an impression on me than the F-104's from the airbase I lived close to in the Netherlands. More than 35 years later I finally got the chance to be seated in a Lightning, with full afterburner kicking in when the brakes were released and speed building up at a rate I had never experienced before in my entire life as a professional pilot. It gives you a smile that does not fade easily.
I will have to go back to Cranfield one more time'
From The Netherlands
After his thrilling ride in XS458, George wrote in his words;
'I thoroughly enjoyed the day!
To have the opportunity to sit in such an iconic symbol of British aviation and get a briefing from an ex-Lightning pilot like Dennis Brooks (great guy) was fantastic.
The acceleration was tremendous, I was pinned right back in my seat. It was over in a blink of an eye but it was enough to give me an idea of what it must have been like taking off and going vertical all the way to 55,000ft! Being strapped in the cockpit with the engines running and taxying around was thrilling in itself!
It's great to be able to say 'I've sat in an English Electric Lightning on reheat'. Not a lot of people can say that!
Now, can we get it airworthy please!'
Regards, George Cheeseman
Anna kindly wrote in this feedback from the experiences gained by her father, Ivor Hindmarch after a thunder run in XS458.
'My father remembers vividly the sound of 16 Lightnings taking off from Farnborough in the dim and distant past, and has always had an interest in them.
For fathers day and to celebrate the fact he had just passed his 80th birthday, I wanted to organise something special for him that would be a great experience.
And a great experience it was indeed!
After plenty of time to photograph the Lightning and examine it close up, he was able to spend time in the cockpit asking questions and talking to the pilot, Dennis Brooks. He then donned his helmet and was strapped into the aircraft.
The sound of the static reheat was indescribable, evan as a bystander. Then the Lightning taxied out onto the runway before its high-speed run. The speed was incredible and my father described to me how the sheer power, forces you back into your seat as it speeds down the runway.
We were lucky enough that a second person was also having a high-speed run in the afternoon. My dad was therefore able to view the reheat and the taxi run from outside the aircraft and enjoy what we had seen on his run.
Russell and the team were very friendly and accommodating, turning the plane round to every angle so we could get the best pictures, answering all our questions and ensuring we all had an exciting yet relaxing day. My father and I took over 300 photos between us, so I think that stands as an indication of just how much of a fansatically memorable day it was.
Thank you, to all the team, for such a great day'.
An exert from an email received from David Cawthorne after he experienced a high speed runway run in XS458;
"Just thought it would be fitting to drop you a line to say a big thanks for Saturday. I can honestly say that this was one of the best days of my life".
I'd be grateful if you could say thanks to all the guys from me, and also to Dennis for doing such a fantastic job and letting me experience something quite extraordinary".
"Thanks again, I feel quite privileged".
"Best regards, Dave"