UK Phantom Heritage Centre

by British Phantom Aviation Group in Kemble, England, United Kingdom

We did it
On 13th September 2021 we successfully raised £16,588 with 361 supporters in 35 days

To build premises to display our aircraft and explain their history for the benefit of the public.

by British Phantom Aviation Group in Kemble, England, United Kingdom

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Since embarking on active aircraft preservation work in 2015, the British Phantom Aviation Group (BPAG) have achieved some remarkable successes. Most notably the restoration of the cockpit section of XV490 at Newark Air Museum and the rescue of XV582 ‘Black Mike’ from the former RAF Leuchars in Scotland, the latter of which subsequently went on static display to great acclaim at the RAF 100 celebrations in 2018.

Both these projects were lucky enough to benefit from being hosted by other organisations (NAM and RAF Cosford respectively) but the time has now come for the BPAG to consolidate its current and future projects into one place. We are therefore proud to announce our plans for a UK Phantom Heritage Centre, to be located at Cotswold Airport (formerly RAF Kemble) in Gloucestershire. This will be a facility that is open to the public as a living history environment of the Cold War era, where the story of the British F-4 in active service can be understood by visitors, as well as being a tribute to the brave men and women who stood in defence of the country through some very dark times.

BACKGROUND

The BPAG are a non-profit, volunteer organisation, working within the aviation heritage sector, that are dedicated to restoring and preserving UK specific examples of the F-4 Phantom aircraft that served with either the Royal Air Force or the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. It is managed and administrated by a mixture of ex-forces personnel and civilian aircraft enthusiasts and has been involved in active projects since 2015. The story of the Group’s work can be read in more detail on the BPAG’s website here- https://bpag.co.uk/about/

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When the ‘Black Mike’ project ended in November 2018, the BPAG already had plans for new challenges. The first was F-4J(UK) ZE360, which at the time was resident at a location in Kent, and F-4K XT597, in private storage in Suffolk but available for sale. Both these aircraft were obtained during 2019 and preservation work began on ZE360 in September. F-4M XT905 was added to the roster in 2020. Arrangements were also in place for the BPAG to establish workshops and visitor facilities at an airfield in the Midlands and initial groundwork was scheduled to commence in early 2020. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic forced these plans to change. However, in August 2020, the Group were offered a lifeline by Cotswold Airport in Gloucestershire.

Cotswold Airport is already home to a number of historic aircraft, including Buccaneer, Hunter, Canberra, Gnat, Spitfire and other military types as well as a large collection of classic airliners. The plans and ambitions of the airport management and the facilities and support that the airport can provide will ensure an active and secure future for both the BPAG and our aircraft and this is an opportunity that we have gratefully accepted. However, although the airport will be hosting the Group, we will remain a separate entity and as such all costs related to establishing ourselves on site will be our own responsibility. It is in this regard that we are asking for your help. It is vital that we get our aircraft undercover. This is so the preservation work can go ahead more quickly, safely and efficiently. It will also protect them from the ravages of the British weather and will provide a suitable environment for us to open up to the public so visitors can experience for themselves the history and legacy of these iconic aircraft.

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THE VISION

The UK Phantom Heritage Centre will not just be a place for us to work. It will also be a museum, a meeting place, a venue, a school and a repository of knowledge. It will be the only place in the world where examples of all three marques of the UK version of the F-4 Phantom can be seen together. It will also be the only place in the world where a F-4J(UK) is on display in its original RAF colours.

In addition, it will be home to two other British Phantom cockpit sections and will also form a display space for our growing collection of Phantom parts, components, related equipment and supplies, uniforms, memorabilia, rarities and much more. We intend to support enthusiasts, fans, researchers, students and just the plain curious in their quest for knowledge of the UK F-4 and classic jets. We particularly look forward to welcoming veterans of the forces and respecting and celebrating the past and their traditions, honouring those who have served and remembering those lost. The BPAG will also work in co-operation with other restoration groups to share and preserve all existing mechanical skills, provide technical support and advice and offer training to a new generation of engineers interested in STEMS, modern and general aviation and heritage jets.

All this is feasible and within our grasp but there is much to do to make it happen.

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THE PLAN

We have been offered an area of land adjacent to the north taxiway (opposite Britannia XM496) at Cotswold Airport. Although this is no longer an active aircraft taxiway, it is used for frequent vehicle movements and as such has been maintained in good condition. It connects to the threshold of runway 80 to the SW and the main airport facilities to the NE and is a spacious area with significant room for expansion in the future.

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The Group is also in the fortunate position of recently receiving a generous pledge of a whole building. This is a steel frame structure (formerly an industrial warehouse) of 40 meters x 20 metres, which is currently located in Merseyside and is scheduled to be replaced later in 2021. The current owners have donated this building to the BPAG and our intention is for it to be dismantled and transferred to Cotswold Airport for use as the first part of our workshops and visitor centre. So, at this point, we have arrangements in place for ground underneath our feet and a roof over our heads. However, in order to bring these elements together and get the aircraft restoration projects underway, we need to start with some basic building work.

Simply put, we will need to excavate foundations for the main building (including laying a reinforced concrete floor), erect smaller outbuildings for storage and maintenance and connect the area to utilities and drainage. Unfortunately, these fundamental needs are going to involve a large amount of upfront expenditure. We do have an advantage, in that one of the BPAG management team (and owner of XT597) Mark Abbott, is the owner of a large construction firm and so will be leading and supervising the project and the BPAG volunteers will also be providing some of the workforce. Despite these benefits, we will still need to raise a substantial lump sum to fund materials, machinery and specialist labour.

We estimate that preparing the ground for erecting a permanent building will cost around £25,000. This will also allow us to get the aircraft under temporary cover by utilising aluminium truss framed battlefield shelters, the first of which belongs to XT597’s owner Mark Abbott (two further examples of which were kindly donated to us by David Walton after the closure of the aircraft facility at Bruntingthorpe and were dismantled by a team from Abbott Building as a campaign contribution). These structures will keep the aircraft safe until the permanent building arrives on site and will allow preservation work to start almost immediately.

THANK YOU

Although the UK is blessed with a number of excellent aircraft museums, the understandable need for these establishments to appeal to a large cross section of the public has left opportunities for smaller specialist collections, that organisations like the BPAG are filling on a grassroots level. However, the very nature of aircraft restoration and the space and facilities it requires to be done successfully means that it is an expensive undertaking. The BPAG realises that what we are proposing is ambitious but we hope you will agree with us that it is worthwhile. We are in position to make a significant contribution to the preservation of the UK’s aviation history. With the success of our previous projects, the BPAG have proven that we have the skills, knowledge and motivation to make it happen, but this time around we need the finances. We therefore respectfully ask you to consider donating to this campaign and therefore help to secure a future for our projects and keep the history and memories alive, not just for all the current generations but also for those yet to come.

*Terms and Conditions for Prize Draw

  • Entrants must be over 18 years of age.
  • Open to anyone (over the age of 18) worldwide except employees of the Promoters, their families, agents or anyone professionally connected with the draw.  
  • Entries will be accepted between 1200 hrs GMT on Monday 9th August 2021 and 11.59 hrs GMT on Monday 13th September 2021. 
  • Entrants may enter as many times as they like.
  • To enter, make a pledge on this project and select a reward which includes prize draw entry when you make your pledge. Pledges which are donations without rewards will not be entered.
  • Entrants can pledge to this campaign without entering the prize draw.
  • To enter the draw without pledging, please send a postcard with your name, address, email address and contact telephone number to: British Phantom Aviation Group, 23 Main Street, Saltby, Leicestershire, LE14 4QW. Entries must be sent on a postcard or on or within an envelope. Entries received on anything other than a postcard or within an envelope will not be accepted. In the case of multiple entries received in a single envelope or postcard, only one entry will be entered into the promotion. Entries sent by post must be received by the closing date and time for receipt of entries. Postal entries without correct and sufficient postage paid will be invalid and will not be considered. Personal and hand deliveries will not be accepted.
  • Ten winning entries will be chosen at random once the closing date has past. Whilst entrants may enter multiple times, any one entrant is only eligible to win one of the nine prizes.
  • Following the closing date, the winners will be chosen at random and contacted before 30th September 2021. They will be contacted by email on how to claim their prize.
  • The winners will be sent their prizes within two working days of receipt of a confirmed delivery address.
  • By entering this draw, all entrants consent to the use of their personal data by the Promoter only for the purposes of the administration of this draw and any other purposes to which the entrant has consented.
  • The Promoter will keep entrants' personal details for a reasonable time so that it can send any prize that an entrant has won, to verify that these rules have been complied with, and for accounting purposes. 
  • The Promoter may disqualify any entrant whose entry does not comply with these terms and conditions (in Promoter’s sole opinion) or who, in Promoter’s sole determination, has acted in a manner that is fraudulent, dishonest or unjust to other entrants including, without limitation, tampering with the operation of the prize draw, manipulating or rigging votes, hacking, deceiving, cheating or by harassing or threatening other entrants or a representative of Promoter.
  • The Promoter is the British Phantom Aviation Group.  
  • These terms and conditions are governed by English law and the courts of England will have exclusive jurisdiction.
  • By entering into this draw, each entrant consents to these terms and conditions.

 

Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£10 or more

Certificate of Support

A full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£15 or more

Entry into Prize Draw & certificate.

Entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes plus a full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£20 or more

123 of 150 claimed

Exclusive patch, draw entry & certificate.

An exclusive supporter's patch plus an entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes a full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£50 or more

30 of 200 claimed

Your Name On A Fin, draw entry & certificate.

Your name (or any name you prefer) will be painted on the side of a genuine F-4 fin and this fin will be on display next to the aircraft at Cotswold Airport as well as at all events that the BPAG attend. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes a full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£50 or more

30 of 50 claimed

Signed XT597/XT905 watercolour print.

Created by artist Chris Draper (of the Guild Of Aviation Artists) this is a beautiful illustration of XT597 and XT905 airborne in an imaginary flight in their fully restored colours. Reproduced at A3 size on heavyweight authentic fine art paper, these are signed by Laurie Hilditch and Jon Millo, who were XT597’s aircrew on its final flight. Also includes entry into prize draw and a signed certificate acknowledging support for the project.

£400 or more

1 of 2 claimed

Spain apartment (low season) & draw & certificate

One week's accommodation at a private apartment in Calpe, Spain. Your choice of dates in mid/low season (September-June). Flights and transfers not included. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£25 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Bookshop voucher, draw entry & certificate.

£25 voucher to spend at The Aviation Bookshop plus an entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes a full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£30 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Keith Campbell print, draw entry & certificate.

Your choice of any 'Capture A Second' aviation print by UK photographer Keith Campbell plus an entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes a full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£35 or more

30 of 30 claimed

Piece of F-4J(UK) ZE352, draw entry & certificate.

A genuine piece of F-4J(UK) ZE352, previously F-4J 153783 (Vandy 1, the Black Bunny) which has been cut, smoothed, washed, dried & bagged. Comes with Certificate of Authenticity, a Part Information Sheet and a slip with practical information. Plus free entry into prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£35 or more

6 of 6 claimed

'Groundcrew Boys' signed copy.

A hardback copy of 'Groundcrew Boys' a collection of engineering stories from the Cold War frontline, signed by author Dave Gledhill. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£35 or more

1 of 1 claimed

XV408 fine art print, draw entry & certificate.

Fine art print of XV408 of 92 Sqn by artist Chris Draper, measuring 400mm x 223mm. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£35 or more

1 of 1 claimed

XV424 fine art print, draw entry & certificate.

Fine art print of XV424 at Hendon by artist Chris Draper, measuring 386mm x 280mm. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£40 or more

4 of 4 claimed

XV582 bundle, draw entry & certificate.

Special XV582 themed bundle- a poster/print of XV582 at Cosford in 2018 signed by John Brady and Michael Pugh, the aircrew from the 1988 speed run, a BPAG exclusive 'Black Mike' patch and a flown RAF issued first day postal cover. Plus free entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes a full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£40 or more

2 of 2 claimed

XV582 fine art print, draw entry & certificate.

Fine art print of XV582 'Black Mike' at SWAM by artist Chris Draper, measuring 497mm x 236mm. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£55 or more

12 of 12 claimed

BPAG visit, draw entry & certificate.

A special invite to be one of the first visitors to the BPAG at their new home at Cotswold Airport- see behind the scenes, meet the people involved and see the aircraft up close. Includes XT597 cockpit visit and aircrew & owner meet and greet. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£55 or more

4 of 4 claimed

20mm Dummy Loader round, draw entry & certificate

A genuine dummy loader 20mm cannon round which has been handpolished, mounted and displayed with the F-4 'Spook' emblem and Certificate of Authenticity. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£60 or more

5 of 5 claimed

Rare signed prints, draw entry & certificate.

Your choice of one of five rare signed F-4 Phantom Squadron Prints featuring the signatures of many notable names from various squadrons. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£60 or more

2 of 2 claimed

Rare signed prints, draw entry & certificate.

Your choice of one of two rare signed Squadron Prints featuring the signatures of notable names associated with the aircraft or unit. SU27 print is a ltd edition (46 of 91) & Tornado print features over 20 signatures. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£65 or more

34 of 34 claimed

20mm Round, draw entry & certificate.

A genuine reclaimed 20mm cannon round which has been handpolished, mounted and displayed with the F-4 'Spook' emblem and authenticity label. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£70 or more

6 of 6 claimed

Beetham Centre tour, draw entry & certificate.

A guided tour of the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at RAF Cosford Museum on 3rd December 2021. Conducted personally by Conservation Centre Manager Darren Priday. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£75 or more

1 of 1 claimed

737 simulator session, draw entry & certificate.

30 minute session in a full size Boeing 737 simulator, located in the Coventry area. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£250 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Flight in a Chipmunk, draw entry & certificate.

Back seat ride in a Chipmunk, the classic air force training aircraft. Flight will take place at Lasham Airfield, Hampshire. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

£750 or more

1 of 1 claimed

Spain apartment (high season) & draw & certificate

One week's accommodation at a private apartment in Calpe, Spain. Your choice of dates in high season (July/August). Flights and transfers not included. Plus entry into a prize draw with a chance to win one of many Phantom-related prizes. Also includes full colour certificate, personally signed by the BPAG Chairman, acknowledging support for the project.

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