Historic plane’s future in doubt if new home cannot be found

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AN AVIATION enthusiast is running out of options to keep a historic Jersey Airlines plane in the Island – with two local organisations confirming they are currently unable to offer the aircraft a home.

Both Jersey Heritage and Ports of Jersey have said they do not have an alternative storage site for the De Havilland Heron, which used to fly between the Channel Islands, the UK and continental Europe.

The aircraft is parked on a section of open tarmac at the Airport, but its owner – Matt Palmer – has warned that this needs to be the last winter it is left exposed and uncovered.

Airport director Robin MacRae has said all of the hangars are currently in use, although he added that there could be opportunities to include the Heron in future plans for the site.

The Duchess of Brittany was brought back to the Island by a group of local enthusiasts in 2018 and purchased by Mr Palmer last year for £1, after the company that previously owned it went into liquidation.

Jersey Airport 1960’s (34677818)

The Islander, who leads the government’s Cyber Emergency Response Team, has been trying to find it a more secure home so that it can stay in Jersey as a static exhibit.

Last week, he revealed that he was in discussions with UK aviation charities and museums, but was also writing to local organisations such as Jersey Heritage to see whether they could help.

Linda Romeril, Jersey Heritage’s director of archives and collections, said that the Duchess was not a collection piece the charity was able to take on.

‘We were approached when the aircraft came up for sale and our response remains the same – unfortunately we don’t have the space to store it and therefore would not be able to care for it in an appropriate way.

General characteristics

  • First flight 1950
  • Manufacturer de Havilland
  • Crew: Two
  • Capacity: 14 passengers
  • Length: 48 ft 6 in (14.78 m)
  • Wingspan: 71 ft 6 in (21.79 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 7 in (4.75 m)
  • Wing area: 499 sq ft (46.4 m2)

‘If a dedicated aircraft museum in the UK was able to accept the aircraft, this would be the best way to ensure its long-term preservation. As a general rule, we seek to keep historic items that help to tell Jersey’s story in the Island. However, it is not always possible and, in this case, a specialist museum could mean that the aircraft is saved and on display for the public to enjoy,’ she added.

Mr MacRae said that Ports had been providing free parking for the De Havilland Heron at the Airport since it returned to the Island.

‘We are keen to continue to liaise with its owner about potential opportunities to include the Heron in plans for the Airport going forward, but all our hangars are currently in use and space in them is highly sought after.

‘Older vintage aircraft like the Heron become more and more expensive to maintain as they age. The last owners of the plane found its renovation costly and time-consuming.

‘To continue that work would require fundraising and specialist engineering skills, which are not generally available in Jersey,’ he added.

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