The Royal Navy has reportedly withdrawn funding from Historic Flight, a unit which was “established in 1972 as a living memorial to all those who have served in the Royal Naval Air Service and Fleet Air Arm since the birth of naval aviation in 1909.”
The Yeovilton, Somerset-based collection includes Swordfish Mk.I W5856, Swordfish Mk.II LS326, Swordfish Mk.III NF389, Sea Fury FB.11 VR930 and Sea Hawk FGA.6 WV908. The machines attend air displays throughout the United Kingdom while providing “something of a ‘shop window’ on the Fleet Air Arm.”
The operation of Historic Flight will now be handled by Navy Wings, “the recognized Royal Naval Charity” which “raises money to keep important historic Naval Aircraft in the skies.” A plan is currently underway to transfer the Historic Flight aircraft to the civil register and into Navy Wings ownership.
Navy Wings will reportedly require £1.3m annually to maintain the collection, a sum that “will clearly require an uplift in fund-raising capacity.” The organization states, “it is really important that we achieve this, lest the remaining Swordfish, the Sea Fury FB11 and the Sea Hawk are sold privately and possibly disappear overseas.” As supporters are fundamental to this success, Fly Navy is seeking new members, who will reportedly receive “benefits of special supporters’ days with unique access to the aircraft, regular news and updates and exclusive access to the Navy Wings Marquee at Yeovilton Air Day,” as well as “serious discounts in restaurants and cinema tickets nationwide.”