Today we are finally able to announce the most exciting news. This morning our beloved Halifax Friday the 13th came to life for the first time. Throughout the winter, our engineering team, under strict secrecy, have been finalising the overhaul of the Bristol Hercules engines of our Halifax as we work towards CAA approval to return to airworthy condition of this iconic WW2 bomber.
Early this morning, we undertook the first of a series of live engine runs as the four mighty engines could be heard here at Elvington for the first time in decades.
Following flight testing from the majestic 10,000 foot Elvington runway, plans are already afoot for a re-enactment of the historic homecoming flight of the French Squadrons to Bordeaux this October.
Museum Director Barbara George says “To see a Halifax in the skies over Yorkshire once again is a truly heart warming prospect. We had tears in our eyes as the four engines came to life once again and we think that 1st of April is a suitable day to share this occasion with everyone.”
At the controls of the Halifax was Museum Chair of Trustees and Vulcan pilot Squadron Leader Martin Withers DFC. “It was very moving to hear the four Bristol Hercules engines come to life and I’m looking forward to conducting high speed taxi runs before the first flight from Elvington’s runway.”
Initial flight testing will be carried out by Martin before working up to a full certification with the possibility of an air display routine for late 2022. “It will certainly feel a lot different to a Vulcan and we won’t be able to be quite as athletic as the Vulcan displays used to be, however I think it’s going to be an amazing sight.”
One of the most fascinating elements of the project has been the involvement of electric hybrid drive. Elon Musk heard of our plight and of the sheer cost of aviation fuel and stepped forward with the offer of four hybrid electric motors to run in tandem with the original engines. The electric drives are attached to the rear of the big radials, with battery packs in the bomb bay, where the huge 13,000 lb payload once sat.
Museum heritage engineer Gary Hancock explains the new hybrid system, “Our Halifax will use the Bristol Hercules engines for take off and for airshow work, then swap to full electric drive when in transit to save fuel. We have another year of development and test flying of the hybrid drive before CAA certification of this unique electric development, which we anticipate will be on or around 1st April 2022.”
With the museum team hard at work preparing for the official re-opening on 22nd of May, we felt that the 1st of April was the perfect day to run our Halifax engines for the first time.