When I retired I set out to photograph all surviving complete Lightnings left in the UK, the Lightning being my all-time favourite aircraft. Of the 45 left I have now photographed 41 and three are "out of reach" at Warton, Boscombe Down and RAF Leuchars. The fourth is on a farm near Darlington and may or may not be a complete aircraft anyway! But I digress because this one at Duxford was the first I photographed. XM135 was the very first full-production Mk1 and was first flown on 14th November 1959. She served with the CFS at Coltishall from May 1960 and then moved on to 74 Squadron, 226 OCU, the Leuchars TFF and was delivered to storage to 60 MU in June 1971 becoming the last F.1 to fly in the process. She was disposed of to the IWM in 1974 and has been on display at Duxford ever since. XM135 is famous for one incredible incident at Lyneham when on 22nd July 1966 Engineering Officer Wing Commander Taffy Holden was working on the aircraft trying to fix a persistent electrical fault which only showed up when the aircraft was accelerating. He was undertaking taxiing tests to see if he could replicate the problem. The canopy was off, ground locks were in on the undercarriage and the ejector seat safety pins were in. Anyway Taff inadvertently put the throttles in reheat and the rest is history! Before Taff realised the throttles hadn't jammed he was confronted with a fuel bowser and so up he went narrowly missing a taking-off Comet on the main runway. Now Taffy had some experience on Tiger Moths, Chipmunks and Harvards and this experience allowed him time to calmly explore the aircraft's handling and make some attempt at landing and on the third attempt he managed it! Taffy is still with us up in the north west and has expressed amazement that people are still mentioning this incident over 45 years later. He says he would like to sit in the cockpit one more time but without the engines running! There is apparently a plaque in the cockpit commemorating the event! Wouldn't it be nice if Duxford arranged for Taffy to have his wish.
Taffy lives in Nantwich, Cheshire, and was last in touch with the "Thunder & Lightnings" website in 2010.
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Photo taken in Duxford, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire CB22 4QP, UK
Misplaced? Suggest new location