Sea Vixen return-to-flight effort ends due to lack of funds

YEOVILTON | Navy Wings have decided to halt efforts to return their beloved Sea Vixen to flight, following a gear-up landing in 2017.

Photo: James Connolly

The organisation had hoped that a “white knight” sponsor would step in to fund the estimated £2 million repairs, but despite a fundraising appeal and searching for individuals and organisations that may be willing to fund the restoration, none have been forthcoming.

In a statement on their website, Navy Wings said the coronavirus pandemic had forced them to re-evaluate their business plan to ensure that some of the aircraft can be back in the air next year. They said they had “carefully considered” the future of the Sea Vixen, but “the Board of Trustees has reluctantly made the decision to stop investing vital funds into preparing her for flight.

Navy Wings will now focus its efforts on restoring its Sea Fury FB.11, which will one day fly alongside its Sea Fury T.20.

“It is difficult having to make choices between historically important and beautiful aircraft,” Navy Wings said. “They all have their place in our story. We will not do anything to render the Sea Vixen unfit to fly in case someone comes forward in the future and she will continue to be a star attraction at Yeovilton Air Day.

“This classic Fleet Air Arm fighter and icon of the Cold War will always have a special place in the hearts of many and continue to impress and inspire for years to come.”

Sea Vixen FAW.2 XP924 (G-CVIX) was forced to make a gear-up landing at Yeovilton in May 2017, when the landing gear failed to lower. Although the pilot was praised for a textbook landing, structural damage to the aircraft was unavoidable.

XP924 was the world’s only flying Sea Vixen at the time of the accident, and none have flown since then.