Late in the Oshkosh week we found a group of dedicated volunteers passionately involved in the restoration of a very rare and historic aircraft; the 10-year project is just months from completion, and they've run out of funds. The British Aerospace Lightning was the first Mach 2 British interceptor and the last all-British-made aircraft of its kind (all subsequent fighter/interceptors have been born of coalition efforts involving multiple nations). As such, the Lightning has earned a precious place in the hearts of many British aviation enthusiasts and often evokes the same admiration, respect, and sense of awe earned by the Spitfire. Today, there are three airworthy Lightnings in the world. None are currently flying. The Anglo-American Lightning Organization says it's potentially 12 to 16 weeks from first flight -- here in the U.S. -- but now they'll need help. And if your pockets are deep, that may mean a special opportunity.
The Anglo American Lightning Organization is offering six $100,000 shares in the aircraft, which would provide privileges including "full rights for aircraft flight in the right-hand seat." The dedicated restoration team will retain a 40% share. The all-volunteer group made up of RAF, ex-RAF and ex Royal Saudi Air Force servicemen who all have experience with the type. Their project is based here in the U.S. at Stennis International Airport, Miss. They estimate they're about $600,000 short of the finish line and then they hope to go one essential step further. Returning the aircraft to airworthy condition is just part of the group's overall goal of returning it to the air, which will require cooperation with the FAA. The aircraft are not permitted to fly in Britain, though they may perform high-speed taxi runs with their twin-stacked engines thrown into afterburner. For more information about the program, or to contribute, visit the group's web site or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.