PES Performance Ltd are celebrating the return to the skies of the original Beagle Pup prototype aircraft, over 50 years after its last flight.
The engineering designers ended up playing a crucial role in the project to get the aircraft, designated G-AVDF, back to an airworthy condition.
Beagle Aircraft Limited had built the Pup prototype at Shoreham in 1967 and the aircraft subsequently flew over 200 hours of test and promotional flights between 1967-69. At the end of 1968, the plane was modified during tests for the Beagle Bulldog military trainer, but in May 1969, G-AVDF was partially dismantled and put into storage, when the Bulldog itself first flew.
In 1993 a Beagle Pup enthusiast, bought the aircraft with the intention of restoring it to flight, but for various reasons it took until 2015 for the restoration project to begin.
Mike Maddock, managing director of PES Performance explains how the company got involved with the project. “Five years ago, I met Alan Turner whose company was restoring the Beagle Pup prototype. We had a new GOM 3D scanning and digital data capture system at the time, and asked Alan if we could basically practice for free by scanning the aircraft in his hangar. Which is what we did.
“When we originally scanned the airframe there was no engine, and the wings were off, so we captured all the fuselage data and the original wing spars which were still attached to the aircraft.”
PES Performance kept in touch with the restoration team and later found that the project had hit a major hitch. The team had acquired on old production Beagle Pup aircraft and had planned to use the wing spars, which attach the wings to the fuselage, from that plane on the prototype.
But as Mr Maddock explains, things had not gone as planned. “The restoration team found out that the production spars did not fit the prototype, and the prototype parts did not even match the original manufacturing drawings. Luckily, when we originally scanned the aircraft, we had captured the details of the wing spars in the airframe, showing their position and how they aligned to the wings.
“We were then able to use the scan data and the original components to create new manufacturing drawings and we arranged to have new wing spars manufactured to the original design and specification. With the new wing spars installed, they were able to complete the restoration of the aircraft.”
Seeing the aircraft finished and repainted at its rededication event, Mr Maddock reflected on the part that the PES Performance team had played in the restoration. “The aircraft looks absolutely fantastic, complete and newly repainted in its original colour scheme. It has been a journey and we are just so proud to be part of that journey. I am just over the moon that PES was part of this project.
“Actually, our role in terms of helping with the wing spar issue, makes our whole team even more proud to have being part of what has being created. It is great to see the aircraft back in the air where it belongs 50 plus years after its initial flights.”