|"JET PROVOST HEAVEN"|
|HUNTING JET PROVOST T.4 XR673 (G-BXLO)|
|Hunting Jet Provost T.4 XR673 was built at Luton in 1963. It entered service with the Royal Air Force at RAF Syerston with No 2 Flying Training School (2FTS). After arriving at the Nottinghamshire airfield it was given the fleet code '30'.
It spent the next two years at 2FTS, helping to train the next generation of RAF pilots, until a transfer to RAF Cranwell in 1965. It then became a part of the Royal Air Force College (RAFC) fleet, and was re-coded '97'. XR673 was again tasked with rather mundane training sorties throughout the rest of the decade. During the summer months of 1970, the RAFC aerobatics team, 'The Cranwell Poachers', used XR673 for several display appearances in the UK.
In June 1971, XR673 was again on the move, to RAF Finningley in Yorkshire. It subsequently joined 6FTS for a two-year spell as aircraft 'V'. In 1973 it was on the move again, this time to RAF Shawbury, Shropshire. XR673 joined the Central Air Traffic Control School (CATCS), who were gradually replacing their existing de-Havilland Vampire T.11 fleet with surplus Jet Provosts.
In early 1976 XR673 was noted in service with the 3FTS' School of Refresher Flying, (SoRF), based at RAF Leeming. Its stay with 3FTS was only brief, as it had returned to the CATCS by the start of 1977. It remained in use at Shawbury for the remainder of its RAF flying career as aircraft 'L'. In July 1989, the CATCS retired all their aircraft and went back to computerised training.
During 1991, XR673 was moved by road to RAF Halton where it joined the RAF School of Technical Training (1SoTT). It was given the maintenance serial 9032M, and used as an instructional airframe for training future RAF technicians.
In 1993 it was announced that the school at Halton would close, and most of its large collection of aircraft disposed of. The whole site took over two years to clear, and XR673 was in fact the last Jet Provost offered for disposal via tender in September 1995.
It was bought by a private buyer, and was moved by road to North Weald, arriving in December 1995. Acquired by HCR Aviation in 1996, XR673 subsequently underwent a major rebuild at North Weald by McCarthy Aviation (later Jet Centre). The aircraft was later completely paint stripped, and was re-sprayed in its original 2FTS colours of silver with yellow bands. It undertook its first post restoration flight in late 1999, and has remained airworthy ever since.
In late 2004, XR673 was sold to Century Aviation, and following stays at Sandtoft and Humberside Airport, it currently lives with a Mk.5 Jet Provost at RAF Church Fenton, and is a regular visitor to RAF Waddington's annual airshow.
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