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CAPE TOWN JETS: Electric Lightning

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English Electric Lightning - British Royal Air Force

Not since the Spitfire has one aircraft captured the hearts and imaginations of a generation of fighter pilots in the way that the Lightning has.

Unequivocally Britain's most loved jet fighter, the Lightning earned itself legitimately a place among the greats of celebrated aviation legends. In continuous front line service for almost thirty years with the Royal Air Force the passing of the Lightning represented the end of a unique era. It was the last of a rare breed: Single seat, entirely British, magnificently over powered and possessing delightful handling qualities. It was radically different in design with its vertical twin engine design, slab sided fuselage and highly swept wings making it stand apart from others. Built by craftsmen, it was a privilege to fly. You don't fly the Lightning like a conventional airplane - you strap it on your back and experience the ultimate thrill. Words can do little justice to the sensation of climbing vertically on a column of raw power, breaking the bond between earth and sky.

There never has been an aircraft as charismatic as the Lightning and it's unlikely in this modern age that there ever will be again." ("The Last of the Lightnings, A nostalgic farewell to the RAF's favorite supersonic Fighter", Ian Black, © 1996 Patrick Stephens Limited).

"The Cold War demanded that jet aircraft designers produce an aircraft capable of high performance at all altitudes and in all conditions, with sufficient room inside for the relevant avionics, and the ability to carry a heavy offensive load on the underwing and under-fuselage pylons. Though simple in concept, such design is highly complex in practice, and had been made still more complicated by the realization that missiles have some disadvantages in combat. Internally mounted guns with all their bulky ammunitions and fire-control radars, had to be designed into the airframe. Advanced jet aircraft are so expensive that the economy of Great Britain was severely strained by the development and production of the Lightning." ("Aviation, an Illustrated History", Christopher Chant, ©1983 Orbis Publishing, London).

Aircraft Description

English Electric Lightning T5

Twin engines, two seat (side by side) supersonic all weather interceptor powered by two afterburning Rolls Royce Avon 302 axial flow turbojets developing 16200 lbs. of static thrust each.

The Lightning continues to hold certain categories in climb to altitude records and is justifiably admired for its vertical climb performance.

Maximum all up weight: 35000 lbs.

Maximum velocity: Mach 2 at 15000 feet

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