Friday pictures: South African Lightnings

Earlier this month, Douglas Barrie wrote a post on Ares, my favorite blog these days, about the English Electric Lightning receiving an Engineering Heritage Award (PDF) by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. As an insular American plane buff, I gave far too little time thinking about the Lightning. Barrie makes the claim, which may be true and may not be true, that the Lightning was “epitome of the single-role aircraft.” Surely the Lockheed Blackbirds vie for such a title, but I see his point. English Electric built 339 of these planes, all with their unique over-under engine layout. A decent summary of Lightning information is on Wikipedia, but there are many, many web sites devoted to this plane, which clearly has a very loyal group of enthusiasts preserving its memories. (As an aside, as an example of insular buffs, the press release for the above award refers to the F-35 Lightning II as the namesake of the English Electric craft, when everyone knows the Lockheed plane is named after its forebear the P-38. Silly Brits.)

Way down in South Africa,  a recent airshow saw two flying Lightnings performing, and I am sure they put on an amazing show. I only know about it through the wonder of Flickr’s myriad photographers, and this week saw a wonderful series of pictures come appear. Marked with sponsorship decals for Vodacom Business, these planes look simply fabulous, and my hat is off to all the sponsors who have put them in the air. A certain amount of googling suggests that the return to flight was in 2004, but I cannot pin that down for sure. No matter – Friday pictures are about aeronautic eye candy, so with no further ado, and thanks to silver~halide, here are this week’s shots (shots below are thumbnails; please follow the link to the photographer to see larger images).

If you like this, I encourage you to check out this summary of all of the aviation photography I have featured her

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