Aircraft

Last Flying Sea Vixen Grounded As Charity's Repair Plan Halted

The aircraft, named Foxy Lady, will now be maintained as a non-flying exhibit.

The world’s last flying Sea Vixen fighter has been grounded after plans to restore the aircraft were abandoned. 

For three years, custodians have attempted to restore 'Foxy Lady' to flying order after her frame was damaged in a heavy landing.

Charity Navy Wings says it is still £2m short of the funds needed for the work and has now called off the restoration, grounding the Sea Vixen.

The veteran interceptor has not flown since she returned from an air show in Duxford, Cambridgeshire, to RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset in 2017, when she landed 'wheels up' after her undercarriage failed.

Commander Simon Hargreaves brought Foxy Lady down safely, but the speed and force of the landing meant the aircraft suffered major damage, with cracks in both tail booms, a damaged gearbox and warped bulkheads in the engine compartment.

Navy Wings has now taken the decision to halt the repair and maintain Foxy Lady as a non-flying exhibit.

They will now focus their efforts on restoring a single-seat Sea Fury FB11.

Navy Wings’ spokeswoman Louise Evans said it was "difficult" to "make choices between historically important and beautiful aircraft".

Foxy Lady shows her under side during a low pass over Yeovilton DATE UNKNOWN used on 091220 CREDIT Royal Navy.jpg
The aircraft served with Naval Air Squadron until 1971 (Picture: Royal Navy).

Ms Evans said: "We will not do anything to render the Sea Vixen unfit to fly in case someone comes forward in the future, and she will continue to be a star attraction at Yeovilton Air Day.

"She will always have a special place in the hearts of many and continue to impress and inspire for years to come."

Foxy Lady was delivered to the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm at the end of 1963 and served until 1971 with Naval Air Squadron.

In 2014, she was donated to the collection of vintage naval aircraft at Yeovilton.

Until the incident in 2017, she was the last of 145 Sea Vixens built for the Royal Navy to still be airborne and was a regular on the display scene.

Sea Vixens, with their distinctive twin-boom tail, were a mainstay of Royal Navy carrier operations in the 1960s through to the early 70s.

Navy Wings’ aim is to keep the memories and sacrifices of the Fleet Air Arm alive by maintaining vintage naval aircraft.

Cover image: Foxy Lady passes over the crowds at Yeovilton Air Day in 2016 (Picture: Royal Navy).