On my way to work there’s an amazing monument erected in the grounds of a workplace just next to a main roundabout that marks the entrance to a large business estate outside Edinburgh. The estate is called South Gyle, the workplace the abandoned premises of BAE, and the monument is a full size English Electric or BAC Lightning.
It is indeed an impressive sight, sitting as it is on a stand with its landing gear down and banking as though it were turning round the roundabout in the opposite direction. If, like me, you love old planes then this marks an extra treat for you. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it…
*A supercruising aircraft is able to cruise at supersonic speeds efficiently without the use of afterburners. The first aircraft to exceed Mach 1 in level flight without afterburners was the P.1 prototype of the English Electric Lightning, on August 4, 1954.
So this gorgeous looking invention was the first plane to break Mach 1 in level flight without afterburners, and to boot it is a strikingly unique looking aircraft. A momentous time in aviation history and in the history of British invention.
So now BAE have left their premises, the building been demolished and the Lightning just left there to rot.
There are panels falling off it, a wheel missing, and rust streaks appearing down that famous metal exterior, and all the while Edinburgh Council (or whoever) concern themselves over trivial debates to which none of us have any connection. Then here we are each day driving past this historic monument watching it slowly die.
Update: 22/05/2006: The Lightning has been moved! It disappeared the other day and all that was seen in its place was a large crane. That’s now gone too…I guess we can presume it’s not living in the same place with the fibreglass cows that were stolen from Edinburgh by drunks one evening, it’s a bit too heavy to carry! Anyone know where it’s gone?