Pilot buys his very own ‘Batplane’

A PILOT has bought the flight deck of a plane that features in the new Batman movie and hopes to use it to inspire a new generation to take to the skies.

Captain Paul Gibbs spent eight years as a pilot on the aircraft, flying passengers to the Western Isles.

The Jetstream 31 was built at Prestwick in 1987 and operated for most of its life flying passengers to and from Inverness and the Western Isles – registered as G-Uist.

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The aircraft had been owned by Highland Airways, but in 2010 the company suffered severe financial troubles and collapsed. All its planes were sold and G-Uist was purchased by a firm which supplies aviation props for the film industry, leading to it being used in the making of The Dark Knight Rises.

Now Capt Gibbs, 38, plans to use the iconic piece of kit as an educational tool to inspire children to pursue a future in the aviation industry.

Mr Gibbs, now employed with Flybe, said: “I didn’t want the plane ending up as scrap or being made into tuna tins. I bought it for sentimental reasons and to help encourage youngsters to enter into the aviation industry.

“It had nothing to do with Batman, but that should raise some interest in the kids.

“I tried to buy it a few years ago, without success, but tried following where it was going over the internet. I discovered it had been used in the new Batman film and approached the owner in a bid to buy it.”

Mr Gibbs, who lives near Inverness, spent about 18 months in discussions with the owner, and it was agreed he could purchase it for a four-figure sum after it appeared in The Dark Knight Rises.

He said: “G-Uist was used for internal cockpit shots during stunt sequences, and is the only partially surviving Jetstream of the six taken for film use.

“I plan to take it around schools in a bid to encourage children to become pilots.

“Children are no longer allowed to go on the flight decks of planes during flights, because of current security restrictions.

“And time on the ground is so short between flights that this limits it too.

“Many current pilots have been motivated by their childhood cockpit visits and it is hoped that this roving exhibit will continue that, as well as educate about aviation matters generally.

“There is now the added attraction that this cockpit is in the Batman movie, which will hopefully motivate youngsters to come and have a look. I will be popping it on a trailer and taking it around to schools in a bid to use it as a educational tool.”

Inverness-based Highland Airways collapsed with debts of £4.5m after a potential rescue deal fell through.

The The Dark Knight Rises will be released this summer and stars Christian Bale as Batman, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Tom Hardy as the villain Bane.