The last surviving Nimrod aircraft from RAF Kinloss – saved from the scrapheap after the fleet was withdrawn from service – has been formally named ‘Duke of Edinburgh’.
The XV244, which had flown out of the Scottish base since 1970 before the reconnaissance planes were disbanded in 2010, was purchased by a charitable organisation called Morayvia, set up to establish an aerospace centre in the north of Scotland.
A naming ceremony was hosted at Kinloss Barracks today and will now preserve a Royal connection to Moray’s aviation history.
Prince Philip, a supporter of a Scottish aviation museum, agreed to allow his name and heraldic standard to be displayed on the aircraft that Morayvia hopes will become the showpiece attraction in a future visitor centre.
The XV24 has a long and distinguished flying career, entering service with the RAF on November 6, 1970, as the eighth Nimrod to be delivered to the base. It was involved in numerous rescue operations, including the Piper Alpha disaster, and flew thousands of hours during its service
Morayvia chief executive officer, Stan Barber, a former Nimrod captain who flew on XV244 said: “The aircraft has a great history, which is one of the reasons why we wanted it, and when the Duke of Edinburgh gave his support, that was another big step, given his affection for the RAF and the (Kinloss) base.
“It is great to carry the Duke’s name and standard on the tail. It is a huge honour for Moray to get that.”
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead has congratulated Morayvia on the occasion of the naming of Nimrod XV244, which is kept at Kinloss Barracks.
He said: “Morayvia continues to go from strength to strength and is well supported by its volunteers.
“The naming ceremony is an important milestone and the connection with the Duke of Edinburgh is an extension of the long relationship the Duke has had with Kinloss over many years.
“Given the long association of this important aircraft with Moray it is good to see it preserved in such excellent condition and I wish Morayvia every success with their work to preserve and record Moray’s aviation heritage and develop aviation tourism in the region.”
Moray’s MP Angus Robertson, who is the SNP’s Defence Spokesperson, has also welcomed the naming ceremony milestone, saying: “Morayvia have very quickly become a well recognised organisation in Moray with regular displays of their Nimrod cockpit at local events, allowing people of all ages to get hands on with this aircraft that Kinloss became so well known for as its base.
“The official naming of the complete Nimrod that they have managed to secure and keep at Kinloss marks the incredible work they have done up to this point and keeps a strong focus on their vision of an aviation experience in Moray to attract locals and visitors alike.”
Morayvia formed in July 2011 to save the last Nimrod in Moray from being scrapped when the Kinloss base was shut by the Ministry of Defence in 2010.
Granted charitable status by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator in January 2012, the group
purchased XV244 from the Disposal Servces Agency in February.
Funds were raised from donations made by BAE Systems, Thales, Ultra, Rolls-Royce, and The Maritime Air Trust, as well as from individual Morayvia members.
The group also secured the front 40ft of Nimrod XV240, the former gate guardian, with a view to it forming a mobile exhibit to generate interest and income for its centre.
In 2013, the group were loaned 2 further cockpits, a Jet Provost T4 and Vampire T11, also on trailers and again attended a number of events to raise funds and awareness, venturing as far afield as RAF Waddington.
To progress the group’s plans further a Feasibility Study was conducted into the potential for aerospace tourism in Moray, with funding from European Rural Development funds under Project LEADER, as well as Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Conducted by Dunira Strategy of Edinburgh, the study ran from October 2012- February 2013. It concluded that a visitor centre on the scale envisaged by Morayvia would be a jewel in Moray’s tourism crown but the funding for such a centre would be unlikely short-term.
It encouraged development of Morayvia’s plan for a temporary centre based on a surplus Council site at Kinloss.
Morayvia is engaged with Moray Council’s Community Asset Transfer process and has been invited to enter Stage 2 and to submit a detailed business plan for the development of the former Abbeylands Primary School at Kinloss into a temporary visitor centre.
Moray Council has also approved a short-term lease of the site to Morayvia while these plans are developed.