History-making jet up for sale

'Black Mike', which made the 590-mile journey from Land's End to John OGroats in less than 47 minutes, is up for sale.
'Black Mike', which made the 590-mile journey from Land's End to John OGroats in less than 47 minutes, is up for sale.

A group of aviation buffs is hoping to buy a piece of history from RAF Leuchars when a record-breaking jet goes under the hammer this month.

The Phantom Fg1 XV582, better known as Black Mike because of its distinctive all-black livery, holds the speed record between Land’s End and John O’Groats.

Until 2011, Black Mike was used as a ‘gate guardian’ at the base but has been in storage ever since.

Now, with the imminent transfer of the base to the Army, the RAF is selling off Black Mike, along with another Phantom and a Lightning F3 fighter, which have also been on display as gate guardians.

However, a group called Save XV582 Black Mike has lodged a bid to buy the aircraft, fearing it could otherwise end up being scrapped.

If successful, Black Mike would be relocated to Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire, where volunteers would try to restore it to as serviceable condition as possible.

The RAF would not comment on the price any of the jets would expect to reach at auction and the campaign group is keeping tight-lipped on how much it has bid.

All three aircraft had their engines removed when they finished their flying life.

Sam Thompson, general secretary of the Save XV582 Black Mike campaign and the British F4 Phantom Aviation Group, is a serving Armourer in the RAF so has an obvious interest in aircraft but the jet has a personal connection – both his parents also served in the RAF and worked alongside the aircraft.

Black Mike earned its iconic status back in 1988 when it became the first RAF Phantom to pass 5000 flying hours, a milestone achieved during its record-breaking flight from one end of the country to the other.

It completed the 590-mile flight from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 46m 44s, averaging 757mph.

Sam Thompson said that even if his group was not successful, he would be happy as long as the Phantoms went to a good home where they could be viewed rather than hidden away in a private collection.

He feels it is owed to the air and ground crews who operated them to preserve what is one of only a few complete ex-RAF Phantom IIs remaining of around 170 once in service.