Breighton Airfield, Breighton, SELBY YO8 6DS
Tel: 01757 289065
Flying Club In Yorkshire

The Real Aeroplane Company

The Real Aeroplane Company (RAC) was founded in 1989 by Tony 'Taff' Smith as the operating company of his airstrip on the former World War two bomber base at Breighton, near Selby. It had been Taff's dream to establish a flying group where like minded individuals could operate their 'Real' aeroplanes away from the pressures of normal aero club flying, in addition, he needed an operating base for his own growing collection of veteran aeroplanes - Breighton was the ideal setting.

Initially, the site consisted of a workshop, two hangars and four aeroplanes. It now has thirteen hangars and over forty magnificent flying machines in residency ranging from classic military types such as the Miles Magister and PT-22 to the very non-warlike Aeronca 100, which was built in 1936 one of very few factory built examples currently airworthy.

Aircraft restoration is an important part of the RAC operation, the most ambitious project to date having been the World War Two era ME 109 fighter (actually a Spanish built post World War Two Hispano HA-1112-M1L Buchón C4K-154 with a Rolls Royce Merlin engine in place of the Daimler Benz powerplant used by the Germans) which flew for the first time in May 2006. However, one particular aircraft type synonymous with Breighton is the Bucker family of biplanes with numerous single-seat Jungmeisters and two-seat Jungmanns having being built and flown there over the years.

In 1995, RAC became the first civilian organization to certify and operate an Aero Vodochody L-39ZO Albatros on the Western European display circuit. The agile Czech advanced jet trainer/ground attack/fighter aircraft delighted airshow crowds everywhere, looking resplendent in its custom paint scheme. This aeroplane went on to star, along with Taff (and the late Mark Hanna, renowned warbird pilot and owner of the Duxford based Old Flying Machine Company), in the James Bond film 'Tomorrow never dies'. Significantly, this was the point at which successful businessman and aviation enthusiast Rob Fleming, began his long association with the RAC.

Following on from Eastern Bloc jets, Taff and Rob then tentatively dipped their toes into the warbird scene with the purchase of a North American T-6 (Harvard) followed by a very rare airworthy PR Mk XI Spitfire. Taff soon got to grips with flying the 'Spitty' and one of his first public displays remains one of his personal highlights - flying alongside a genuine former Luftwaffe Daimler Benz powered BF109G (the famous 'Black Six' - captured by Allied forces in Libya during World War Two and used for fighter evaluation trials in the UK) during a Battle of Britain commemoration at the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington.

The RAC then went on to operate a small 'squadron' of historically significant fighters which, in addition to the Spitfire, included a Mustang, Hurricane and a Spanish built ME 109/Buchon (completely rebuilt to airworthy status by the RAC) - the UK's northernmost operator of such hardware. These aircraft popularised the RAC a great deal and were seen at airshows across the length and breadth of the UK and Europe flown by Taff Smith and Brian Brown (the Mustang and Hurricane ventured as far afield as Roudnice Nad Labem in the Czech Republic). The Spitfire also spent some time at Taff's winter retreat in Florida where it was displayed at numerous US events including Oshkosh.

When Alex Henshaw's legendry Percival Mew Gull G-AEXF came on the market Rob Fleming wasted no time acquiring the aircraft, along with its stablemate Arrow Active II, and bringing them both to Breighton. At that time 'XF still held The Cape Records set by Henshaw in 1939 and, inspired by this, Taff Smith set about attempting to break the records, which had stood for 70 years, in a specially modified Glasair, making good time until beaten by a horrendous thunder storm. Around this time he also took the Mew Gull to the Reno Air Races in Nevada, USA, to take part in the 40th Anniversary event and flying in an exhibition race around the legendry pylons, much to the delight of the race-hardened fans in the desert.

In 2004 the Spitfire was sold to a collector in the south of England, taking-up residency at North Weald. Shortly after that both the Hurricane and ME 109 also moved on, this time to an American collector assembling his new warbird collection at Duxford. Tragically, Breighton's Airfield Manager and one of the RAC's most prolific characters, Brian Brown, lost his life in an airshow accident while flying the Hawker Hurricane on behalf of another warbird operator. Soon after that terrible tragedy the P-51 Mustang departed Breighton for a new life in Germany thus bringing to a close this chapter in the Real Aeroplane Company's incredible history.

In subsequent years the collection has continued to grow, recent additions to the fleet being a Piper J3 Cub, Beech H18, Max Holste Broussard and the only examples of the Arrow Active II, Dart Kitten and Avions Fairey Junior to name but a few.

The Aircraft Collection

Aeronca 100

AERONCA 100 - G-AEVS (1936/7) 'Jeeves' is one of only 24 'flying bath tubs' built by the Aeronautical Corporation of Great Britain, Ltd at Peterbrough. It is almost identical to the US built Aeronca C-3 apart from being fitted with interchangeable fabric covered ailerons instead of metal ones and a J.A.P. Model J99 engine instead of the Aeronca E-113C. 'Jeeves' is the longest serving RAC aircraft.
(Photo: Mike Illien)

Chilton DW1

Chilton DW 1 - G-AESZ (1937) The Chilton Monoplane was designed by two very bright De Havilland Technical School students, the Hon. Andrew William Henry Dalrymple and Alexander Reginald Ward, hence the initials D.W.1. It was registered in 1937 and test flown by Ranald Porteous from Witney Aerodrome in April of that year. 'SZ is powered by a Carden-Ford engine giving the aircrft its distinctive nose profile and delivering 30hp with a cruising speed of around 100mph. The aircraft was entered into a number of races with reasonable success but, on 24th May 1953, having recently been modified for the Kings Cup, it suffered a landing accident which, to all intents and purposes, should have ended its flying career. June 1984, enter Roy Nerou. Roy took on the task of restoring 'SZ to fly and, in September 2001 she embarked on her first post restoration flight from Rendcomb with Roger Bailey at the controls. There were no problems whatsoever and the Chilton flew beautifully, the first time a Carden engined Chilton had flown in almost fifty years. 'SZ arrived at Breighton in September 2020.
(Photo: Andy Wood)

Chilton DW1

Chilton DW 1A/1 - G-AFSV (1939) The D.W.1A was fitted with the French designed more powerful Train engine delivering 44hp and a top speed of around 130mph. The aircraft won its first race, The Folkstone Aero Trophey at Lympne on the 5th August 1939, with an average speed of 126mph. With war looming 'SV was placed into storage for the duration, emerging again to race in 1947's Southend Cup during which it set a new International FIA Class "A" 100km closed-circuit speed record of 123.72 mph for engines of two litres and under. In the years that followed she continued to race and received a number of modifications to increase competitiveness, including a Walter Mikron motor. In July 1978 Roy Nerou traded his Comper Swift for 'SV and so began the task of restoring her to her original specification, complete with Train engine. The aircraft arrived at Breighton in September 2020.
(Photo: Andy Wood)


BUCKER BU133 JUNGMEISTER - G-AXMT (1935) The Bü 133 was designed as an advance trainer for the Luftwaffe yet, as with the earlier 2-seat Jungmann biplane, in the guise of competition aerobatic aircraft - at which it excelled. This particular aircraft was built in 1938 by Dornier for use by the Swiss Air Force and it is in those same original markings that it can be seen today. The aircraft was once owned by pioneering warbird collector Spencer Flack and has also spent time in the US and Germany.
(Photo: Andy Wood)

Miles Magister

MILES M14A HAWK TRAINER 3 - G-AKAT (1940) This Miles M14A Hawk Trainer, or Magister as it was know in military use, is one of only a handful surviving in flying trim. There were 54 examples of the Hawk Trainer Mk 3 built, primarily for civillian training and export use, but 8 of those also found their way to the RAF. The RAF used the 'Maggie' for Elementary Flying Training with successful candidates moving on to fly aircraft such as the North American Harvard and, eventually, progressing to frontline aircraft such as the Hurricane or Spitfire.
(Photo: Andy Wood)

Fokker Dr1 Triplane

FOKKER DR1 'TRIPLANE' REPLICA - G-BVGZ (1994) This Fokker Dr. I 'Dreidecker' replica represents one of the most feared fighter aircraft of World War One. The type was used to devastating effect by the legendary Manfred von Richthofen (the Red Baron) circa 1918, in whose colours the aircraft currently displays. Despite its outward appearance the aircraft is powered by a modern Lycoming engine.
(Photo: Andy Wood)

Ryan PT22 Recruit

RYAN ST3KR - G-RLWG (1942) The ST3KR (or PT-22 Recruit as it was known in military service) was one of a number of military training types to emerge in the USA at the outbreak of the Second World War. Based on an earlier Claude Ryan STA design, the Menasco powered prototype designated YPT-16 was developed. During trials it was decided to re-engine the aircraft with the more rugged, powerful and suitable Kinner B-54 engine and to strip the airframe of all superflouous niceties such as wheel spats, rudder fairing and spinners. Devoid of the sleek lines and stylish good looks of the Menasco powered aircraft it was decided to redesignate the 'new' type ST3. 500 ex-military PT-22's were released onto the civillian market as ST3KR's and Rob Fleming's example is one of those. The aircraft was imported from the US in 2008 and currently retains its civillian paint scheme.
(Photo: Andy Wood)

LUTON LA4A MINOR - G-ATCN (1965) Although this particular example was built in 1965 the Luton LA4 Minor type can trace its lineage back to to the 1930's and the drawing board of C.H. Latimer-Needham. The prototype LA3 flew in March 1937 and as a result of successful flight trials was redesigned for home construction and re-designated LA4 Minor. Despite being a wonderful flyer it was always considered to be underpowered and in the late 1950's the design was once again altered to enable the installation of a larger engine, the result being the Luton LA4A Minor. Rob Fleming's LA4A is currently powered by a 4 cylinder Lycoming but plans are in motion to install a very rare 2 cylinder Bristol Cherub.
(Photo: Steve Blee)

COMPER C.L.A.7 SWIFT REPLICA - G-LCGL (1993) This stunning replica of Nicholas Comper's 1930's shoulder-wing sports monoplane was built in 1993 by the late John Greenland. Authentic right down to the incredibly rare Pobjoy Niagara powerplant, the aircraft is only 2lbs heavier than the original. It is documented that no other aircraft built in such small numbers (41 actually built) has broken so many records and won so many races. The most notable record being that of Charles Butler whose epic flight from the UK to Darwin, Australia in 1939 was completed 9 days, 2 hours and 29 minutes. G-LCGL was registered in tribute to Alex Henshaw’s Comper Swift, G-ACGL, in which he won the Siddely Trophy at the 1933 Kings Cup.
(Photo: Andy Wood)

Dart Kitten

DART KITTEN II - G-AEXT (1937) The Kitten was built by glider builders Alfred R.Weyl and Erich P.Zander under the name of Dart Aircraft Ltd at their premises in Dunstable, flying for the first time in April 1937. This aircraft is a single-seat, low-wing ultra-light monoplane, one of only 3 factory built examples (designated I, II and III respectively) and the only known survivor. Dart Kitten II had a more powerful motor (36 h.p. Aeronca-J.A.P. J-99 ) than its older sibling, along with minor revisions to the airframe and undercarriage. After the war Weyl and Zander continued to build gliders as the Hawkridge Aircraft Company until the business was dissolved in 1952.
(Photo: Steve Blee)

Bücker Jungmann

BUCKER BU131 JUNGMANN - G-TAFF (1934) The Jungmann was designed specifically to provide ab-initio training for military pilots during the inter-war years, albeit in the guise of an aerobatic aircraft, the first prototype being rolled-out in 1934. So successful was the design that by 1941 some 4000 airframes had been built worldwide (many built under licence in Spain and Czechoslovakia). After the war the aircraft became a popular competition aerobatic aircraft. This is the aircraft in which Tony 'Taff' Smith flew solo from Australia to the UK in the late 1980's.
(Photo: Steve Blee)

MAX HOLSTE BROUSSARD - G-CIGH The MH.1521 Broussard is a French built post-war liaison and observation aircraft, the type seeing service in the Algerian War of Independence as a spotter, supply and medivac aircraft - the latter as a consequence of its excellent short field performance. The prototype first flew in 1952 with production beginning in 1954 and totalling in excess of 350 aircraft. This particular example was built in 1960 and is powered by a Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior radial engine.
(Photo: Steve Blee)

Fairey Junior

AVIONS FAIREY JUNIOR - G-AMVP The Avions Fairey Junior (also known as the Tipsy Junior) is a single-seat light aircraft designed in post-war Belgium, the first example making it's flying debut in 1947. G-AMVP was the second airframe to have been completed and is the only one currently flying. In 1957 Fairey test pilot, Peter Twiss, landed 'VP on the deck of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal as a media stunt. The aircraft is powered by a Walter Mikron motor, cruises at around 98mph and has a top speed of 108mph.
(Photo: RAC)

Piper Cub

PIPER J3C-65 Cub - Originally intended as a trainer but achieving enormous popularity Worldwide as a general aviation aircraft, almost 20,000 J3 Cubs were eventually built in the United States, this one in 1946. Additionally the Cub was found to be well suited for a variety of military roles such as reconnaissance, liaison and ground control and produced in large numbers during World War II as the L-4 Grasshopper. The Real Aeroplane Company example is finished in the standard chrome yellow scheme and carries the appropriate nose art "Old Yeller".
(Photo: Jez Poller)

Hawker Cygnet

Hawker Cygnet - The Hawker Cygnet was a British ultra light biplane designed by Sydney Camm, at Hawker Aircraft, in response to a competition set by the Royal Aero Club in 1924. There were two original examples built and both were entered into numerous pre-war aero races achieving some success. The sole survivor of the two, G-EBMB, was retired from flying in 1972 and is now displayed in the museum at RAF Cosford. Designer Sydney Camm went on to design a number of iconic aircraft during his lifetime, perhaps the best known of these being the Hurricane and the Hunter, he also made a significant contribution to the design of the Hawker Siddeley P.1127, an aircraft that would eventually lead to the hugely successful Hawker Harrier. The Breighton based Cygnet is a faithful flying replica of those original aircraft, it arrived at Breighton from Old Warden in 2022.
(Photo: Steve Blee)