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Man restores fighter jet on his front drive
2:07pm Monday 31st December 2012 in News
A once decrepit cockpit of a Second World War fighter jet has been restored to its former glory - and is display on a driveway.
Plane mad Neil McCarthy hit the headlines when he bought a vampire T11 Jet and parked it on the driveway of his house in Seaton Burn, North Tyneside.
Now, after months of hard work, dedication, and investigation, the father-of-two has welcomed back the shiny new cockpit to the parking space just outside his home.
The electronics engineer at Newcastle RVI was met with skepticism from family, friends and neighbours when he revealed his plans but the 30-year-old has proved everyone wrong.
"The day when it got delivered back on the he drive and I remembered what we had there the year before, it's just a complete transformation.
"I've got loads of compliments and because we live right next to the A1 you can see people looking down on it.
"The neighbours love it, the ones next door have have been showing a lot of interest in it, saying, 'wow, what a difference' and that they didn't think it would happen.
"I've become best buddies with a guy across the road because of it.
"It's strange but I think it has made everyone a lot closer."
The cockpit was up for grabs at an auction at RAF Millom Aviation and Military Museum in Cumbria and Neil, who is a display pilot in his spare time, jumped at the chance to own a piece of aviation history.
Built in the mid 1940s the cockpit was used as a gateway display at the museum in Scotland before moving to Millom museum 14 years ago.
The frame of the Vampire had endured years of corrosion but Neil was determined to refurbish the rare single engine jet and he did so through a lot of hard graft by him and his dad and thanks to a local firm who stepped in to help out.
Mr McCarthy, who already owns a Jet Provost Group, said: "There was a lot more involved than I first thought.
"Luckily a firm called North Eastern Composites offered to do all the donkey work.
"That was a great help so a big thank you is needed for them."
The realisation of what he had achieved came to Neil when he took the cockpit to Cleethorpes Airshow.
He said: "The response was unbelievable.
"There were people in and out all day long."
The prized-possession has won over his wife, Amanda, as well as their two children Ryan, two, and eighteen-month-old Nathan.
"She's got a bit of affection for it now. It has become the family's Vampire so she's grown attached to it now it doesn't look so bad," he said.
"Ryan loves it too, Nathan, who's one in February, doesn't quite get it yet."
Mr McCarthy is hoping to add to his growing collection of crafts and with plans in place to get a full size mock up of a Spitfire cockpit, which will be made into a flight simulator but as ever storage is an issue so he's appealing to anyone who may have space available to come forward.
"My big concern really is storage so if anyone has any kind of storage, a barn or even a museum that would be willing to let us store it in there when we're not taking it to shows we could arrange something like printing a business name on the side," he added.
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