AIRCRAFT enthusiasts are hoping to raise £30,000 in a bid to save an historic North-East jet aircraft which is the last of its kind.

Campaigners from the Save the Trident group are hoping to restore a Hawker Siddeley HS121 Trident.

The group is appealing to the public for donations of skills, labour, money, sponsorship, or any other help with the project.

The plane, which was built in the Sixties, is at Durham Tees Valley Airport.

It was operated by British European Airways – one of the predecessors of British Airways – which flew between North-East airports, London and Europe.

Only 117 jets were built, with some being sold abroad to China, Cyprus, Iraq, Kuwait and Pakistan.

Some were kept and flown by British Airways, on routes around Europe and the UK.

Trident flights ended in the UK in the early Eighties, with many of the planes scrapped.

The last remaining Hawker Siddeley HS121 Trident was sent to the Civil Aviation Authority’s Fire Training School at the then-Teesside Airport, to help train airport firefighters.

It is the last complete example of a Trident 1C anywhere in the world and still retains much of its original interior.

The group need to raise about £14,000 to dismantle the plane and transport it to the North East Aircraft Museum, in Sunderland, where they are hoping to reassemble and restore it.

A further £14,000 will be needed for the refurbishment.

The project is operating entirely on donations and volunteer labour and the group is appealing to any individuals or companies who are willing to offer money, services or sponsorship.

The six-man team of volunteers includes aircraft engineers Julian Cannon and Bruce Partington, as well as Neil Lomax, who recently restored a Trident 3B in a similar project in Manchester.

The group hopes to paint the aircraft in the colours of Northeast Airlines – grey, yellow and white – before it is put on display at the museum.

The group hopes to move the plane to Sunderland in October and is aiming to finish the project by 2012.

Matt Falcus, of the Save the Trident group, said: “It is the only one of its kind still in one piece.

“It is fairly crucial that we save it, in our opinion.

It is an important piece of British aviation history.”

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