An English Electric Canberra PR9 has been returned to the skies, seven years after the photographic reconnaissance type's retirement from use by the UK Royal Air Force.

Still in the markings of the service's then Canberra-equipped 39 Sqn, aircraft XH134 landed at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford on 19 July, having completed a two-year restoration programme by C2 Aviation at nearby Cotswold Airport in Kemble, Gloucestershire.

 Canberra XH134 RIAT pass - Craig Hoyle

Canberra XH134 RIAT lands - Craig Hoyle

Craig Hoyle/Flightglobal

One of three PR9s acquired by private owner Mike Davis in 2006, XH134 - which also uses the civilian registration G-OMHD - will be on static display during RIAT's public display days, on 20 and 21 July.

"The restoration of this exceptional and unique Canberra PR9 has been a privilege and a passion," says Davis, who plans to operate the Canberra alongside two Hawker Hunters as part of a new Midair Squadron display team, which is due to be formally launched later this year. The type's appearance at RIAT is intended to support efforts to attract a corporate sponsor to support the endeavour.

Of the other two Canberras acquired from the RAF, one was used as an engineering mock-up and spares parts source to enable XH134's return to flightworthy status, while the other was donated to Shorts, Davis says. With civilian aerospace maintenance, repair and overhaul interests in the USA and Ireland, he had initially intended to modify the surplus aircraft before offering to lease them back to the RAF. The service instead reformed 39 Sqn to operate the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Reaper remotely piloted air system.

Source: Flight International