- “The Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander – 50 Years On”
- Christchurch and District Model Flying Club Wednesday 5 April, 2017 8pm
- Talk presented by Bob Wealthy Britten-Norman Aircraft Preservation Society Chairman
The origins of the Britten-Norman Islander can be traced back to around 1949 when John Britten and Desmond Norman decided to collaborate to design and build a light home-build aircraft the BN-1. From these small beginnings ventures such as aerial crop spraying and hovercraft design led to the development of the concept of their BN-2 aircraft design as an aerial workhorse or “Land Rover of the Skies”.
The talk will recount the events that led to the design, construction, flight testing and large scale production of the BN-2 Islander and its variants as Britain’s most successful civil aircraft project and an enduring symbol of “Island Enterprise”. With over 1250 aircraft delivered since production started in 1967 and with around 500+ aircraft still in service around the world, the BN-2 Islander remains in small scale production 50 years on from the first flight of the prototype from Bembridge Airport, Isle of Wight on 13 June,1965.
Also the talk will draw attention to the fact that 50 years on, the oldest Islander in existence, construction number 3, AVCN, is at present being restored as a high quality static exhibit at a workshop facility on the Isle of Wight by the Britten-Norman Aircraft Preservation Society. Final assembly of the aircraft is on track for completion by the end of 2017.
To complement the talk a selection of archive and historic film clips will be shown that feature the Islander and the Britten-Norman Company.
Bob Wealthy is at present Chairman of the Britten-Norman Aircraft Preservation Society Trust and has had a lifelong interest in aviation, particularly the British Aviation Industry and the aviation history of the Isle of Wight and surrounding area. This interest started with the varied and exciting developments at Saunders-Roe and was strengthened later on as a member of the Air Training Corps with frequent visits to the Island’s airports and the almost unbelievable sights and sounds of the aircraft that appeared at the Farnborough Air Shows in the 1950s.
After a long career in engineering that started with an electrical engineering apprenticeship with the General Electric Company at Portsmouth and finishing up in 2006 with the Astrium space company, part of EADS, as a senior systems engineer engaged on a variety of space projects including the Skynet 5 military satellite communications system.
Following retirement more time became available to pursue his interest in aviation heritage and along with taking up duties as a volunteer at the Solent Sky Aviation Museum in Southampton, the opportunity arose to get involved with the restoration of Islander G-AVCN that has turned into a major project. Hopefully there will still be some time available to sort out and find a home for a fairly large lifetime’s collection of aviation related memorabilia.