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What is The People’s Mosquito?

The People’s Mosquito is a project set up with the sole purpose of returning a de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito aircraft to flight status, here in the UK. The project is a non-profit making, charitable organisation and will be funded by private donations and corporate sponsorship.

Why a Mosquito and why now?

The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was designed and first built in Britain, and there is currently a gap in flyable classic WW2 and post-WW2/Cold War types. Against all conventional wisdom of the day, the Mosquito captured the spirit of great British aviation design and demonstrates a legacy of British entrepreneurial enterprise. It went on to became the first truly great multi-role combat aircraft in the world. From its first delivery in 1941 to the end of hostilities in 1945 it remained one of the fastest allied aircraft and we want to see this great piece of aviation history back in British hearts and skies.

What remains of RL249?

The remains of RL249, as you would expect after being buried and left to the elements for sixty years, are in a somewhat decayed and decrepit state. We estimate we have around 10% of the original aircraft and very little of that is usable. Remaining parts will be used as templates or models for re-manufacture or re-engineering. Naturally the construction will require a good deal of new build, not only because many sections of the aircraft were lost in the crash but also to adhere to one of our main priorities which is flight safety. Once built, the aircraft will also have to undergo strenuous tests to comply with CAA regulations.

Is the goal a restoration, or a replica?

Our aim is a restoration and we have two experienced people working on the engineering plan who are engaging the right people in authority and in engineering terms to develop the restoration plan in detail.

Many restorations on the UK warbird scene today are not flying with 80-90% original content. Spitfires in the 1940’s were riveted with magnesium rivets and over time they crumble to dust. So you have to replace all of these for a start. A fantastic restoration of a Spitfire MK.I last year was started from the remains dug up from a beach in Calais in the 1980’s after sitting in salt water for over 40 years. How much left was airworthy? Many worldwide warbird restorations must have newly manufactured parts, structures, spars, engines & instruments adding up to 80-90% of the restoration.

In engineering terms, what are the main hurdles to be overcome in restoring a Mosquito?

Clearly there are not a lot of spare parts around. This will mean a good deal of searching in the right places and certainly there will be elements that will need to be re-manufactured, and of course this will inevitably bring its own issues. So this is not going to be a quick or easy job.

What challenges do you envisage in terms of getting official permission to fly the completed Mosquito?

The CAA rules and regulations are rightly very strict, and for good reason: SAFETY, and we have much work to do in that area. This is something that has already been started. At the end of the day we must ensure that RL249 is both restored to the highest possible quality and operated safely.

Do you have charitable status?

Yes. On 17th July 2012 The Peoples’ Mosquito became an Incorporated Charity. This is technically a company Limited by Guarantee – which means it has no shareholders and issues no dividends.

The Articles of Association state that the company is set up as a charity with the sole purpose, referred to in the Articles as its Object, being the acquisition and restoration to flight of a de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito aircraft for heritage, conservation and educational purposes. The ongoing maintenance and operation of the aircraft in an airworthy condition and the display of the aircraft to the public. Further, the Articles ensure that the income and property of the charity will be applied solely towards that end. The company will apply for registered charity status once it fulfils all the necessary requirements.

Is The People’s Mosquito linked with the BBMF at all?

No, there is no link with the BBMF. We had hoped to donate the aircraft, once restored, to the BBMF and entrust it to their care. However, for operational reasons, that plan has now been dropped.

What is the operational plan, now the proposed link with the BBMF has been dropped?

As we had originally planned, The People’s Mosquito, operating as a charity, will maintain and operate the aircraft.

Where will the aircraft be based?

The UK home of RL249 is dependant on a number of factors yet to be determined: funding, engineering support, availability of hanger space, any future relations with the BBMF or whether we operate the aircraft independently. The decision is many months away at present and all the above factors will play a part.

How long will the restoration take?

That depends a great deal on how much money is raised and how quickly. Also upon the availability of original parts versus what has to be re-engineered or re-manufactured. Currently we estimate a period of five to eight years, but this could change. The single most important thing that will affect the speed of the restoration is funding. Without it we will grind to a halt, with it in good supply, we will make good speed.

Since the loss of the last flying Mosquito in 1996, why do you think there’s not been another restored to flight sooner?

Quite simply the de Havilland ‘clamshell’ jigs were not available and no-one had yet discovered how to re-build them. Through the genius of Glyn Powell and his team in New Zealand there is now the engineering ability to reproduce those lost techniques.

Do you intend to make use of the services available in New Zealand?

We are in constant touch with the engineering team who brought back to life de Havilland’s lost airframe construction technology. Combined with modern resins and new CAD technologies we are very confident the results seen on KA114, a Canadian-built FB.26, recently returned to flight status in New Zealand, can be reproduced for RL249.

What is the likely cost of the restoration going to be?

After speaking to our planned suppliers for the airframe, detailed research on the engine/propeller options, plus all the ancillary equipment and specialist engineering, we estimate construction, shipping and associated air certification costs at £5.75m Sterling. As ever inflation, scarcity of parts and the fact that new tooling may be required for some components means that this figure may fluctuate.

Where is the money coming from and who is controlling it?

From public donations, corporate sponsorship, donations in kind from companies, grants, sales of branded goods, and other monies. Since we are operating as a charity, we have appointed a Treasurer, whose main responsibility is the project’s funds. We are overseen by the Charity Commission, and are subject to the same strict legal framework as all British charities.

Given the Vulcan’s perennial shortage of funds, how confident are you that The People’s Mosquito will be able to fund itself?

This is a high-risk project requiring the public to get behind it. What has motivated us is the success of the Vulcan project and its ‘brand’ ability to generate that public loyalty and consistently (although at times a close run thing) raise the funding. Our project is based on this model with one exception: cost. We are cheaper by a long way and in these harsh economic times where every penny counts, we can offer some of that ‘aviation magic’ for a much smaller financial requirement.

We truly believe the Mosquito story can capture the British public’s heart.

What will happen to any donated funds remaining with The People’s Mosquito Ltd should the project fail?

In the event that The People’s Mosquito project should fail, and donated monies be remaining with the company, we are bound by our rules of governance to distribute those monies to a charity, preferably with similar objectives.

What happened to the idea of a VirginMoneyGiving or JustGiving page?

One of the major requirements to be met before opening an account with either of the above websites, is that the charity wishing to open the account be registered with the Charity Commission. A charity is unable to register until it has achieved a certain income (£5000), in a given one year period. We will be launching an account with one of the above as soon as we become registered, and will be making an announcement when that page goes live.

There has been scepticism from some elements in the enthusiast community. Why do you think this is?

We have seen some scepticism from certain elements within the enthusiast community, but not the community as a whole. In every field of human endeavour, there will always be those who sit on the sidelines and find fault. Criticism is fine and can be a positive help if it is made in a constructive manner. The fact remains that we have had more positive support from the public overall than negative comments.


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