Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 11:21 AM
Fournier RF4D, formerly G-AYHY, now JA24RF
As I understand it, in the early 1970s the guys at Sportair wanted something a bit more aerobatic than an RF4D. Several members had left Sportair at Biggin Hill to join the Tiger Club at Redhill (not far away, and then probably the world’s premier sporting flying club). Their Stampes were then just about the most capable aerobatic aeroplanes ordinary British folk could afford.
The Tiger Club’s associated maintenance company was Rollasons, who started after the war by refurbishing ex-RAF surplus Tiger Moths, but by then had graduated to building new Turbulents and Condors and importing and renovating/rebuilding Stampes from France.
So in April 1972 Sportair and Michael Jones of Rollasons and the Tiger Club came to an agreement to swap newly-rebuilt Stampe SV-4B G-AZSA for the recently-imported RF4D G-AYHY. That gave Sportair their Stampe, which was soon repainted in camouflage colours to represent MX457 – the one flown to Britain early in the war by two defecting Belgian Air Force officers.
Meanwhile the Tiger Club members got what was probably the cheapest aerobatic aeroplane in Britain at £4-20 per hour in 1973 (Stampes were then £7-20ph). G-AYHY was possibly flown by more pilots than any other Fournier, although it did get landed wheel-up by several of them (mostly commercial pilots, Michael always said).
Nevertheless, in the hands of Tiger Club’s highly competent members G-AYHY competed in air races, precision flying and aerobatic competitions, and was flown in air displays all around the country and in northern Europe.
Unfortunately, in the 1980s somebody in the CAA made the arbitrary, sweeping and Draconian decision (there’s no NPRM in Britain, what the CAA says just goes) to set up a new category of aeroplane – the Self-Launching Motor Glider, and lumped our little RF4D into that class. This meant that all pilots had to fly 12 hours per year in an SLMG to keep their licences current, in addition to the 12 hours per year they needed to fly in an ordinary light single. Of course this meant YHY hardly got used any more, so very reluctantly the club sold it on 20/11/1990 to Pete Wells.
Pete continued to aerobat and display YHY for thirteen years; and it had amassed a total of 3,532 hours by 31/12/2003 when Pete decided to sell it in favour of the Twister, of which he became the British agent. Pete says he spent a long time trying to get a reasonable price for it, eventually selling it on 16/04/2004 to Japan where it is now apparently registered to Aero Vision as JA24RF
I will try to dig out from my Tiger Club archives some of YHY’s appearances and achievements, but don’t hold your breath, cos I’m a busy kinda guy.