2012 UK Aviation News

JUN 12 2012
Aviation News >> UK: Bill Ramsey on The People's Mosquito

Firstly, a big thank you to GAR for publishing this brief article. Because you are reading this, I assume you are aware of The People’s Mosquito (TPM) and its aim to produce a flying Mosquito NF36 for the UK airshow-going public to enjoy – either in the hands of the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight or operated by a trust, as per Avro Vulcan XH558, if that is not possible.

I became (accidentally) aware of the project earlier this year and decided to try and help if I could in some way – provided TPM persuaded me that they weren’t just a group of dreamers. They have persuaded me, completely, by the way, but more of that later.

As the weeks passed, I became aware of the mixed press the project has received on various forums, and noted a few queries asking why I am supporting it, what a pilot (without an aeroplane) brings to it, and what I think about the way it is being progressed. Reasonable questions in my mind, so here I am.

Next – why? That’s easy, I’ve always been a Mosquito fan. The aeroplane I have always most wanted to fly is the Mossie – an answer given to GAR's '20 Questions' long before TPM was an electronic blip on the interweb. If, like me, you’re sadly old enough to remember the Victor comic, you’ll recall the ‘Matt Braddock VC’ stories – he often achieved incredible results in a Mosquito. I was hooked! Maybe that’s why I ended up on Tornado, which seems to me like the Mossie’s natural descendant.

What do I bring to the project? In truth, so far, probably less than I thought I would, other than a questioning mind, as I half expected the team to be well-meaning amateurs with no real idea of the complexity of the project. Sorry if that sounds a bit ‘up myself’, as I’ve never actually built an aircraft in my life, but I could not have been more wrong.

Having bombarded Ross Sharp (TPM’s lead engineering planner, amongst many other things) with detailed questions regarding the plan to generate the aircraft, he has responded by saturating me with in-depth detail on every occasion. Because of my previous jobs, I have been able to help TPM to widen its circle of expert advice to include other warbird / vintage aircraft restorers and operators, Rolls Royce Merlin experts, and so on. People are being very generous with their invaluable advice.

Through doing stuff like this article, I hope to help build up the profile of the project, for when we get to the hard part - raising money and cutting wood. Most of all, I hope to re-assure any doubters that whilst the project is undoubtedly of the utmost difficulty, whilst I am involved, the TPM team will continue to operate to the highest standards in the development and, hopefully, execution of this ambitious effort.

Our aim is to ensure maximum transparency as we go along, although you will understand, some elements will fall in to the category of 'commercially sensitive', as TPM attempts to deliver best value for money, via competitive tendering and so on. I promise TPM will not fail because we have not done the hard work – and I will tell you otherwise.

So, what do I think of it all? That’s a bit harder! I guess you’d like to know where we are. Well, we already have a pretty good outline plan to build the aircraft. No surprises for this readership that the wooden bits will be done in New Zealand, Merlins will be built by a recognised expert (probably utilising 500 blocks – yes, that will present some engineering challenges as it is a non-Mosquito engine) then shipped to, and fitted, in NZ.

The remaining parts (systems and so on) will most likely need to be manufactured using reverse engineering and / or help from other Mossie rebuilding teams - and yes, we’re on that case too. The decision as to assembling and flying the aircraft in NZ for certification, and then importing it back to the UK for re-assembly and test flying to CAA specifications, or to return the constituent parts and do the remaining work in UK via a CAA-accredited organisation, remains to be made.

This is obviously a way down the track and we need to determine best value for money. We have already made contact with the CAA to discuss its, necessarily, stringent regulations and look forward to successfully co-operating with them on the project.

There is a lot more detailed work already done, but not enough room to discuss everything here. All in all though, TPM has made pretty quick progress from a standing start. The hard work conducted by John Lilley and Ross (with a great deal of other support) to further refine the project to ensure feasibility, develop a full plan and timeline, and therefore a more detailed order of cost is, honestly, nonstop. In parallel, the work to establish the best means to fund the project through an appropriate charitable, not for profit, status, is approaching maturity.

I know people get hung up on restoration or replication. For me personally, it’s irrelevant. Yes it will include bits from an original, which may or may not make it a restoration. Indisputably, it will be mostly new. I don’t think of this as a replica though, but as a 21st Century Mosquito, constructed as faithfully as possible to the same spec as the original.

As a pilot, the fact it’s a “new” aircraft really improves my confidence in its reliability. As an aside, I saw a comment by someone with regard to asymmetric issues and VMCA (minimum control speed in the air following an engine failure) for the Mossie. Good points, perhaps they’d like to get in touch – sounds like we could use his (or her) expertise! Be assured, this aircraft will only be flown by the best – which counts me out, I suppose!

So, to the (several) million dollar question: Can it happen? Only potential industry sponsors (not always a happy history on comparable projects, it has to be said) and the Great British Public can determine that.

We at TPM will do our utmost to make it so by delivering a fully researched project. Of course it will be high risk in terms of financial support, but I have no doubt that it is physically achievable. As a final point, I was delighted to see that Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Sir John Allison, KCB, CBE, FRAeS, RAF, has elected to join TPM as its Patron. Welcome aboard, Sir John.

I’m sure GAR will make the comments space available below this article and I’ll be very happy to try to answer any points you might want to raise. Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Bill Ramsey

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2012-08-19 - Geoff.
I am glad that the project is gaining momentum and with support from all enthusiasts and known aviation lights such as Bill Ramsey & ACM(Retd) Sir John Allison I am sure that it will keep on growing, I also think that one way of getting funds is for the two main aviation magazines to add an extra charge say 5Op to go towards this project then when complete the next deserving case. I cannot be the only one who wouldn't mind this charge to support this project in paticular but future projects to bring other extint warbirds/Rare warbirds back to life.


2012-06-13 - plane anorak
Wow, this and Jerry Yagen's Mossie - together would be sweet! If it does become airworthy, that is.

2012-06-12 - Neil McCarthy
Excellent article. Bill has really dispelled the myths out there! Best of luck with the project, and if I can help in any way, you know where I am.


2012-06-12 - Trevor Graham
I feel that the addition of an airworthy Mossie is an absolute must for the British historic aviation and display scene. It is also heartening to see the likes of Bill Ramsay openly supporting the project, however the major challenges will not be with the engineering, for I am sure given the expertise available here in the UK and the stunning capabilities of the Kiwis, the rebuild can be assured. The major hurdle will be financing the project and keeping it financed. It will require a serious team of marketing and fundraising professionals to ensure a funding stream that continues well past the first flight. This is the team that must be in place well before any engineering work commences. This project will attract thousands of well wishers. If you are lucky most of them will give you a fiver, just about enough to buy the glue required for the aircraft! Serious money must be in place first. As several colleagues have commented on the title of the project, I ask the rehtorical question is The People's Mosquito the right name? Not sure on that one from a marketing standpoint. All the best with the project though - it has my support.

2012-06-12 - andrew abbott
Thank you for this interview, after all the sniping about the project and recriminations form naysayers it is a breath of fresh air to see something positive about the Peoples Mosquito.

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